It is beautiful here in Suomi 

Hi from Finland and the beautiful Fiskars craft Village, where Mielie's work is part of an exhibition at the "It is Beautiful Here" exhibition. Pictured here are also the works of Dave Cole from the US and Isabel Berglund from Denmark.
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packin' my bags 
I'm off to Finland tomorrow to visit Outi, our fabulous Finnish distributor, and to attend an exhibition at Fiskars Village, outside Helsinki. Whenever possible, I'll send news, ok? In the mean time, I leave Noseko, pictured here with her son and with her grandson Buhle on her back, in charge at Mielie!
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Take the long way home 

We recharged our batteries in Hermanus this weekend - you know, we've only had 5 public holidays in the past month - I was exhausted! We decided to return home via the longer coastal road because there were roadworks on the highway. I had just mentioned earlier on Sunday that I had never seen live dolphins before, when there they were - about fifteen of them cavorting in the waters of Kogel Bay - they even did that leap-staight-up-into-the-sky-with-your-snout-pointing-heavenwards-trick!

Oh, and excuse me, but did anyone notice the Herringbone Mielie Mountain at Pringle Bay?
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Penguins & whales 

When I was little there were no whales or penguins to be seen in or around the waters of Cape Town. The whales had been chased to the deep Southern waters by whaling boats that circled our nutrient rich waters. Penguin eggs were a very popular local delicacy, and as a result, they had all but been eradicated.

By contrast, my children grew up with these magestic and sometimes comical creatures. Early spring heralds the arrival of the whales, who seek our shallow waters to give birth. And of course many visitors to Cape Town will cite a visit to the penguins at Boulders beach as one of the highlights of their holiday.

All thanks to environmental legislation. To celebrate the awesome power of the legal pen, Nosiphiwo created Phumza, nature's police penguin, a special little coin purse that says YAY! to the fact that when we put our minds together we can make a significant and positive difference to the world as we know it.
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Spreading the love 

One day, a couple of years back, we were visiting our weavers in Khayelitsha when an elderly gentleman asked us if we would take a photo of him. We followed him to his home where we were delighted to find the tiniest creche ever! Lovingly overseen by tata and his wife were some twenty little ones, varying in age between a couple of months and four years. When their two daughters are on school holidays, they also help at the creche. The yard in front of their home is tiny and there are very few toys, but it is clear that the children are well fed and very well cared for.

We visit the Nosiyanda creche often and last year we were happy to be able to give them some beautiful children's clothing collected by Laurie, a Mielie friend in Nantucket.

Mielie recently established a not-for-profit foundation so that we can better help those in need. To begin with, these are the projects on our agenda:

- Properly establish the Mielie food garden
- Support established pre-schools like Dora Tamana
- Make life just a little better for children in creches like Nosiyanda.
- Make the homes of our weavers and the greater informal settlement community more wind and waterproof, especially with winter around the corner. A bit of insulation will also make their corrugated iron homes much more bearable both in winter and in summer.

So, if you have any ideas or want to join us on this fantastic journey, please mail me. We'd love to have you on board!
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Street encounter 

She ambled up to the veggie sellers in Khayelitsha with a chicken slung casually over her shoulder. I jumped back when it squawked at me.

"Are you afraid of the chicken?" she asked.

"Well, I'm not really used to live chickens. I usually buy mine in a packet at the supermarket", I tried to justify.

"I like my chicken fresh", she said with a smile.
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Botanical inspiration #1: protea 

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Strange Fruit 

The Mielie soccer tree is simply hanging with beautiful multicolour fruits!

It's been a long journey to perfect them, but we're there. We ship them flat with a gym ball inside, and when they arrive at their destination, they just need to be pumped up. Clever huh?

Speaking of fruits, let's not forget the vegetables! Thanks to everyone who supported our market this morning - especially close friends who made the trek from the comfort of the city bowl. Next Friday is a public holiday, so we 'll be taking a break.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
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Girl power! 

Fezeka brought her beautiful baby daughter with her to Mielie Thursday. The stork has been very busy on planet Mielie - Phumla also had a baby girl last week, and both Gcobisa and Nosithembele are due to have babies soon!
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Wear your art on your sleeve 

While they were packing up their old house, I received many treasures from parents, including this beautiful book, Folk Costumes of the World by R. Harrold and P Legg. It reminded me of one of the talks on the TED website by Wade Davis in which he makes a case for the preservation for the disappearing cultures and languages of the world - listen to it here. TED is one of my most exciting recent discoveries.

I am fascinated by notions like culture, belonging and skills that are handed down from one generation to the next. It seems to me that every stitch on every dress has a story, that every colour has meaning.

By the way, Zanele and I will be visiting Finland early next month to take part in an exhibition at Fiskars Village. I can't wait to be greeted by Outi, our Finish distributor, in her beautiful folk dress!
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