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10 Cheap and Chic Budget Getaways

In my early twenties my friends and I would jet off to a farm or beach side va-cay for some much-needed R&R and bonding at least twice a year. As every long weekend approached we were practically giddy with glee and would spend months saving and planning to kick off our shoes, float blissfully on a rubber duckies and shake off the year’s stresses. I don’t know what we were escaping from since we were plump and rosy with youth and our only worries were our imminent thirties. As we got older and our lives moved into different directions with careers and families, my hubby and I tried our best to stick to the twice a year break, but when you have kids and a bond and car payments and school responsibilities, that dream moves from twice a year to twice a decade.

Recently, we spent a blissful weekend at Aloe Ridge in Swellendam to reconnect, unplug and unwind. It was pure heaven. Refreshing dips in the icy Breede River, cocktails by the pool and cuddles by a cosy, crackling fire at night. We spent so much time just chatting, about things outside of work and family life and somehow became the two 20-somethings, dizzy with love – schedule and responsibility free. So, naturally we vowed to make this break from our fast-paced lives a bi-monthly extravagance. I say ‘extravagance’ because anything that allows you so much free time feels like a decadent luxury – a sinfully indulgent dessert with gooey dark chocolate, shaved truffles and champagne sorbet. But surprisingly, the price was anything but extravagant.

So here are 10 cheap-as-chips luxury breaks that you can start planning now – all under R500 per person, and starting from R125 per person per night. Please confirm with the establishment since rates do change from season to season.

  1. Aloe Ridge, Swellendam

Midweek from R495 pp per night per couple
or R247.50 pp for 4 people

Aloe Ridge is a range of five self-catering lodges perched on a hill overlooking the majestic Breede River. It’s the perfect little getaway for families, friends and couples alike looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city while still offering all the luxurious comforts the city has to offer. Every bedroom offers an en-suite bathroom, one even sports an outdoor shower, and plush linens and towels are abundant. There are tons to do – from abseiling to river rafting, hiking, stargazing, birdwatching, mountain biking and fishing to name a few.

Why I love it: sundowners on the deck as you watch the sunset is simply everything!

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

2. Lazy Leopard, Rheenendal
This is the perfect group getaway
From R400 pp per night

Situated just off the scenic Rheenendal country road, Lazy Leopard offers three very appealing options: two romantic ‘bush huts’ called Forest Moon and Starry Forest and the larger Blue Hills Cottage

Forest Moon and Starry Forest are open-plan, with queen-size beds, mini kitchens and bathrooms encased in glass. Added to the mix in each is a fireplace and TV with DVD player (no SABC reception here), which means you won’t be deprived of any familiar home comforts. 

True to name, Forest Moon nestles at the edge of the forest, while Starry Forest is perched near the cliff edge with a view over the unspoilt indigenous valley.  It’s a short stroll through the forest to a lovely swimming pool and amazing view. 

Moving along a bit, Blue Hills Cottage sits alone above a contorted valley of thick forest. 

Why I love it: An open fireplace and many other wholesome touches contribute to its relaxed country persona. 

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

3. A Hilltop Country Retreat, Swellendam
From R427.50 per person (for two)

Situated in Swellendam, Hilltop Country Retreat offers 6 rooms and 2 homes with accommodation for 20 guests. Each room is spacious and luxurious, with a gorgeous patio to enjoy boardgames, a glass of red or white and hours of fun with family and friends.  

Egyptian cotton is the order of the day – perfect for lazy mornings to sleep in. Guests are allowed to pick their own fresh produce to cook themselves or have the friendly staff create gorgeous cuisine at the local restaurants. The fridge is stocked with breakfast ingredients such as bacon, tomatoes, roosterbrood, butter, muesli and yoghurt to devour on the divine patio, as well as tea and coffee.

Why I love it: I cannot think of a better spot to dive into a good book than the stretching green lawns around the property.

BOOK YOUR STAY
here.

4. Snyderskloof Karoo Cottage, Matjiesfontein
From R290 pp per night (R1450 split between 6 guests)

I am a sucker for nature and a stone cottage. So, straight from the budget-getaways website:

“Snyderskloof has got it all. No electricity, beautiful surroundings and very romantic. It’s going to knock your veldskoene right off. 

The huge 1700ha farm is set among gentle hills and big skies, 24km from Matjiesfontein; besides a perfect setting for contemplative navel-gazing it also holds plenty in the way of activity to keep the urban cold turkey at bay: hiking up the mountain to spot resident klipspringer and varied birdlife; trekking into the kloofs, mountain biking to Matjiesfontein for your breakfast), lolling around on the deck, dipping into the pool…
Chances are the lure of the cottage will have you abandoning any thought of physical activity that involves anything more than a braai tong and corkscrew. 

The interior is tastefully decorated in an eclectic mix of antique furnishings and vibrant fabrics offset against raw stone walls. 
There are two bedrooms, fitted with crisp white linen in the living room for your spillover. A communal bathroom (with shower that looks onto the surrounding mountains). The living room is a cozy hub with built-in fireplace, oil lamps and candles – there’s no electricity, which is how we hope they keep it. The open-plan kitchen sits alongside and is equipped with gas cooker and fridge freezer. 

Why I love it: Heading out to the deck, this overlooks the swimming pool, braai lapa and gobsmacking Karoo outlook. Just imagine those night skies…

BOOK YOUR STAY here. 

5. Suikerbossie Guest Farm (Campsite)
R165 – R400 pp

Suikerbossie may not be your 5 or even 3-star accommodation facility but more than makes up for it with sensational scenery and adventure-packed activities. Situated in a wild and craggy region, it’s envied among locals for its gushing rock pools and waterfalls. Complementing the pristine setting are 18 camp sites, all virtually in the water and two of them equipped. It’s perfect for the adventure seeker. Suikerbossie offers good odds on spotting duiker, klipspringer, baboon, and maybe even a leopard. There are several walking trails in the area, among them a donkey trail that was used in the old days to transport wheat down the mountain. A super new 4×4 route has now been opened and there are tubes and boats for hire.

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

6. Hornbill, Magaliesberg

The perfect family getaway
From R400 pp (for two, including breakfast)

Luxury accommodation amidst the scenic and peaceful surroundings of the Riverine Forest on the banks of the Magalies River, nestled between the mountains, Hornbill Lodge and Legends offers something to suit travellers of all leanings.

Six luxurious, fully air conditioned suites offer comfortable accommodation, perfectly complemented by the beautiful surroundings which are home to 180 different bird species, as well as a variety of smaller game and butterflies attracted by the Magalies River.

When they’re not kicking back in their suites, travellers can enjoy the beautiful surroundings during a tranquil walk, cool down in the kiddies pool or large swimming pool, or try their hand at fishing.

Why I love it: Magaliesberg offers horse riding, quad biking, helicopter rides and spa treatments in the area.

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

7. Libertas Guest Farm
Another ideal family getaway
R125 – R250 pp – cottages start from R1000 per cottage but can be split between 4-8 guests.

It’s hard to say what’s more appealing at Libertas: the superb accommodation, the breathtaking landscape, or the long list of action-packed activities on tap.

Let’s kick off with the accommodation, which now comes in five forms: The beautifully renovated and character-packed old homestead sleeping 10, The Dairy, a contemporary six-sleeper bearing little resemblance to it’s bovine origins, and not forgetting the three latest additions, Friesland, Ayrshire & Jersey cottages.

Kicking off with the main homestead, with its cement screeded floors, raw timber, earthy fabrics, original yellowwood beams and ceilings, oodles of space and country views, this is the perfect spot for that large family gathering.

You’ll find 100% percale bedding, nogal, grand bathrooms and a farm-style kitchen and stoep overlooking the Outeniqua mountains. It also sports an outside braai with gorgeous mountain vistas.

Why I love it:  It’s the ideal family getaway. The lawned expanse around all the houses is built for the kids to run wild. There are swings in the old gum trees nearby, and a volleyball court near the old homestead.

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

8. Platbos Suites
From R262.50pp for 4 guests
From R425 pp for 2 guests

Probably my favourite spot of the lot, Platbos offers a selection of cabins in a magical starry skied forest setting. It’s eco meets glamping and ideal for people looking to unplug and live off the grid for a while. Private, tented accommodation or log cabins, open air showers are there to help you become one with nature or return to your blissful self.

Why I love it: There’s a beautiful wood-fired hot tub for the exclusive use of our Honey Bee Suite guests – nuff said. Immerse yourself in the forest – as you gaze up through the trees to the African skies beyond. Pure bliss!

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

9. Ezingweni Safari Lodge, Limpopo
From R280 per night (for two people – so R140 each!)

I had to double check on a few sites whether that price is correct – it seemed too good to be true! Ezingweni Safari Lodge and Day Bush Spa is nestled in the Waterberg region of Limpopo. The area is an enchanting landscape of largely undiscovered mountain vistas, deep gorges, ancient rock art, clear streams, and rolling savannah, all rich in indigenous plant life, birdlife, and wildlife – including the Big Five.

Accommodation is offered in a choice of 12 self-catering units or the campsite. It is ideally suited for couples, families, or a group of friends seeking a tranquil bushveld getaway. Most of the units have private splash pools that can be heated at an extra cost. There are braai areas and access to well-equipped kitchenettes. Guest can enjoy a game drive in the morning and spa treatments in the afternoon, delicious meals at the restaurant and refreshing drinks at the bar.

Why I love it: Spa treatments – need I say more?

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

10. Petersfield Mountain Cottages
From R200 pp

I have been trying to book Petersfield Mountain Cottages and it remains one of those elusive treasures because of its popularity.

Both Dassieklip Luxury Farm Cottage and De Kom Mountain Cottage have become something of legends on the self-catering map – thanks in no small part to a mix of great setting, attention to detail, and a professional (yet relaxed) host. So successful has this formula proved to be that two further options, called Die Veepos and Stonehaven, have recently joined the duo. Set on a working citrus and rooibos estate just outside Citrusdal, all four cottages are gems. Here you’ll find shady stoeps, undercover braais and shimmering plunge pools.

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

BONUS STAY: THE SAVER’S DREAM
Copia Luxury Eco Cabins

From R825 pp

As with all my fashion posts, I always end with a  ‘dream’ item. The one that tugs at your heart is often a little more lavish in terms of spending, but will be worth it in the end – this one is perfect when you’ve been lucky enough to receive a bonus at work or have saved up for a few weeks. All cabins are perfectly suited for two adults with one King-size XL bed with premium bed linen. They supply all the luxuries you’ll need during your stay, including towels, cutlery, crockery & braai equipment, with ample wood for the fireplace and a wood-fired hot tub to soak in. Or, cuddle in front of the indoor fireplace during winter, when the weather acts up. With contemporary interior design, soft lighting & great attention to detail, they’ve transformed and up-cycled old shipping containers into unique self-catering, eco cabins. With limited reception on the farm, no WiFi in the cabin, your getaway to Copia Eco Cabins is the perfect excuse to connect with your partner over a glass of wine whilst the sun is setting in the distance.

BOOK YOUR STAY here.

Excuse me, while I book my next trip…


Plus Size Activewear & A Story About My Weight-loss Journey

Since September last year, I have been on a massive health and fitness journey. It’s not something I’ve spoken about a lot on the blog or on Instagram, but it’s been happening quietly in the background. I’ve been curvy since I hit puberty and most of my late teens were just a massive struggle to force my body into a shape it was never meant to be. One of the greatest things to happen in my life was my discovery of the body positivity movement. Shifting from a mindset of extreme self-loathing to one of acceptance took years. It sounds so simple… this idea that we should all just love ourselves, but when you really don’t like what you see in the mirror, it’s hard.

Of course, one part of being overweight and really hating everything about yourself is that you end up going through this intense cycle of dieting. You try every potion and pill on the market in the hope that at the end of the bottle you’ll find the girl you’ve been longing to become. She never appears and then you start the cycle all over again. I know that if you are reading this and you have been overweight, all of this will sound really familiar. After I stumbled across the body positivity movement, I started reading more. I wanted to believe that there was another option. That I could end this terrible cycle of self-hate and useless dieting. And wow, there was and I did. It was great.

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Budget Outfits Perfect for Breastfeeding

I first became a mother in 2012. It’s strange, it was just over six years ago but even then there were limited options in terms of maternity wear and dresses or tops suitable for breastfeeding. Your options were pretty much maternity jeans. I bought two pairs that dug into my belly and were so uncomfortable that I barely wore them. For this reason, I spent most of my days in high waisted pantyhose or leggings, no bra and loose vests which did wonders for my self esteem. While I spent my days cuddling this gorgeous bundle I lost a few things – sleep, sanity and my view of myself. Your body doesn’t quite feel like yours and your breasts became someone’s breakfast, lunch and dinner joint. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved every minute of it but I didn’t feel like a woman anymore, like a beautiful, sexy women – when I wasn’t in mesh panties from the Carriwell collection, I managed to find an hour to go on a dinner date which would get cut short the minute it was feeding time. So when doing research for this post I wanted to find styles that showed motherhood outside of the leggings and vests world. Styles that’ll make you look and feel like your old self – whatever that may be.

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Best Budget Boots for Winter

I have never been this excited for a blog post before!!

Trawling fashion sites and trend report for winter boot styles, it’s clear that 2019 is the year for total boot experimentation! Designs are perfectly placed to bring out your individual style and appeal to your inner fashion risk-taker! So let’s first talk about the trends that have the fashion world abuzz.

From the New York, London and Milan Fashion Week, the winter 2019 collection is lust-worthy styles that will have your heart racing. Ankle to thigh high to cowboy to laced up, there’s a boot for everybody! Boots can be pricey with styles starting at R599 but I found a few budget buys for well under R400, and included some R699 designs. If you’re not ready to dip your toe in the adventurous pool, I’ve saved the best for last. But know, ’tis the season to express yourself so you have an excuse to be extra!

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How To: One Friggin’ Fabulous Skirt Three Ways

It’s here! The universal skirt that looks amazing on everyone! And marries well with practically everything you own.

Often with fashion there are items you’re intimidated by – perhaps thinking they’re too flashy, that you’ll wear it for one occasion and be done with it, but this skirts will be BFFs with just about anything in your closet! Gone are the days when basics were boring or simply black, this one’s a winner that’ll you’ll get tons of wear from. There’s no reason why you can’t be adventurous and have a little fun with fashion.

I was so filled with glee when I found it that I literally danced and couldn’t wait to get home and try it on. It’s the most comfortable skirt I’ve ever worn and if you’re looking for work wear or an after-hours fierce ensemble, this skirt is EVERYTHING! It’s loose-fitting with an elastic waist, flowy and feels so soft on your skin. I saw it at Cotton On for R450 and got R100 off when signed up for the Perks rewards card. Part of budget buying is saving with every loyalty programme out there, right?

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A Simply Sensational Study under R1000!

I have been pinning pics of home office porn since we lived in a tiny flat and only had one set of little feet running around. I finally spotted the perfect one on Google – monochrome, minimal and magical, and I was super excited that the creator was about to share her budget, before and after pics and step-by-step ideas. But when I had a look at the shopping list, it was well over R20 000! I was crushed. I didn’t have that kind of dough lying around and I really enjoyed both of my kidneys. So it was put on hold for a while.

This year, I really needed a creative space – something inspiring, inviting, functional and pretty where I could write and be innovative and productive. A place that was mine alone and made me smile.

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Best Budget Bras – Sports Bras and Sizes up to GG included

Let me start this post by saying, Womxn, we all deserve good f*cking bras. If you’re like me, your bra collection is probably falling apart with one or two trustworthy, fail-safe bras that you reach for again and again. I reviewed my collection and it went like this: missing underwire, missing underwire, missing underwire, too small, too scratchy, broken, broken, OK, comfortable enough, missing underwire, rusty. I also examined the damage – bruises from old wires and cuts from straps because they simply didn’t fit properly. Dressing up and feeling great starts with a decent bra – a dress you look gorgeous in is made all the better with a bra that makes you feel comfortable and more beautiful, without the dreaded side boob, quad boob, pinching underwires and escaping boobies. A good bra, a comfortable bra, a sexy bra is all part of self-care.

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Get to Know Me: A Week in my Wardrobe

Have you ever felt as if  you’re having some sort of identity crisis when looking at your wardrobe? No? Just me? My ensembles tended to differ so drastically from day to day, and sometimes still does. There were so many factors that played a part in what I wore. Like:

  • Whether I was meeting clients that day
  • My board of ‘fashion envy’ on Pinterest that turned out to be things I either never wore or swore I’d never wear again. 
  • The weather
  • My mood and whether I was PMSing hard
  • And sillier reasons like whether I just got my hurr did and sillier still, did I feel like braving the three flights of stairs at work in heels that day.

My sense of style was erratic and I ended up with was a closet full of unworn clothes and shoes, an empty wallet except for a few regrets, and a glass full of wine and tears. So when we began this blog, I tried a few things and found a method that really worked for me. Now I have a wardrobe that caters to my every need, says something about me, and I’ve acquired and an eye for hardworking budget items that I can add should I need to switch things up a bit. 

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Nikki’s Monthly Must-Have’s: March Favourites

Did anyone else feel like March was a GREAT shopping month? Aside from the fact that there were plenty of wonderful sales, I also discovered a few rad products I had never tried before.

Kim and I chatted about doing round-up posts at the end of every month and instead of talking about the things we want (flip, that list is long), we wanted to share the things we have actually spent our money on and tell you why we love them. We’re keeping things positive and only sharing our favourite purchases, to be honest, it’s not often that we don’t like something. If products have been sponsored, we will highlight that, if we say nothing it means we’ve spent our own rondts on it.

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10 Ways to Cosy Up your Home on A Budget

I am a recent winter convert. Yes, the weather is dreary but this chilly season provides all those little things we love about life – a good book, time with the kids, crackling fires and taking a break from our fast-paced lives. In winter, there’s absolutely no shame in spending days under a cosy duvet and not a shred of guilt need be felt for avoiding the chilly reality on the other side of our curtains. So when it comes to creating a cosy space to enjoy those cold winter months, we have you covered.

I’ve always loved the minimalist lifestyle and recently when I Kon Mari’ed the sh*t out of our lives, I was worried that I’d need to add a lot of clutter. But, really, all you need are a few throws or snuggle-soft blankets, some mood lighting and few bits and bobs to create a warm ambiance.

So here are 10 budget-friendly ways to add warmth and love your home this winter.

  1. Cosy starts in the bedroom

Creating a snug winter home can be as easy as switching your sheets. There’s more to it than simply adding charm and colour — it also means adding comfort to your bedroom. And heavier textiles are the way to go. Think brushed cotton, velvety flannel sheets, or thicker and heftier cotton sheets with a higher thread count.

I know, I know, ‘flannels’ immediately take you to grandpa’s plaid pyjamas and matching flannel slippers but nowadays there are tons of modern prints providing the same welcoming feeling that gives you an excuse to hit the snooze button. Making a switch to down duvet inners for instant warmth is another way to go. @home has their pillow and duvet inner sets on a 30% off sale if you can’t wait, and usually 50% off — ’round about July so subscribe to their newsletters because they do sell out rather quickly. Layering thicker curtains in plush fabrics also add warmth and interest to your space, and keep drafts at bay.

Here are my bedding favourites.

Brushed Cotton sheets from Mr Price – from 89.99
Palin and grid printed duvet set from Superbalist – from R249
Polycotton curtain from Pep – R159.99
Microfibre winter sheet set in several colours from Woolworths – R99.99 – buy any 2 and save 25% online

2. Create a welcoming reading nook

We recently got Netflix and it’s so easy to slip into a binge-watching hole. Only when load-shedding hit did we start spending our down time in more productive ways. I fashioned a comfortable space where I can curl up with a favourite book, a hot cup of tea or coffee and a snack – the perfect remedy to keep the chill at bay. Whether a couch, bed or cosy nook under the stairs, be sure to stack it with plenty of books and pillows, a blanket, a good light, and a side table or storage basket to hold everything together in one place – all this will make up a seriously snug setting that is impossible to resist on a nippy winter’s night. 

Here are my favourite throws and scatters

Yellow print scatters from Superbalist – both R129 each
Mustard scatter from Pep – R12.99
Striped yellow throw form Woolworths – R299
Flannel throws from Woolworths – in yellow and grey – R120 each, buy any 2 for R200

3. Bulk up your towels

You’ve gotten your bath water to the perfect temperature, the candles are lit but stepping out when temperatures are below freezing and wrapping yourself in a threadbare towel can really  ruin the entire relaxing experience. So if you’re looking for a pocket-friendly way to make your home life cosier, upgrading your towels is a good place to start. There is no better feeling in this world that slipping into luxurious, hefty, cotton-soft towels fresh from the dryer.

Printed towels from Superbalist – on sale – R149
Textured Bath Towel from Woolworths , various shades – R180 – buy any 2 and save 25% online
Jewel tone guest towels from Ackermans – R22.95

4. Keep the fire burning

During winter, electricity bills can really spike up so to avoid this we built a fireplace about three years ago and it was the best investment to make our home snug and comfortable. Even though it’s in the furthest corner of our home, it somehow warms up every nook and cranny. And the best part it’s high enough for wandering, inquisitive little hands not to burn themselves. If you don’t have a fireplace, grouping candles together will do the trick. You just need to be extra safe if you have little ones running around.

5. Keep slippers handy

Having a cosy home means, first and foremost, getting yourself cosy, too. It’s rather rare to have carpeting these days so if you have laminated flooring, tiles or cement, place slippers or sock in two of your favourite spots – perhaps a pair next to your bed or in your reading nook so you can help outsmart drafts and stay toasty. A rug or runner is also ideal for avoiding icy floors.

Bunny and mule slippers from Woolworths – R160 and R170 respectively
Faux fur rug from Mr Price Home – R599
Jute and striped rugs from Superbalist – R699 and R599 respectively

6. Add colour

If you’re on tight budget as we are, redecorating with every season is a luxury. But if you do want to breathe new life into a space, keep a neutral base such as greys, whites and creams – in that way you can add pops of colours such as yellows and reds to get that proverbial fire burning. Scatters, throws, paint and even temporary wallpaper is great way to transform any space. If you’re not a fan of bright colours, like me, add interest with a mix of textures. Think wool, faux fur, cable knits, velvets and different weaves to add depth and warmth.

7. Bring in light

Create layers of light with table and floor lamps – perfect for intimate dinner parties, reading and movie nights. Not keen on spending too much? Grab a few packs of tea lights and create the same ambience. They’re elegant mood setters, and available for a few rands at any supermarket. Mirrors can also bring tons of light to a dark area.

I simply love these lamps and mirrors.

Table lamp, rose gold lamp and floral cut out lamp from Mr Price Home – R169.99; R199.99 and R259.99
Cactus and round mirror, also from Mr Price Home – R129.99 and R299.99 respectively
Square mirror from Superbalist for R349

8. Basket of blankets

Fill a basket or trunk with a supply of soft wool, faux fur or fleecy throws and place next to your favourite sofa. Make sure there’s one for everyone to avoid blanket fights.

Saw these at Checkers – from R199.99

9. Invest in some green friends

Opt for exotic plants to give your home a tropical feel even when the weather is blistering out. Even fragrant plants such as lavender will set the tone for a season of relaxation.

10. Make a spot for projects and games

If you’re staying in, chances are that you’ll get bored at some point. So set up a space for tasks you’ve been putting off for a while – rearranging a drawer or planning your budget. You can also set up games that you and the family can enjoy together.  A table with storage or a little kist is all you need to keep things neat and tidy.

And that a (cosy) wrap on getting your home ready for winter – the Two Babes on a Budget Way.