The Space You’re In


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It’s a fact.
Every space we walk into envelopes us.
Remember the Sub A classroom and the smell of chalk?
A hospital ward.
The drab office with files a little dusty.
Your grannies home.
Early morning in the garden.
The spaces we enter into give us a feeling.
Good, sad, uplifting, depressing, creative…

As humans we create the spaces around us.
Our homes.
Our offices.
Our classrooms.
Some have the financial clout to get others in to create their spaces.
Some not.
The spaces we create have a voice.
They tell someones story.

I remember visiting a Xhosa village and watching as a woman dipped her hand into a mixture of cow dung and water.
This she reverently smeared onto her floor.
It sounds distasteful.
In reality it was beautiful.
With her fingers she made patterns on the floor.
When it dried it was fresh and welcoming.
In actual fact the floor was an artistic welcome mat for all who entered.

Right now I am sitting in a ray of sunshine
Fresh, warm ciabatta toast with butter and marmalade has been placed before me.
A foam topped coffee is in my hand.
Swing music plays
The fresh morning enters through the open door.
This space is a mix of modern and nostalgic.
A chandelier hangs through barn-like wooden beams.
I come here to work.
I sit in this place and feel that my creativity is heightened because of the context of where I am.

Look at the space around you now.
What is it saying to you?
Open a window.
Put on some music.
Brew that coffee.
Clean up the dusty files.
Rearrange furniture
Small changes can have a big effect.

A woman used dung to make her home more welcoming!
Dung…
That is the ultimate in ingenuity.
The quality of being clever, original and inventive.
We are all of those things as humans.
Don’t shy away from the originality that is you.
We all have the ability to think creatively and independently .
So take a moment.
Notice the space around you
Set out to find a place that inspires you.
Set out to make your space a better place to be

This is me, I am Tania Ahlfeldt and my creative space of the moment is here at Ilsa Coles Brioche on Main Road Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa – my office away from home.
Go on, dig in and find your space.

And go and like my Facebook page called Love Your Art Teacher Today, lets encourage the working creatives in our midst…

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The Appointment


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How often does this life thing have you stumped?
How often do you stand in the place between disappointment and hope?

I have heard it said that in every disappointment there is an appointment.
I have heard it said that hope is a story waiting to happen.

I see hope in the story of a man.
His name is Lafras Moolman.

This man Lafras, is an avid listener to a niche market, very intimate radio station, Kingfisher FM in a small South African city called Port Elizabeth.

What amazes me is that the stations manager, Theunis Pienaar, took an interest in Lafras.
He took an interest in one person.
One listener.

Lafras is 27 years old.
He is a quadriplegic.
He’s been living in a room at his moms home for years.
Listening to his radio.
Being a Facebook encourager.

Lafras is cheerful.
Lafras always sees the positive.
He has a motto, “Life is an Adventure waiting to happen!”
And let me tell you, the adventure has started.

Theunis noticed that Lafras responded via SMS to every move the radio station made.
He became interested in him.
Then came friendship.

Standing in the outside looking in, I have observed as Kingfisher FM has helped him to begin achieving a dream.
A dream to get out there on his own and start living a more independent life.

Now this nobel young man is strapped into a wheelchair – he can move a few fingers…
And he can move a whole lot of hearts.

I have watched as people have rallied to assist.

In the past month Lafras, the gentle man, has left the parental home.
Assisted by Theunis and a forward thinking man called Dawie Steyn he was granted space in Quad House, Newton Park, Port Elizabeth.

Quad House is a place of assisted living.
This is where a quadriplegic can live and run his or her life.
They have wheelchair ramps, special assistants and a german Shepard who loves … well, everyone!

As I visit Lafras I see a man beginning to own his space.
I am also seeing someone, who for the first time has to make a home.

Again, hope stepped in.
Carmel Wolf from Sherwood Garden Center brought him plants and a trellis.
She placed a huge palm in his room and I watched as local gardener Paul Ntshingana jovally gave of his time and planted the outdoor plants Carmel brought outside his window.
My two boys assisted, in-between play of course.
As Lafras sits at his desk he now has a view.

Hilda Beukes, a Bloemfontein artist painted a glorious forest scene for him, and couriered it down!
Rory Scholtz from Daltar Print and Copy on Buffelsfontein Rd, didn’t blink an eye and without even meeting Lafras cut the motto in vinyl for his wall.
“Life is an adventure waiting to happen!” now sits easy on his newly painted wall above his computer.
Kelly Niemandt from New Room Interiors on Main Rd Walmer opened her heart to this project.
She is generously making bedding, cushions, table covers and more.
My handyman dad, Errol Gertenbach (he gets involved in all my projects) took over the shelving, touched up and made brackets for the trellis donated by Carmel.

Through all of this Lafras is grateful and humble, friendly and easy to work with.

As I have observed the haste of individuals to make Lafras’s life a better place to be and to turn his room into a home; I realise that we can change our cities just one person at a time.

We don’t need to be hero’s who change the world.
We don’t need to influence and change the lives of 20, 50 or 100 in one go.

All it takes is the creative thought that we can do something small.
All it takes is the creative shift that our input, even a tiny effort, can improve the life of one person.

As we realise and act, the act is a step of faith.
That act is often a creative catalyst enabling others to act.

I have made a friend.
Lafras has given to me as much as I to him.
As I help and love and assist, I too am edified.

So…
What can you offer to who right now?

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt and I am encouraging you to creatively act in one new way today.

Visit Theunis at:
www.kingfisherfm.co.za
Visit Carmel at:
http://www.sgcpe.com
Visit Rory at:
http://www.daltar.co.za/
Visit Kelly at:
www.newroom.co.za

Lafras’s adventure has started. His home is a work in progress.
I will keep you updated!

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Make Warm Connections


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I want to live a more soulful life.
This long weekend we entertained four days in a row and it got me thinking about the soul of authentic entertaining.
Remember that authentic is about being real and authentic entertaining finds it roots in hospitality.
Hospitality is about reaching out and drawing others in.
It is about connection to others and in our rushed lives we all too often realise that that which is missing, is deep connection.
The blessing of hospitality was a gift my darling gran carried with her always and she certainly had no lack of deep connections, over and over again people were drawn in by her warmth.

My heart keeps coming back to our fast-paced world, we naturally get into routines and rhythms with our families and schedules, and how busyness sets in.
Even though we naturally long to spend time with family and friends, we often lose sight of what’s important.

Busyness comes in when our demanding schedules hinder our getting together with those we love.
Disappointment takes over when we stop connecting, when we’re hurt or when others don’t reciprocate.
Neglect is when we forget that relationships are eternal, the most important thing in our lives.

My encouragement to you is to invite people into your home.
The best gifts in life are enjoying the relationships around us, the blessings of eating and drinking together, listening and engaging with one another.
The weather has changed and we can feel the autumn chilliness, even with a few summer days lingering, it’s time to get cozy.
It’s time for warmer connections that honestly may take you outside of your comfort zone, but in the end, will bring happiness and contentment.
Warm connections are a secret ingredient to ending loneliness.

Do you struggle, like most of us do, with busyness, disappointment or neglecting what could be warmer connections in your life?
It takes you act!
It takes you to reach out and invite someone into your space.
You can be creative about this.
A thick soup and crusty bread with garlic butter (mmmmm can you taste it?)
A little candlelight, some music, green leaves and a flower from your garden placed into a vase (it is that simple!)
Simplicity and genuineness are the keys to hospitality.

You don’t need money to do it, some of our worst dinners have been in wealthy homes where the host has set out to impress.

Just create an oasis of warmth and let some people in.

This is me Tania Ahlfeldt encouraging you to dig in, open your home and throw out the need to impress

A recipe that will get you connecting!

Tomato Soup with Roasted Peppers
Ingredients:
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 tin tomato purée
2 rashers of bacon
2 rounds of feta
2 red peppers
1 TBS Ina Parman chicken stock
1 piece of fresh rosemary (don’t hold back, fresh herbs do wonders for soups)
Black pepper
2 tsp sugar
Water

The recipe:
Fry the onion and bacon until cooked through.
Crush the garlic and add to the above, cook for two min.
Brush the red peppers with olive oil and roast them in your oven until soft, slice and throw them into the pot.
Add the whole peeled tomatoes, tomato purée, crumbled feta and sugar.
Mix the stock with a litre of water and add.
Let the soup bubble gently stirring occasionally for 1 hour.
Add black pepper and salt to taste.
Thicken if you need to.
If you like your soup finer, blitz it with a hand blender.

Serve with toasted bread and garlic butter…

Options:
Add a little more sugar if the tomatoes are too tart.
Add a small tub of cream! (at the end)
Crumble feta over the top of each bowl of soup just before serving.
Substitute the fresh rosemary for 1 tsp dried Italian herbs 😦
Buy yourself a rosemary bush and keep it outside your kitchen door!

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This is artist Sonia Strumpfer and she is opening up her home…


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When you walk through the home of Eastern Cape artist Sonia Strumpfer you find yourself surrounded by vibrant, yet calming work that sits easy on the walls in her home.
She herself has a calming vibrancy about her and a personality that draws one in.
I love the fact that at the end of the month Sonia is opening up her home
and studio to the PE public,
so I spent time chatting with her about what made her tick and
about how she entered into the art world.

As long as she remembers she’s always loved drawing and making art pieces.
Sonia was at school back in the seventies when art wasn’t a subject,
so studying art wasn’t an option that she considered.
Her studies led her to a BA in Communication and Journalism instead.
Interestingly enough Sonia also trained as a Intensive Care Nurse
and even now her skills and knowledge don’t go waste.
That’s why once a week you’ll find her at Kleinskool where she helps runs a
Primary Health Care Clinic for people living in very poor conditions.

It was only 10 years ago that Sonia took the brave step to become a fulltime artist.
To her art like a flower is there simply to be beautiful and to give one pleasure.
As I walk around her home and stare at her works, I find that to be true.
For me her art is abstract and beautiful with strong feminine flair.
Art is meant to be celebrated, it’s meant to be a part of the community,
and galleries can be intimidating spaces…
So here is a chance to visit Sonia in her home at Nobbs Rd, Summerstrand.
Her open house is on the 25th, 26th and afternoon of the 27th of November,
come and chat to her, sit at her kitchen table, sample her
freshly brewed coffee and melt in the mouth shortbread.

Come and be inspired!

This it Tania Ahlfeldt and I am taking time to celebrate the artists in the Eastern Cape.

You can phone Sonia on 082 861 2914 for more information.

Delicious Christ mas!


Photo: Taan

Hi it’s Tania and we’re talking creativity

Christmas excites me; it’s an excuse to celebrate!
It’s an excuse to hail a king, an excuse to feast,
to give and be generous.
There’s the fun of dragging a tree into the house
and decorating it, the fun of flashing lights,
the awesome experience of the innocent faces of
my children, dizzy with excitement.

Christmas tells us that the year is almost at an end
and the new one is about to make its way around the corner.
It is about the new beginning of Christ’s life and ours.
New beginnings are delicious things and in our household
we rejoice in Christmas.

Christmas is also a time to be creative.
When you set your Christmas table put floating candles in crystal vases,
or put a huge bowl of them in the center of the table instead of flowers.
If you have small kids you can take a sheet of newsprint and let them
paint it in reds and greens or a profusion of colour
and use it as a table cloth.
Tie long streams of ribbons from the top of your tree cascading to the floor.
Uncover the meanings of the names of each person
who will be sitting at your table and print or write it out on nice looking paper,
even thick tracing paper does the trick.
Stick it to the back of each chair or make a napkin ring out of it.
Little touches here and there are meaningful,

I love to hang the names of those coming to us for Christmas Eve onto the tree.
it’s a simple exercise of Googling “meaning of names”,
or going to www.babycenter.com and clicking on baby names
on the left hand side of the page.
For example I’ve just discovered that my Uncle Casper’s name means
One of Treasure and Casper was apparently the name of one of the three wise men!
Print, or write the names onto card, punch a hole,
put ribbon through it and tie it to the tree.
At one part of the evening everyone can  find their name
and read the origin and meanings,
you can add an extra note or scripture of your own as well.
This year I am adding the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
we’ll read them out and weave the special story
that Christmas is actually all about.

Revel your relationship with God this Christmas.
Give love and creativity.

This is Tania Ahlfeldt encouraging you to remember Christ and celebrate life.

Are You Feeling Generous?


Photo: Sharon D Pruitt

Hi it’s Tania  and we’re talking creativity.

Recently I heard the saying that generosity is learned when you have nothing.

Without scarcity we cannot truly know what having enough is all about.
Take the loaves and fishes for example.
It was only in the place of extreme need that the miracle could take place.
Those few loaves and fish were put into an environment of thankfulness
and thousands were fed – not only that,
there were generous portions left over.

Be creative with your ability to give today.
Generosity liberates!

We often have a tendency to hold tightly to what we have.
We hoard and store.
We want more.

Creativity is about making something out of nothing.
Remember, creativity loves nothingness,
because out of that we can nurture something new into being.
So today be creative with your generosity.
Be generous with your smile, your words, share your sandwich,
make coffee for the grump – you know your life.

Relax your grip on what is yours and give some if it away.
Give from a place of thankfulness.
Make friends with the word ‘grateful’ and at the end of the week have
a story of generosity to tell.

This is Tania Ahlfeldt and I’m feeling a little generous today.

Express or Impress?


Photo: D Sharon Pruitt

Making an impression can be an exhausting ordeal.
The need to impress is like a cancer in our society.
Whatever has happened to just being real?
My take on this is that we need to express rather than impress.
To express opens up communication, whereas trying to impress seems to close it down.

Let’s take entertaining for example.
So many women see entertaining as an obligation to impress the guests
and so a huge amount of pressure is loaded onto the hostess.
I’ve started seeing entertaining as a means of expressing myself and that opens the door
to being in real contact with the guest as opposed to being in a contest with them.
Trying to impress means it’s you against them.
Expressing yourself in your cooking, in the candles you light, the music you play is thrilling.
Laying a table to prepare a place for your guest as opposed to making them gasp at your extreme expertise
is liberating.
Consider what you love to eat and cook.
Consider an environment that makes you feel special,
then invite someone around (it might be a hot-dog picnic in the middle of the lounge to candlelight and Mozart).
Have some fun with it.

The worse meals I’ve had have been at homes where the heart of hospitality was not true.
The most uncomfortable evenings have been with people striving to impress and not being authentic.
It is better to eat a sandwich with a true friend, than a fillet steak in the home of someone who merely sees you as another victim to impress.

This is Tania Ahlfeldt and I’m into the art of expression!