Making a wall of it

    When decorating a space, we have all heard the saying "choose a wall and make a feature of it", however the standards on what should be done to this feature wall keep changing as the years go by.

It used to be an accepted fact that the feature wall should only be painted a bright colour (like red) to draw your attention to it and by doing so, the inspired artist makes a bold statement.

In the past 10 years, natural stone has made a come-back to enhance feature walls with texture and varying colours in thick blocked cladding, thin split-cladded stripes and other interesting, more contemporary patterns.

One thing that has been very apparent though, is the more recent move towards making this feature wall a little more individually inspired. Instead of following the general decor trend of the market, home owners now instil a little piece of their personality into the wall finish.

A few individually inspired wall finishes include wall paper (scenes e.g. forest or city scape), vinyl art (design patterns and pictures - as featured in one of our previous articles) and 3D shapes, lines and markings.

New innovations in the decor industry allow us to purchase stamped templates (500 x 500mm), which can be painted any colour and tiled across a full wall to give it texture, depth and a sense of movement and activity. An additional creative idea is to cut out large shapes, paint them bright colours and glue them onto the feature wall eg. differing sizes of circles or squares painted varying colours in a complimentary layout, or large foam hearts painted pastel colours for a baby's room.

Feature Wall Art

First brain recordings of a fruit fly

Prior work on fruit flies (Drosophila) has led to many important breakthroughs in biology - the fact that genes reside on chromosomes and our understanding of how genes control development both emerged from experiments on fruit flies. New research hopes to use these tiny insects to help determine how neurons give rise to complex behaviour. This effort is helped by the fact that it is easy to manipulate the genes of fruit flies, but scientists find it very difficult to record brain activity due to their small size.

Researchers have recorded the neural-cell activity of fruit flies before, but only in restrained preparations. Now, a postdoctoral scholar has been able to develop a preparation where the insect is tethered instead of restrained and is free to flap its wings. By removing a patch of the hard cuticle covering the brain, they were able to target their electrodes onto genetically marked neurons.

In their experiments, the researchers discovered that when the insects began to fly, the visual cells immediately ramped up their activity. The neurons' responses to visual motion roughly doubled at the start of flight, suggesting that their system is more sensitive during flight. The increase in neural activity is initially very abrupt and a neurochemical is quickly released during flight setting the insects' brain into this different state.

The researchers focused on those neurons in the fly's visual system that keep the flight stabilised and found that these cells help the fly detect when its body posture changes. The signals from these cells are thought to control steering muscles that change the pattern of wing motion and bring the insect back into equilibrium.

In addition, the researchers plan to use their tethered-flight system to record the activity of other types of cells, including olfactory and motor cells, to determine if these also behave differently during flight compared to when flies are at rest.

The scientific work on Drosophila is of general interest because sensory neurons in many species, including birds, rodents and primates, change their response strength depending on the behavioural state of the animal.

Source: Science Daily.

Fruit fly brain activity

Are you up for the challenge?

If you made it through supporting vegetarianism last month, then this month will be much more of a challenge - it is vegan month. Veganism embraces the exclusion of all animal products in diet and in lifestyle.

An animal product is any material derived from animals and includes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, honey, fur, leather, wool, and silk. Other commonly used animal products are bees wax, bone char, bone china, carmine, casein, cochineal, gelatin, isinglass, lanolin, lard, rennet, shellac, tallow, whey and yellow grease.

Ethical vegans will not use animal products for clothing, toiletries etc and will try to avoid ingredients that have been tested on animals. They will not buy fur coats, leather shoes, belts, bags, wallets, woollen jumpers or silk scarves. Alternatives to wool include cotton, hemp, rayon and polyester. In warmer climates, vegans tend to wear shoes made of hemp, linen or canvas.

But if this sounds all too extreme for vegan month, choose rather to be aware of how much you are surrounded by animal products and how much is actually consumed or used, or just be adventurous and try a vegan meal in a restaurant.

Any plant-based dish may be vegan. Common vegan dishes prepared without animal ingredients include ratatouille, falafel, hummus, veggie burrito, rice and beans, veggie stir-fry and pasta primavera. Ingredients such as tofu, tempeh and seitan are widely used in vegan cuisine. Plant cream and plant milk (such as rice milk, almond milk or soy milk) are used instead of cow or goats' milk. Vegan recipes will use apple sauce, ground flax seeds, mashed potatoes, soft or silken tofu or starch-based egg-substitute products instead of chickens' eggs.

Meat or "mock meats" made of soy or gluten (including vegetarian sausage, vegetarian mince and veggie burgers) are widely available. Vegan cheese can replace cow and goats' cheese, although vegan cheese does not melt in the same way as it does not contains casein, a protein found in human and animal milk.

It is recommended that vegans eat foods fortified with B12 or take a supplement. B12 is a bacterial product that cannot be found reliably in plant foods and is needed for the formation and maturation of red blood cells and the synthesis of DNA and for normal nerve functions.

Review a list of vegan friendly restaurants in and around the Cape Town area or nationally around South Africa.

Vegan Month

Double pleasure - full moon and eclipse

At 669 metres above sea level this view point is just about high enough to see Robben Island, the Atlantic Seaboard and a windy stretch of beach at Blouberg on the other side of the bay. During the 17th century the British tried to call Lion's Head the Sugar Loaf Mountain. The Dutch, however, felt that the mountain's shape resembled a crouching lion and eventually settled on Leeuwen Kop (Lion's Head), and Leeuwen Staart (Lion's Tail) for Signal Hill.

The peak of Lion's Head is part of the Table Mountain National Park, and while the suburbs of the city surround the peak and Signal Hill on almost all sides, strict management by city authorities has kept development of housing off the higher ground. The area is significant to the Cape Malay community, who historically lived in the Bo-Kaap quarter close to Lion's Head and there are a number of historic graves and shrines (kramats) of Malay leaders on the lower slopes of the mountain.

Lion's Head is covered in Fynbos (indigenous Cape vegetation with an unusually rich biodiversity) and supports a variety of small animals. Three main vegetation types can be found in this, relatively small, area. All three of them are endemic to the city of Cape Town and can be found nowhere else. Most of Lion's Head is covered in endangered Granite Fynbos, which fades into Peninsula Shale Renosterveld (critically endangered) on the lower slopes towards Signal Hill in the north. Right on the summit of Lion's Head however, is a tiny patch of endangered Sandstone Fynbos, a different ecosystem that is also found nearby on the top of Table Mountain.

On a clear day the views from atop Lion's Head are spectacular and are great for taking photographs of the Cape Peninsula and Robben Island. But at night, especially on full moon, the sun setting over the sea and the moon rising over the mountains and the views of Cape Town on the way up will keep you motivated to reach the top.

Things you will need for the full moon hike include: a headlamp or torch, warm jersey, comfortable hiking shoes, camera, backpack with food and drinks and friends to enjoy the adventure with!

The walk to the summit should take approximately an hour and thirty minutes. Along the path there are a series of chains and ladders to assist climbers as they scramble up a particularly steep section of rocky faces. Although these chains add an element of adventure, be cautious as they are not suitable for young children and the elderly. Walkers with children are advised to take the more child-friendly alternate route around the chains.

Directions to Lion's Head:

The entrance to Lion's Head can be found on Signal Hill Road, at the Base of Forestry Road. Coming from the centre of Town, drive up towards the mountain in the direction of Camps Bay, via Kloofnek Road. The Lion's Head turnoff is at the lowest point between Table Mountain on the left and Lion's Head on the right.

The signage is clear and Signal Hill Road is just to your right. The parking area is about a hundred meters up the road and the Lion's Head hiking path is also clearly marked.

Hiking Lion's Head at full moon is something that you have to do at least once. Whether or not you actually see the moon, the hike to the summit boasts spectacular views and there are routes to suit all levels of fitness. Once at the top the atmosphere is bustling as hikers eagerly await the sunset and the rise of the full moon. If by chance you ever forget it's a great way of reminding yourself why you chose to live in the Mother City. This year December 10th boasts not only full moon, but a total lunar eclipse in the late afternoon as well.

Full Moon walk Photos: i-shoot photography

Hot News

2 Articles in SA Home Owner

Looking to extend your patio or include hardscaping in your garden?

Then get the November SA Home Owner Magazine, as Cheral and other industry experts have provided some tips on how to do this in the article on "Paving the way - outdoor flooring that is both beautiful and functional" and "Liven up - add hardscaping elements to zhoosh up dull and lifeless areas in your garden".

In The Property Magazine

Cheral Kennedy (owner of Living Matter) gave expert advice on the trends in landscaping in the September / October issue of the The Property Magazine.

Featured Plant

Lampranthus Multiradiatus

Lampranthus Multiradiatus
(Scarlet Vygie)

Family :


Description :

Indigenous succulent with bright pink flowers to 0.5m.

Flowering time :

Late Spring to Summer

Conditions :

  • Full Sun
  • Little water
  • Evergreen
  • Wind resistant
  • Some frost sensitivity
  • Well drained soil

View more detailed information on this plant in our plant directory.

Wine of the month

Wine of the month

Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2010

Winery : Bosman Family Vineyards
Winemaker : Corlea Fourie

Description :

This white wine from 100% Chenin Blanc features in their Special Vineyard Selection - those wines which tell a story from whence they come.

Aroma : A melange of apricots, nectarines, grapefruit rind, honey and almond brittle.

Palate : Beautiful restrained mouth-feel. Finishes with lively, mineral accent.

Winemaking : Partly naturally fermented. Barrel fermented and matured in French Oak casks for 9 months with regular stirring to facilitate integration. To be enjoyed 2 - 5 years after vintage.

Food Pairing : Serve with gourmet salads, seared scallops, grilled chicken or tuna. An ultimate favourite with poached vanilla apple on a ginger biscuit base served with cinnamon ice cream.

If you want to purchase or require more information on this wine, or if you are interested in a private or corporate tasting, please email Karen or visit her website.

Planting Guide

Herb or Veggie
Aubergine (egg plant)

Seeds can be sown or plants can be planted for the following herbs and veggies this month:


  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Mielies
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Squash
  • Sweetcorn
  • Swisschard
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Herbs

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Chives
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Mustard
  • Oreganum
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • View our full planting plan in our resources section of our website.

    Brain Teaser

    We all love a chance to test our own brain capacity with brain teasers. Try see if you can figure out this one...

    Brain Teaser

    October's Teaser Answer :
    "Man Overboard!"


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    Contact Cheral:

    Cell: 082 82 509 82