30 Countries Before 30: Femi Luwa

Like many of my friends who have turned 30 this year, I turn 30 in a few weeks. But unlike my high school classmate Femi, who successfully snagged in her 30th country before the 30th year bell went up (and currently has 37 under her belt), my country count is just about a third of my age.

In March 2016 Femi whose very fitting nickname is “Aunty Fun Times” took her first ever girls’ trip to Thailand. It was an exhilarating ten days of excessive island hopping, curry eating, mai tai sipping, full moon partying, beach side massages and endless exploring.

5 months later in August 2016, she packed her bags (7 suitcases if we’re being precise) and moved to Europe. In the two years she’s lived there she’s visited over 20 new countries.

In this feature she answers a ton of our questions. From feminine matters about being comfortable in bikinis, her secret to that glow on holiday, dealing with cramps on travels to general travel tips, solo travel and travel blogging. I also couldn’t help but ask what happens if she ends up with a non-travel loving partner! See what she says!

How I'm a Foodie but Maintain my Weight (after losing 25kg!)

Just in case you’re in doubt, I’d start by establishing my love for food and my sweet tooth. Writing this alone makes me lick my lips thinking of a cheesy meaty lasagna with a vanilla milkshake.

But today, I’m going to share the flip side of my love for food. This food lover is also a mini fitness freak and healthy eating junkie and advocate.

In 2016, I decided to change my lifestyle and go on a life changing journey. I lost about 25kg /5- 6 dress sizes in the process and I’ve managed to keep it off two years down.

The Best Fashion Advice I Ever Received

I started my fashion journey quite early in life.

I was told that in elementary school, I came home with a report card that read "She takes pride in her personal appearance". My mum took that as a sign of my upcoming good fashion sense. Little did she know that about 15 years later, she'd be nagging about how I dress in a unconventional albeit stylish manner.

I went through a tomboy phase in which I honestly couldn't be bothered but my interest sparked when I started to see style as an art form. It started with fashion illustrations, progressed to fashion magazines, then blogs. Today, I honestly don't keep up with any trends. Not only because it's quite difficult (can anyone else relate?), but also because I don't feel the need to. My style is mine.

The Easiest Puff Pastry Sausage Roll (+ 5 Favourite Breakfast Pantry Items)

It happened so fast - my maternity leave is over but it’s been an exciting 4 months, bonding with my little one. Now that I reflect, the last few months have been exciting. In addition to the midnight feeds and hundreds of diaper change, I have fueled my passion for cooking and food so much compared to my maternity leave for my first baby which I basically used it to complete my thesis for my MSC Finance Program.

This time around, I have increased my scanty herb garden - good old fennel and dill joined the herb stand. I also started growing more vegetables aside from tomatoes - introduced Cauliflower, Lettuce - purple and green, Cabbage and Green Peppers. Honestly growing your food is so therapeutic it deserves a separate blog post! As regards to cooking I learnt many more technics. I decided to engage chefs I knew were the best in the field in the country to guide me through and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.

How To Get The Best Deals for Your Family Photoshoot Sessions

Now that back to school season is over, I’m sure that many of us are already thinking about the fast approaching holiday season and all the expenses that go with it. We’re also probably hoping to squeeze in a family photoshoot.

As a photographer and frugal mama, I thought this would be a great time to share my six top tips for getting the best photography deals for your upcoming milestones and events.

So here we go!

Our Baby Weaning Experience and 7 Important Things I Learnt

Oh weaning! [insert very mild barely audible sigh]

Even before I had a baby, I totally looked forward to the weaning and introduction of solids to my kids. I remembered some of the fun things we had done when my little sister started eating solids and how in particular we’d mash up potatoes for her.

With new generation Instagram mums and social media it also seemed uber cool. Lots of ideas, recipes, tools and information surrounding weaning. Cookbooks too - with modified Nigerian recipes (our kids got to love Nigerian food yes!).

So yes, I was determined to be that “extra” and diligent mum who made colourful purees and fed her child nicely in the cutest baby high chair.

10+ Female African Fiction Writers to Read (other than Chimamanda Adichie)

I was reading an American Middle-Grade (junior secondary) textbook when I saw Purple Hibiscus listed as a Middle-Grade novel.

No surprises really as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is undoubtedly the most famous female African author right now. But it feels especially good to have Nigerian stories read by a wider public because Nigerians are voracious readers even reading many books by non-African authors.

Still, many people would like to and should have a broader view of the African continent asides Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. So, I decided to introduce you to, or remind you of about seventeen other female African authors of fiction whose works are worth reading.

This is not at all an exhaustive list, rather, consider it a starting point!

So here we go, in no particular order:

Four Things to Keep in Mind When Thrift Shopping

I feel like I've been thrift shopping longer than I've been walking or sleeping. But in truth, I officially begun in 2013 when my mum introduced me to the wonderful world of sustainable fashion. Isn't it lovely how we get to buy unique clothes of a superior quality at a cheap price and save the environment and the same time?

I don't really believe in buying things on a whim as a lot of thrift shoppers seem to do - thanks to my somewhat minimalistic lifestyle. So, I carefully plan my purchases ahead of time.

For the novices and even the more experienced shoppers, here are a few things to keep in mind while thrifting:

10 Days of Fun in Los Angeles (+ recommended tourist activities for first-timers)

I lived on the US East Coast for a couple of years and never visited the West coast - blame it on my budget student life.

And so when the time came for our usual girl time away, my bestie and I decided to explore the West Coast and had to pick a state. California came up first - then the battle for the ultimate city began: Los Angeles vs San Francisco. As each city has its unique experience and vibe, Los Angeles blended with the holiday we had in mind.

The journey to LA from Lagos was quite a distance but I broke it off with a transit in the UK for a couple of hours. I left Lagos on a Saturday morning and arrived in London by evening but my connecting flight was the next morning. I checked into a nearby hotel which I had pre-booked, sank into the bed feeling cozy with the feather pillows, ordered some room service and had dinner in bed while re-watching my favourite movie - Love & Basket Ball.

A Day in the Work Life of: Clara Affun - Health Policy & Systems Researcher

Even if you have no interest in medical research, you should read this piece. Clara, at 34,  has had an interesting career path and life in general - including two self confessed midlife crisis.  From attending secondary school in Nigeria like many of us, she now speaks 4.5 languages: German, French, English, Yoruba and Italian (the .5).

Clara is British-Nigerian: but unlike the standard validity of 10 years, her current British passport is an awkward 11 years 5 months. Despite this extra cherry of validity on top, she’s currently chosen to live and settle in Belgium for some reasons. In her words “One is that I love the country and want my future children to grow up in such a multilingual society, and two is because Brexit kind of means that I am marooned in Europe because of fears of losing my residency if I ever leave”. She loves travelling, languages, cooking (without ever tasting in the process!), reading, learning in general and living a nomadic life. In the last 12 years, she has lived in  6 countries with the most remote location being Chandraghona, a little village in Bangladesh on the border with Burma/Myanmar.

In terms of career, hers has definitely not been a straight line.