Tuesday, 12 May 2015

confessions of a former vegetarian

It feels like everyone I know is either eating vegan - no meat, no dairy or Banting - mostly meat and dairy. Two opposite ends of the diet spectrum. Both have their merits and I have tried elements of each. You see, I used to be a vegetarian. Strictly speaking I was a pescetarian as I only ate seafood and dairy and eggs as animal sources of food. I would have loved to be vegan on principle, but it’s just too time-consuming for the life I lead. And, well, cheese. And sushi and Mom’s carrot cake with cream cheese icing and milkshakes and Pad Thai and… 

I was never on my soap box about being vegetarian. I couldn't say it was because I love animals (which I do) because what about the poor fishies, do only the fluffy animals count? I couldn't say it was because I don’t agree with factory farming because fish are some of the worst factory farmed creatures on Earth. I couldn't say it was because I didn't like the taste because I stopped eating red meat at the age of 10 and chicken when I left home to go to varsity. It wasn't like I hadn't tasted it. A few people accused me of just being fussy; others said I was using it as an excuse to starve myself. Maybe I was. The best way to describe it was that I just didn't need meat. And I was healthy without it so why not?

Then I decided to have a baby. With a carnivorous, chocolate scoffing South African man who had been warning me for more than 5 years – the entire time we had been together – that when I was pregnant I was going to want steak. The man knows me well. Before I decided to have a baby, or try for a baby at least, I knew it would change me. But nothing prepared me for ALL the ways in which it changed me. Number one: my diet. One day after three months of non-stop vomiting and nausea I could finally eat something other than salt and vinegar chips and marmite on toast. It was chicken. Plain chicken on plain brown bread (not the low GI seedy stuff, don’t be silly) was the only thing that didn't send me running to the porcelain throne. I can remember a particular day, not long after the chicken sandwiches had become my staple diet, when all I wanted was a roast. A beef roast. Nic thought I was losing it, he couldn't quite believe that what he had been saying for half a decade was coming true. He thought I wasn't pregnant but undergoing a slow lobotomy, day by day. Where his meat-eating genes were taking me over. Well, that’s exactly what happened. The only thing that kept my tummy full enough to end the cycle of starving, eating something, vomiting it up, starving again and then feeling sick from being starving…was meat. Yes, I'm ashamed to say any principles I may have had about animals and farming and eating cute fluffy things went out of the window. And before you judge me (yes you on your soap box!), try vomiting 25 times in one day. That is more than there are HOURS IN A DAY. You will not have the energy to fight for your principles; you will do anything short of harming your tiny baby to feel better. Believe me. Mini Nicholas was clearly in charge and there was nothing I could do about it.

So ladies you have been warned: before you let a man make you pregnant make sure you like him. And his inherited traits. And his diet. And his eyes. And most things about him. Because they are coming to take over your body. 

// image of delicious smoked salmon omelette with chive creme fraiche from drizzle and dip

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

the biggest news of my life

The Hub and I were in the third, no fourth, airport of that day. Or days, if you count the umpteenth time zones we went through. We were about to get on our fourth Emirates flight in as many weeks. Have you ever noticed how all major airports look the same? Especially international terminals, where the same mix of people seem to exist in equal proportions. This was a year ago next week. How time has flown by and how life has changed. We have a baby son. What an adventure!

On our first trip through Dubai airport at the very beginning of our trip, we met a man we christened Uniball. Darling Uniball was there AGAIN when we went through immigration in Bangkok on the way home. So either there is a country out there where men insist on wearing tight, black, shiny Nike tracksuits with no broeks or undies to protect their dignity, or Uniball was FOLLOWING US. Thank the Lord not to Vietnam. My best was when he leant forward to pick up his hand luggage and showed us a view no person who has just shared an Economy seat for 8 hours with their husband and a very drunk Russian man should ever have to witness. The poor man had clearly had some sort of surgery and due to his lack of undergarments everyone in Terminal 3 of Dubai International could see the clear outline of his misfortune. The Hub and I laughed about Uniball for the remainder of our travels. It's amazing the things you remember from a trip. But I digress. 

On the way back from 2 weeks of pleasant mayhem in Nam (baby) and a week of sloth-like drinking and tanning in Krabi, we were in Dubai again. I can’t tell you if it was morning or night, just that I felt like I’d been swallowed by a whale, basted in breadcrumbs and deep fried on the wings of a Boeing 747. I had a niggling suspicion I might be knocked up already, but told myself it was impossible. It had to be impossible: I drank my body weight in gin on that overnight train to Da Nang…not to mention those free evening cocktails at the Sheraton Club where something called a John Collins was often mixed up in the South African to Thai translation of Tom Collins. Much, MUCH stronger amount of booze. Never mind I had a frighteningly firm massage from a tiny Thai lady on the beach, where she delicately rearranged my internal organs. She would have squashed the baby! Like a Vietnamese pancake! (Flatter than even the normal, Western kind). I was in the horrors.

So I did what any self-respecting jet lagged to hell person would do, I squashed the thought of my pancake baby down and lost myself in Emirates lovely selection of in-flight entertainment, telling the Hub I would take a test once we were safely home and I could buy one in English, from Clicks, with my Clubcard. Nice and familiar like.

After 36 hours of travelling, the Hub and I were shattered and so I nigh on forgot about the possible pancake baby. Until the next morning. It was Tuesday and we had had the foresight to take an extra day of leave to recover from all of the airports. As promised, I made my way to my local Clicks and bought about 5 different kinds of pregnancy tests. All the time thinking of my misbehaviour on holiday and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. And yes there were the two lines, or the plus sign depending on which brand I used. I was pregnant. And then the waiting began for my first scan at 9 weeks (4 weeks away) to see if our little miracle was indeed a Vietnamese pancake and I had started out being the worst kind of partying, boozing mother.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

the last 3 months

Have been crazy and unexpected and dreadful and wonderful in equal measures. I know I disappeared for a while there, but once you have read this I think you'll forgive me.

I’m BACK! Well I look slightly different…who am I kidding…TOTALLY different. My boobs are aircraft carriers, my butt needs its own postal code and my favourite skinny jeans haven’t zipped closed since the end of May. Yes I’m pregnant. However. I am not one of those pretty preggie fairies who wear their normal clothes until they sneeze out a 2.8kg baby at 40 weeks. Since the large, inexplicable bawl I had in a hotel room in Saigon when I couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3 weeks pregnant and my husband knew instantly what was up, I have been the full works. Hormones like a raging river of moods, eating and throwing up. Oh, the throwing up.

The Hub and I have been planning this for a while. We are accountants after all. Did you really think one day we’d think: OK let’s go off the Pill today and see what happens? Not a chance. Don’t be silly. We needed to be PREPARED. I know some of you raised an eyebrow when I bought a “mommy” car at the end of last year instead of the BMW I really wanted. Or even when we bought a house with swings and a massive garden; and a pool perfect for splashing in. Your suspicions were true. We didn’t dare tell a soul though, best to protest profusely when anyone made mention of babies. Remember this post I wrote a year ago? We did not want to bring the full force of our mothers' desire to be grandmothers’ down on us. Nor did we want the dreaded Bump Watch. You know what I mean. The look that says: did you just eat a large veg curry with all the trimmings or is that a tiny preggy belly I see? I couldn't have tolerated it. The weight of everyone’s expectations. And then imagine we battled to fall pregnant, as do so many wonderful, perfectly healthy couples? The awkward questions and uneasy looks from pregnant friends. Uh uh. No way. It became our little secret, the Hub and I. We never expected it to happen so soon, but are eternally grateful and blessed that it has. I am hoping to record some sweet memories of the whole process on this blog, if my darling child lets me have a little more energy, and perhaps some stories and photographs from our amazing trip to Southeast Asia.

// photo taken of the Perfume River, Huế on our sublime trip to Vietnam 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

time for our asian adventure

The time has come for our dream holiday to Vietnam and Thailand. I'm taking a little break from blogging, see ya at the end of April with many happy memories and photos to share!

In the meantime, here are some fun posts you might have missed:

How to make a delicious, warming vegetarian chilli
The very first post I ever wrote
My home town
An easy Greek-inspired starter for your next dinner party
Why being married is different to being engaged
On Nelson Mandela and being South African
The time our wedding was on bloved
Take a mini holiday in the Midlands
A cat called Duncan
And one of my most popular posts ever...on babies

// image of Ha Long Bay fishing village from Pinterest

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

hump day syndrome

The only time that hump day is bearable is when it’s a Tuesday because Friday is a public holiday. THE ONLY TIME. 

Otherwise it is loosely referred to as That Day Before Phuza Thursday or That Day When One is Forced to Look at the Fact that One has Not Yet Been To the Gym This Week. Or That Day when One Needs One Times Enormous Gin and Tonic. Regardless, it sucks. You have Monday and Tuesday under your belt, slaving away in a recessionary economy, with no gym to wear down the anxiety of all the taxi drivers and suicidal pedestrians (and occasional goat if you live in Natal), and still have Thursday to look forward to. And if you have a Real Job, Fridays are seldom an excuse to go home at 12pm but rather a day of deadlines and Oh dear I haven’t prepared for Monday’s meetings yet. I think it’s a real disease. It’s the day I feel the grumpiest, the most tired, the most hungry and the most mean-spirited. With this in mind, I make sure no life choices are made on Wednesday. And then hunker down on the couch with a giant gin. For breakfast.

// DIY geometric mobile from the etsy blog

Friday, 21 March 2014

skin: it's time for some anti-chemical warfare

Lately the blog world seems to be full of posts about skin. Adult acne, oil cleanses, Kim Gray’s shameless consumption of overpriced skin solutions. I thought I would add my 20 cents (because two doesn’t cover it) into the mix.

I also battle with hormonal related skin issues, like Natasha and many other women. It’s definitely a shoe-in for the Spa for Embarrassing Illnesses, but there it is. We can’t control it. Certain times of the month my skin is clear and glowy and wonderful and others it’s a mess. I feel like that girl from the advert with the lobster flapping on her face. Like most women, I do the only thing I can and resort to foundation. I prefer the mineral kind, especially in a humid East Coast summer. Underneath the make-up though, you know those evil little red bumps are lurking and waiting to unleash their appearance once that foundation comes off. Make-up doesn't treat the cause.

A few months ago, I decided to try and eliminate all the chemicals from my cleansing regime. Mainly to satisfy my hippie urges, but also because I had begun to suspect that we are all in an awful cycle of using chemicals to clear up the problems the chemicals caused in the first place. When I say chemicals I mean ingredients like petrochemicals (that are basically oil by-products) and formaldehyde (similar to the stuff they use to preserve BODIES). Once I starting doing a bit of research, I saw this thinking all over the net. Using garlic juice, ginger juice, coconut oil, olive oil, raw egg, raw oats and honey…you name it. All natural items we would normally consider to be food. Turns out the things that are pure enough to put IN your body, are pure enough to put ON your body. While I’m not sold on smelling like an Italian bistro all day for the sake of a pimple, I do agree with the logic. And we’ve tried everything else right? Peeling eyeballs and no sun exposure can’t be the only answer surely? My skincare regime currently consists of a weekly oat and honey mask. The bonus of this is I recycle any leftover oat and honey moosh by feeding it to my Spaniels. Full on. Then I only use Victorian Garden Lemon and Geranium cleanser as a face wash, with a plain old face cloth. I don’t even need a moisturiser any more, partly because it’s summer and partly because my skin is no longer stripped dry after I wash it. Plus all the natural products smell AMAZING. You feel like you’re at a spa every morning of the week. When winter rolls around, I will probably use this tea tree moisturiser. My skin has taken a few weeks to stop freaking out. The same as when I changed to organic shampoo, it’s like your skin and scalp need to shed all the chemical build up first before the natural ingredients can work their magic. The results are beautiful though.

// I am no skin expert, and this post is not sponsored by Faithful to Nature or the Victorian Garden. I just love their products and enjoy spreading a little of that love.

// photo from here

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

aerodynamic dog socks

Man alive, I love dooce. I sent the Hub this picture of hers this morning, with “Look. DOG SOCKS!” His response was that they look more like broken paw protectors – I suppose as opposed to the dreaded cones favoured by vets. He then said they don’t look very arrow manic. Achieving an auto correct fail on email is a new low I thought. Auto correct your flippin spelling on Outlook I thought. Turns out he is IN THE MIND OF HOWARD. Arrow manic means and I quote: You know... Where the air goes past your body like you are made of arrows...Dying.

OK this needs context. Twice a week we take our pups to the promenade to go runnings on the beaches (actually it’s trotting on the concrete NEXT to the beaches, but those faces just say RUNNINGS ON THE BEACHES!!! Exclamation marks included). As responsible dog parents we were worried when Coco and then Howard got little raw patches on their paws. We thought it might be from the friction of running on the concrete and paving of the promenade. Of course our thought process went to the logical solution…dog socks. Or dog Nike trainers. Because eina. Turns out the raw paw situation was more to do with it being autumn and a Spaniel’s penchant for charging into bug infested piles of leaves and less to do with the runnings on the beaches. We were off the hook. However, the dog socks just stuck. When next you see Coco and Howard trotting past the pier, they will be wearing these. It’s our duty as their parents to embarrass them right?

// photo above of Chuck from dooce, photo of Howie and Chloe is all mine