Wednesday, 20 November 2013

freedom and some free career advice

Today the Hub wrote his final Board exam to qualify as a CA(SA). If you knew the years leading up to this point (9), the sacrifices made (many), you would also be driving to work with fat, warm tears in your eyes. It feels like we are on the precipice. At the point where stones are crumbling beneath our scared toes, and we know if we fall into the abyss freedom will follow.

I will be hard pressed to encourage my children to follow the same path we have. The sacrifice is too great for the gain. If you can pass all the exams required to qualify on the first go, then fine. Excellently done. I was one of those lucky few. If not, go and be happy rather. Even if you pass all the exams, by which time you will be a problem solving, analytical machine (something like 90% of South African Financial Directors are CA’s), you have a life of long working hours in front of a laptop to look forward to. Eyes so tired they go fuzzy at around 230 every afternoon, back and neck pain from sitting in your desk chair for hours at a time and fighting off marketing and sales people with a stick. (They think we are there to do all their admin/steal all their money/STIFLE ALL THEIR JOY). If you are lucky enough to work for an understanding company, where you only work 40 hours a week, you will be the minority. Any creativity will be stifled under the weight of enough Excel spreadsheets to sink a battleship. Speaking of Excel, I can guarantee you will be a pro by year 2 at the most. Most of us can mine data into a pivot table quicker than you can sneeze. Did I mention the working for peanuts as an article clerk for 3 years, while your peers earn decent starting salaries and get a lovely head start on the lifestyle every 20-something desires?

But what do I know? According to my friend and doctor, Te’, their profession is even worse. At least it’s rather unlikely you will kill someone behind that laptop screen.

PS If you haven’t a clue what a CA(SA) is…read this.

PPS If you haven’t a clue what a pivot table is…trust me, you don’t need to know.

// image from here

a simple starter

I am no Nigella. More like Jamie Oliver's vegetarian postman. I am that far from him. (By the way did we all watch him as the celebrity chef in Masterchef this week, I was CRYING like a BABY. Starstruck deluxe. I would sell my own Granny to see him in the flesh. He is the only reason I cook. OK so maybe that's a bit melodramatic, but I'm a huge fan.) Where was I? Oh yes, the starter idea. 

We had a few friends over for some of Jamie's Guinness lamb shanks and the Hub tasked me with making the starter and dessert. I love making desserts so I whipped up a lemon and lime panna cotta (easy peasy, email me if you want the recipe). My inspiration for the entree' came from these cute blue bowls from Woolies. I cheated and bought hummus, good quality olives and Danish feta from the deli and toasted some pita triangles to dip in them. My piece de resistance was the roasted pepper dip. I roasted off some sweet little red and orange peppers in the oven, until I could pull off the skin easily. Then I blitzed them up with garlic, lemon juice and half a cup of white beans. Super easy to make and a complete hit with my Hub and guests. If you notice the beautiful wood table...the Hub finished it a few weeks ago. So proud of his man skills.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

125 years of national geographic: the power of photography

I have been a great lover of National Geographic since the old, well-thumbed copies in the loo at my Gran's house. You know what I mean. Good old-fashioned toilet reading material. When they went online, I was happier than a piggie in...well you can fill in the blanks. Happy. Info on weird little cannibalistic insects and faraway red giants, available any time I cared to look. Robert Draper, a writer for Nat Geo, wrote an article called "The Power of Photography" in celebration of 125 years of the institution.

"By wresting a precious particle of the world from time and space and holding it absolutely still, a great photograph can explode the totality of our world, such that we never see it quite the same again."

"When I tell people that I work for this magazine, I see their eyes grow wide, and I know what will happen when I add, as I must: “Sorry, I’m just one of the writers.” A National Geographic photographer is the personification of worldliness, the witness to all earthly beauty, the occupant of everybody’s dream job. I’ve seen The Bridges of Madison County—I get it, I’m not bitter. But I have also frequently been thrown into the company of a National Geographic photographer at work, and what I have seen is everything to admire and nothing whatsoever to envy."

"Let’s not confuse nobility with glamour. What transfixes me, almost as much as their images, is my colleagues’ cheerful capacity for misery. Apparently they wouldn’t have it any other way."
"In a world seemingly benumbed by a daily avalanche of images, could those eyes still cut through the clutter and tell us something urgent about ourselves and about the imperiled beauty of the world we inhabit? I think the question answers itself."

  1. The most famous Nat Geo magazine cover of an Afghani girl, 1985
  2. A parasitic Eupelmis vuilleti wasp up close, very close
  3. Close encounter with an ellie in Botswana
  4. Photographing penguins in a snowstorm in South Georgia
  5. The failure that wasn't a failure - Amelia Earheart circa 1937
  6. Jane Goodall and a baby Chimp in Tanzania, 1965
  7. The critically endangered Cape Parrot, indigenous to South Africa and part of a huge community-centred conservation effort
  8. View of the Long Island, Bahamas from space (taken by an astronaut!)

You can see the entire collection on

Sunday, 10 November 2013

granny mouse country house

A few months ago, the Hub and I took an executive decision to inject some romance into our sad, lonesome, little marriage. So we pretended it was 2012 and spent the weekend honeymooning it up at Granny Mouse in the Midlands.

Wow. We splashed out and got one of their newly built deluxe rooms overlooking the Lions River (see pic below). They even left a cheese platter and champagne in our room! We had the hot stone couples massage to start off and then strolled around the beautiful gardens - full of flowers despite it being the middle of winter. For dinner we went to their fine dining restaurant, The Eaves, the salted caramel ice cream was the dairy of a lifetime. In true Kate style I left half of my clothes behind, and they kept them until the next weekend, not a single sock missing. 

We left after breakfast, took a meander to Piggly Wiggly and did some of my favourite things. I bought second hand books and an azalea. As one does at Piggly Wiggly. The Hub bought some wine and we looked at hideously expensive wooden furniture. bought some gold Tslops from Tsonga, an enterprise that employees ladies from the local community to hand make the most beautiful shoes. We had lunch at the uber cool Sapore, where I may or may not have a family connection, and the pizza was thin-based and rocket topped.  I can't wait to do it all again.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

marriage is sacred

Once, on a long evening walk with my friend, I asked her about her own marriage. “Why are you together? What makes your love stick through all the years of change and growth?”

She took a few careful steps over a cracked sidewalk and then laughed her answer. “I’m with him because he’s my home.” Those words echoed in my heart and rang true for my own life. Yes, I’m finally home as well.

- from the true story of a 7 year marriage on Fly Softly My Love

I know what you’re thinking. What does this KID, married for less than two years, know about marriage? Well I’ll tell you. I know about my mom and dad’s 29 year marriage, my in laws 33 year marriage, my aunts and uncles marriages, my grandparents' nearly 60 year marriage and the marriages of my 3, 4, 5 and 15 years strong friends. I know that marriage is difficult, and stressful and compromising. I know it destroys boundaries and then builds walls where those boundaries once stood. I know my husband once saw a vision from God that marriage should be like a one way glass house, where you can both see out but no-one can see in. I know the top three issues causing problems in marriage: money, kids and quality time. In that order. I know marriage has been both the best thing and the most difficult thing I have done in my life so far. I know that my love language is Words of Affirmation. My husband's is Quality Time. I know my husband can be domineering, stubborn, selfish and anxious. I know I can be domineering, stubborn, selfish and anxious. I know having God in your life and your marriage holds you accountable. I know marriage is mentioned in the second chapter of the very first book of the Bible, it's that important. I know my wedding day was the best day of my life. I know he is the love of my life. I know he is kind-hearted, loving, responsible, hilarious and sexy. I know he loves me more than anyone on this planet. I know he would do anything to make me happy. I know he is my Person. I know he is my home.

I love you Nicholas, you infuriating, mad, funny, gorgeous creature.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

extremely exciting news

No it's not a baby.

We are going to VIETNAM!!! And THAILAND!!! Someone Wake Me Up. This is the dream we've been saving and planning and holding on to for two years. It's the dream that got us through some pretty hard times this year and kept me going when I had nothing else to look forward to. So ja, it's a big deal. Why Vietnam? It all started with this episode and James May's colander on his head and those silk suits and....why not?!

We are doing a three week stint (three whole weeks of leave, what?! YES please) consisting of two weeks touring Vietnam and a week cocktailing and beaching and infinity pooling it up in Thailand. Did I yet mention how unbelievably excited I am? I think I did. Now let me shatter your American-fed misconceptions about Nam. It is NOT all Vietcong and tunnels to Cambodia and eating doggies. Not that the thought of seeing a dog hanging in a window doesn't send me into orbit, I will FLEECE that butcher, but apparently the dog eating is quite over-rated. Please, Lord. Howard would never forgive me. Vietnam is insanely good and sticky food, and French influenced architecture and limestone cliffs and pristine blue water and floating markets in the Mekong Delta and pointy grass hats and general South East Asian wonderfulness.

Let me show you.

We will be spending two days on a junk boat in How Long Bay (known to those outside our household as Ha Long Bay). This includes a Tai Chi class on the deck in the morning. HELLO! In case you didn't know, Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like the Great Wall of China baby. But wetter. And better.

Ko Phi Phi a la The Beach.

Infinity pool-swim-to-the-bar-private beach 5 star luxury in Krabi

Pho, the national noodle dish of Vietnam, in Ha Noi (not to be confused with Hoi An)

Venice in Vietnam (the ancient shipping village of Hoi An)

A gentle paddle along the Perfume River in Hue

Stinky but delicious dragonfruit from the floating markets in the Mekong Delta

Beautiful old Vietnamese people, who show that age has indeed got it's own beauty.

And yes possibly the funniest part of the trip is getting to say "And how many dong do you want for that?".

Photographs from: Pinterest, here, Trip Advisor, Jim's Junket, Steamy Kitchen, Jean-Marie Hullot, the Restrospective Traveller, All Points East Travel and Rehahn Photography.

And if I have sparked your interest in this magical country...Dawn Jorgensen, The Incidental Tourist living in Cape Town, tells the story of Vietnam in a way that I love.