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

Sunday, 16 March 2014

the people who run the world

Have a secret society. 

A secret society where they dress up in drag, because of course very few women are allowed, or it wouldn’t be a legit secret society now would it? It's called Kappa Beta Phi, for no other reason I can see than that if it's debaucherous the ancient Greeks must be somehow involved. Only real Wall Street kings are invited, people like former Bear Sterns CEO and Chairman Alan Greenberg and ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. Can I just say that I called it? Banking is fraught with this kind of nonsense…James. Get out immediately! Before you get sucked in and find yourself at age 40 at the Four Seasons dressed in a purple tutu with another man’s red soled heels on your feet. We all know that the man with all the gold (oil) runs the world, and these men have a LOT of gold. Shiny, shiny dollar-denominated gold. And they wonder why we ridicule and dislike them. To be frank, I don’t care what they get up to, they are consenting adults and (hopefully) no-one is getting hurt - if you discount the pride and dignity of the tutu-d newbies. I just find it funny that these powerful people can be so clearly bored. I suppose having the power to rule the world loses its sheen after you’ve staged your third coup in Venezuela or provided your thousandth kilo of arms to the Sudanese. So inevitably you resort to lording your power over your lesser minions, and MAKE THEM WEAR FEMALE CLOTHING. Turns out my mother was right, being Joe Soap has its advantages. I may not be able to change the political landscape of a small South American country, but no-one can make me wear a tutu if I don’t wana. And I don’t wana.

// photo of Basil Rathbone from here, he was a South African born actor famous for playing the villian and the morally dubious.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

you know you’re South African when

You drive like a taxi. Not a yellow taxi placidly down Park Avenue or one of those black London taxis you see around Cape Town these days but a SOUTH AFRICAN TAXI. Overloaded, driven with a spanner because the entire steering column broke right off around 1998. Like most of Africa it’s drive like a lunatic or die. 

You say ja a lot.

Someone must just DARE to say something bad about South Africa…this includes expats, Americans, Australians, Kiwis, Europeans and mostly the Brits. You will take them DOWN. 

You complain about South Africa constantly. The government, the weather (how DARE it not be sunny and windless every day of the year? This is South Africa!), the roads, the potholes, the taxis (see above), the way FIFA took us for billions in 2010, the crime, car guards, SARS, the uselessness of the government…or did I mention that already?

But someone living outside South Africa must just DARE to say the same thing. You will take them DOWN.

You know the difference between now now, just now and now.

You remember the time that politician broke a chair during an interview on national TV and the news anchor pretended nothing had happened (watch the video here, funniest thing EVER, funnier than that Youtube sensation cat who smashes the printer)

You remember the time Julius told an international news correspondent that he was a “bloody agent”, a “thingie”.

You now use the term “bloody agent” in everyday conversation. For example: “I can’t believe you ate that last piece of lemon meringue pie you bloody agent”.

You laugh more than you cry.

You have debates with your friends regularly about whether Pick n Pay, Spar or Checkers is cheaper. And everyone will debate to the DEATH that their local store is the cheapest.

You have never said the word barbeque unless in a joke about Australians around the braai. Yes that is the proper word for grilling meat over an open fire. BRAAI.

You like nothing better than to pack up the entire contents of your home into a 4x4 bakkie and mission off into the wilderness.

You know what a bakkie is.

You eat roughly 200 cows, 4000 chickens and 95 pigs a year. And maybe a buffalo, a donkey and a few goats.

You are spirited, warm, friendly and feisty as all hell.

No matter how much you complain, you love your country and in the case of some kind of cataclysmic event would have to be physically removed with a winch.

//photo from our honeymoon on the Garden Route using my Nikon D5000

Monday, 10 March 2014

congratulations. you use your brain equally.

I took this 30 Second Brain Test today, assuming “Well done, you are an over-analytical, bean counter left brain” was a foregone conclusion. Think again. Take the test, just for fun. I’d be fascinated to know if it’s what you expected. I got, as the title of this post suggests, bang in the middle. Actually, 56% was RIGHT brain can you believe it? And I did the test at work (shhhhh) in the middle of analysing some sales data for a presentation next week. So I was in full-on accountant/left brain mode at the time and the results surprised me.

A wise CEO once said in a speech at my previous employer that we have four parts to our lives. Four compartments if you like. And if these are not in balance, that’s when restlessness and anxiety and unhappiness take root. He said we have a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional part in each of us and these all need to be given their time in the sun. If not, and one dominates, we start to lead dysfunctional lives. That message has stuck with me for years, mainly because said CEO had also done Cape Epic and was on his way to a new career in Europe. He was a hugely successful human being and someone to pay attention to. He also tended to neglect his family, which I think showed that not even he had it all figured out. Regardless, the message was a good one. In the last few months I have been focusing on getting my balance right. For too long, I think my mental and emotional parts were dominating and causing me to stress and spin out. So lately I’ve been doing more dawn runs on the promenade with my pups, and weights at the gym (if you want results those jolly kettle bells are the way forward by the way) and in the last two years I have become involved in my local church. I’ve found this balances out my emotional and mental state. Praying and having God to rely on soothes my worries and a solid workout charges up those endorphins and eases stress. I would like to suggest that if you are having a hard time in your life, and things feel out of kilter, think about those four parts and which of yours needs some work. It definitely helped me, and apparently even my brain is in balance these days.

// poster from GoodnightOwlDesigns on etsy

Saturday, 8 March 2014

the happy list

One of my absolute favourite, favourite bloggers is called dooce. Actually she’s called Heather, but her blog is called dooce. She is hilarious. She lives in Utah among all the Mormons (she was brought up as one) and has two beautiful young daughters, one of whom is thoughtful and reads a lot and the other who can only be called bat shit crazy. There are no other words for her. Dooce also has a dog called Coco so I mean we are practically sisters right?

Recently Heather, very circumspectly, blogged about her battles with anxiety and her foray into the self-help realm to get her anxiety under control. What came out of this was this a post, an earnest post about what makes her happy:

“But that’s just it. This isn’t about dreaming. This isn’t a bucket list. It’s a collection of small things that I can do frequently to add some much needed levity to my everyday life.” 

I found reading the comments below this wonderfully earnest post so therapeutic as women from around the world put up their lists of the small happiness to be found in life. Here is dooce’s happy list:

 1. Laughing with my kids
 2. Listening to and sharing new music
 3. Visiting new places
 4. Photographing new places
 5. Catching up with friends in person
 6. A great meal with friends
 7. Warm weather, loud music with the windows rolled down in my car
 8. Long phone calls with my mother

And here is mine:

1. Cuddles with Howie and Coco on the bed
2. Scrunching up the leaves of my lavender plants and releasing that calming fragrance
3. Home group
4. Reading my latest library book
5. Sushi and series on the couch on a Friday evening with the Hub
6. Holding hands
7. Dreaming of exotic places and future holidays
8. Boiling water using my precious Le Creuset stovetop kettle and then making the perfect mug of Earl Grey tea
9. Trying a new recipe, even if it's a hopeless failure

It's nice to have this list to hand when I'm tired and grumpy and need a pick me up, because most of the things on this list are so simple and ORDINARY. That's what struck me most about the happy lists of others on Dooce's blog, it's the small things make us happy and keep us going...not the huge exam results and big parties and milestones. What would your list look like?

// photo of dooce's Coco in the snow - just because it's so ridiculously hot and humid at the moment, and the sight of snow is a balm to my sweaty life

Monday, 17 February 2014

in defense of valentines day

Happy Valentines day. Enjoy the day bred more from capitalism than love. -{this was said by a guy whose job may as well be called love. He runs Dlala Nje a culture centre for disadvantaged kids in Hillbrow, and the recipient of FNB’s love in their Neknomination video}

Happy Valentine's: A magical day when single people are jealous of couples and couples are jealous of single people. {from here}

Bring on the cheesy red stuff Valentines day…I’m mentally prepared for you #notafan

Some V day love from that centre of mindless banter called Twitter. That last one was me. And I’d like to give Past Me a kick up the butt. Because when my husband turned up at the office at lunchtime on Valentines Day with 5 giant proteas and 8 heart shaped cupcakes (so that I could share with my work friends), I was smiling like it was 2012 and I was wearing a white dress again. So really, I had no business getting on the snarky band wagon and being…snarky. I succumbed to negative peer pressure. How boring. Note for next year: stop trying to be cool and instead admit that you long to be romanced and secretly compete with the other office ladies as to whose husband loves them just that teensy (read 6 vs 12 roses plays teddy bears and balloons) bit more. We are all living the capitalist dream with our white weddings and tropical holidays and should the nursery be grey and pink or pink and cream. We have no right to diss the holiday that we all secretly love. Here are my top 5 (rubbish) reasons we all love to hate V Day:

1. We are single.

2. We remember what it was like to be the only person ON THE PLANET who was single. All those insecurities and neuroses come rushing back. After 5 years of marriage.

3. We are afraid to be disappointed by the ones we love. See insecurities/neuroses above.

4. We want to be hipster cool, because admitting to the Great World Wide Web that we like silly trinkets and overpriced red roses is like admitting we support the mass destruction of Amazon rainforests to produce Big Macs. Because we all need more of those.

5. We are male. No further explanation needed.

// beautiful dog photograph from Jessica Claire
// proteas from the Hub

Sunday, 16 February 2014

hiding from the singhs

Due to the odd shape of our garden, we have 3 neighbours. Our house is on the corner of a crescent and a cul-de-sac so it’s less of a block and more of a hexagon. The neighbours to our right are the wonderful couple I spoke about here, who sent us lilies when our Grannies died last year. They are moving, to be replaced by a family with FOUR KIDS. Watch this space and your local newspaper; I cannot tolerate noisy neighbours and WILL RETALIATE. Violently. The neighbours at the bottom of our garden to the left are ghosts.  We have not seen hair nor hide of a human being in the 18 months we’ve lived in our house. They do have two extremely vocal Great Danes, so perhaps the house is run by them. 

Lastly, at the bottom of the garden to the right we have The Singhs. That’s not actually their surname, they are just an extended Indian family and so we pronounced that that must be their surname. Totally politically correct of course. They are quiet and lovely neighbours to have, except for the odd occasion when the Dad loses it and screams at the 2…3…maybe 4? kids that live there to get their stuff together and MOOOOOVE IT. Hilarious. Have you watched that Russell Peters comedy show where he imitates his Indian dad shouting at him: Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad? Well Mr Singh is just like that - you can watch it here but excuse the swearing. Due our present lack of funds we cannot afford to put up a proper wall between our property and the Singhs. Currently there is only a rickety fence. And of course the Hub is of the opinion that The Singhs spend every waking hour just waiting, WAITING, for us to run around starkers after we have showered. Because they can totally see 100m up our garden, past 5 large palms and an unidentified purple flowering tree (also large) and straight into our bedroom window. So I put on my make-up most mornings in the pitch dark SO THE SINGHS WON’T SEE MY BUM. Donations for the Great Barrier Wall of Singh are welcome.

// cartoon with cat that looks remarkably like Panda from here

Friday, 14 February 2014

a culture shock: vietnam, russia and the usa

Those two words have been buzzing around my head a lot lately. Firstly, because we’ve been watching this show by Luke Nguyen, an Aussie/ Vietnamese chef. There are dogs and black baby chickens and cobra hearts still beating in shot glasses. My WORD. The Hub and I just sit on the couch with eyes like bush babies thinking, what the hell have we done. Why didn’t we just go to England where the most exciting food is haggis and you have to travel 800 km North to find it in some obscure Scottish pub? Why Vietnam? We start to question our very fibre, why must we always operate so far out of our comfort zone? Why do we need to adventure all the time? Why can’t we just be normal? They eat PUPPIES. Deep is breathtakingly beautiful and we have booked through a reputable tour company with a Vietnamese English-speaking guide included. So if we are in any doubt as to whether that is pork or COBRA, he can translate or at least recognise the form of protein. My shattered sensibilities. I don’t even eat COWS for goodness sake. Vietnamese culture shock…coming April 2014.

Then to add insult to injury, two of my cousins are doing a year in Russia and I’ve been catching up on the blog their friend has started. Brave, brave girls. It’s called Adventurous Matryoshka (I know. I’ve linked it here for you, don’t even try and spell that in your Google search box. I got some beauties – all blocked by my browser security). Matryoshka are Russian nesting dolls but that doesn’t sound half as cool. These 20 somethings are tutoring the rich and famous of Moscow and surrounds by the sounds of it. Alison writes so well you must take a look. Anyway, this all brought back the times when I felt most culture shocked. The freaky old gypsy ladies in Italy, the public toilets in Germany and Austria, the nerve jangling ride up the gondola in Lucerne, the cold in England over Christmas…and mostly the US. I did a ski season there a few years ago, and I would rather have to beat off 1000 Italian gypsies with a stick than deal with that culture shock ever again. The food, the noise, the accents, the cold, the EXPENSE. And I was a mere 21 years old. And this was AFTER I’d travelled the UK and Europe and Contiki’d myself into oblivion at age 19. It was such a different world to me, I spent the first 2 months in a state of constant homesickness. What made it worse I think, was that we worked with lots of South Americans, most of whom were divine and sweet and kind. But the Brazilians. Mi palabra! They were just plain scary. My Argentinian friend, Nati, told me that because Brazilians are the only ones in South America to speak Portuguese they consider themselves superior. And because we hung out with the Chileans and Argentinians that made us inferior by association. Never mind we couldn’t speak or understand a word of Spanish OR Portuguese. We sucked. A whole lot.

I got the but you’re not black thing I think most of us get in the US (and Russia from Alison’s blog descriptions). They looked at me as if I had fallen out of the sky when I pronounced tomato correctly and not as tomayto. Or basil correctly and not as baysil. I have a degree in finance you idiots, I wanted to scream. My grandmother was born in England you idiots, I wanted to scream. You realise you speak the English language created in ENGLAND you idiots, I wanted to scream. But I needed their green and shiny American dollars to fund my Vegas/DC/NYC trip after my work contract ended so I kept that to myself. The people I loved most in America where the South Americans. How is that for ironic. Once I had travelled a bit more, out of the back end of Colorado; and we shall not mention the obese, tracksuit wearing, cocktail-funnel toting hillbillies in Vegas; I saw that the US is full of intelligent, worldly folk. Who lecture you about apartheid and why you should feel guilty because have you not heard about the slave trade? That one got my blood pressure up. Travelling the US was an experience I would love to repeat. With the Hub, with an extra 50 grand. Fortunately at the time it was worth it for the ski pass. I got home and dug up some photos of my time in the US of A. How I have aged.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

{of an electrical device} disconnected

I got home from work at a reasonable hour, unpacked my empty lunch containers and fed the cats. I switched on the TV, it was Grey’s I think, and waited for my brain to shut off. And waited. And waited. And watched an episode of Top Gear. And waited. And said hello to the Hub as he got home from the gym, and drank some water because maybe I was dehydrated. And got really irritable with the Hub. And waited. The buzzing just got louder and louder until I could barely speak or see.

Maybe it’s the TV I thought, so went to lie down on my bed and look at the giant tree outside our window. I admired the vantage point from our room. Because the plot isn’t level we look over our pool and the nest of huge palms at some height. I watched a red and navy lourie squawk between hops around that truly ugly tree where the Great Dane’s always peer over the wall. And the buzzing continued. I badly needed to unplug.

Unplugged has become more than a cool word for guys with acoustic guitars playing in dinge bars (check out Bastille at the Pompeii Exhibition – if you are not blown away…well then there’s something wrong with you and you should have that seen to). Unplugged now means, according to our friends at Google, (of an electrical device) disconnected.

Don’t you sometimes FEEL like an electric device? All jittery and tingly with nervous energy; plugged into the socket of the world on an endless white plastic adapter. I felt like that yesterday, after spending 5 hours in an over-cooled board room whizzing numbers and strategies around my brain with one 10 minute break. I couldn’t switch it off.  I’ve read plenty of advice about unplugging because I know people like me who spend hours in front of a laptop or on my phone are most at risk of the associated burn out. I’ve read that you should leave your phone off at night, and not look at it first thing and last thing. I’ve read that walking around the garden, being surrounded by the green quiet of nature should help. I’ve read that you should get up from your desk every 15 minutes and focus your eyes on the far wall. None of it works. I work too hard. I try too hard. I need to feel connected to feel alive these days. I often feel like a frightened rabbit in the headlights of a small truck, barreling towards me but with no power to move. I have to see that next Instagram photo, what if Miss X has had her baby? I'd better check Facebook IMMEDIATELY. What if, God forbid, I miss out? We are all so connected that we live in a state of permanent FOMO. There is so much out there, happening all the time, we are bound to miss out. Twitter and buzzfeed fads last a few hours. And in that time millions of humans globally have caught on. And if you miss it, it's down right embarrasing to tweet and ask uhhh...I missed that? No wonder we feel like rabbits in front of trucks. It's all glittery and sparkly and deliciously connected. And we don't have to put ourselves out there, make verbal conversation or see the look on someone's face when we rant about them. Anonymously of course. We all know the proverbial "I hate it when PEOPLE...". I think a smartphone detox is in order. Either that or I need to become a botanist.

// Funny card from Emily McDowell Draws via Cup of Jo

Friday, 7 February 2014

some life hacks

Study. Something, anything. A tertiary education will help you when times are tough. It’s something to lean on when your pub/Etsy shop/grooming parlour is on the rocks. 

Ignore negative people. You know who they are. What they say is tainted, don’t let it influence you. 

Buy organic cosmetics. Especially deodorant. Those chemicals are so close to your lymphatic system under your arms, and that’s NOT good for the potential big C.

Travel. Even if it's just to the next town. You never who or what you may find there. If you can, go abroad. A different culture will make you appreciate your home like you never imagined.

Buy an organic shampoo. It will change your life and get rid of your bad hair days. It might take two months of icky, frizzy hair while it sheds the silicone present in most over-the-counter shampoos, but it’s worth it. My delicious smelling Rosemary and Vanilla even got rid of my stress-induced scalp flakage. Ick. 

Get a PVR, else don’t bother watching TV. Watch Masterchef if you like food, but never when you’re hungry. It will make you HUNGRY regardless. 

Use less water; put that tap off while you’re brushing your teeth. They say future wars will not be about land, but water you know. 

Eat less animal based protein. Cows are lovely tasting things I’m sure but they are a burden on natural resources. Their farts burn up the ozone layer, haven’t you heard? 

Don’t listen to fad diets. 

Always have something to look forward to. Even if it's just getting home and telling your husband/roommate something funny about one of your work colleagues.

Use home remedies. But only the ones that work. Like raw oats and raw honey in warm water as a face mask. It works a charm and won't coat your precious face in chemicals.

Don’t make decisions when you’re tired. 

Don’t fight with people when you’re tired (if you can gather up the energy). 

Don’t assume your life is crap when you’re tired. 

Wait until tomorrow, go to bed early, drag yourself to the gym, eat a healthy supper, read a good book, and then decide if you still hate your life. I had one of those days today. It’s ONLY Wednesday. I've got to the point where looking at my bank balance is worthy of tears, and I feel like I weigh 100kg’s. Everyone has a better life than me. Everyone has a better body/family/
career/bank balance/pantry than me. Sometimes I need to write so badly (through ALL OF THE SPREADSHEETS) that I feel like I’m going to explode. But there is never any TIME. Making money is time-consuming people. But you don't need me to tell you that.

// Photograph of a Turkish teacup by Sarah Duff

Monday, 3 February 2014

dear husband

I know I’m difficult. Somehow God knew I needed someone who was far easier than me. Someone who doesn’t sit still and someone who doesn’t stew over things. Someone who goes out and gets it DONE. Someone is not afraid to phone the plumber/Thai takeaway/travel agent/Multichoice.

When I ask you to pretty please make me some tea and you do, just because I’m right in the middle of this Mystery Box challenge on Masterchef and plus tea tastes better when it’s made for you. And then I open my dark eyes very wide, because I know you love them. I know this because you tell me every time I say I hope our babies one day have your blue eyes. Brown is so boring. And you say, but I love your brown eyes. They are so wide and you have long eyelashes. Like a cow. And we both laugh, because actually I love cows so much that I refuse to eat them. So much that I cry and look away when we see all the poor mooks in a truck on the way to the abattoir. Thank you for always making the bed in the morning. Just because once, ONCE, I said it would be nice if you could seeing as I make the salads for lunch for us most mornings. And I didn’t say it in a way that expected you actually would. I was being a bit of a meanie that day. When I said, a week into our marriage, that I want a furry kid or two, you even helped me search for a mate for Howie. Even though you weren’t sure you wanted a slobbery, medium sized, slightly effeminate looking breed. And you found Coco. And now Coco is your little shadow. She helps you build furniture in your workshop, and she sniffs out all the geckos in the pool pump when you are backwashing the pool. She does this because she knows you love her. That you will pick up her up when a Rottie comes too close at the dog park. Even though you know it makes you look a little sad, picking up a 10kg Cocker Spaniel. You don't judge me for those thirty minutes of quiet that I need when I get home from work. You wordlessly hand me the wine. Thank you for knowing when I'm just being hormonal and for diffusing that particular ticking bomb. For knowing when to tell me, quietly, that perhaps the world will continue rotating on it's axis despite me not being able to find that purple top that goes so well with that black skirt. Honestly. Even when I say "do you not know it is the END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT". That purple top is my lucky charm for scary directors' meetings. How can you not know that? You download Adele and other music that's not really your style off iTunes because I chose an Android phone. And I don't really know how it works yet. Despite the cute purple cover. Which reminds me...where is that purple top? Sibongile? 
Where IS IT?

{Sibongile is our long-suffering, wonderful and makes-your-home-look-like-a-hotel housekeeper.}

// Image of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall from here

Thursday, 30 January 2014

the wolf of wall street and why I didn’t become a banker

"On Wall Street, when you're not creating anything, when you're not building anything, when you're making money buying and selling the ingenuity of other people, it's almost like there's something missing from the money," he says.
So you start searching for something else, spending recklessly, because you're desperate to attach something to the intangible money."
"And you spend obscene amounts to buy things that are tangible."
"Not just jets and mansions and fancy cars, I had five Ferraris, but objects, or people, that can turn your volume of money into something unique."

My brother is well on his way to becoming a banker. I haven’t told you about him. He’s called James and he’s 26. He lives in That Awful City (sorry Joburgers) and dislikes it almost as much as I did. Once a coastal baby, always a coastal baby. He is fundamentally different from me in every conceivable way. He likes gaming, he likes eating animals, he has never set foot in a church. He’s had one or two longer-term girlfriends, but is definitely not a serial monogamist. Oh and he’s single my pretty ladies, and I’m looking for a sweet sister-in-law. James likes all the techie, boychie jargon that comes with banking: go long, go short, derivative, hedge fund, butterfly spread, bull, bear, risk, return, CRN. Ok that last one I made up, but I know there is something called a Credit Denominated Upside Down Note. Or something like that. Bankers use them to confuse us. And I don’t like to be confused. There was a brief 6 month period at the beginning of my working life where I was heading for bankerdom. I had the suit, the sunglasses, the degree. Then I worked for this Romanian chick. Oh my word. She had a mustache and she smoked the South African equivalent of Gauloises. She was terrifying. And I decided I was too soft and sweet to be a banker. I like solid things. So now I help people make fast-moving consumer goods for a living. Google it: F M C G. When you go into a shop, a tiny part of what I do is in that carton you see on the shelf. I love that. It’s real.

Back to banking. The Hub and I went on a date on Saturday night. It was wonderful. We ate Thai food and went to watch The Wolf of Wall Street at the movies. It is a loooooong movie. It’s a debaucherous movie. Don’t you dare watch it with your mom. We got home at midnight. But it got me thinking about the banking world and why I’m happy I didn't get sucked into it. The movie is based on the life of Jordan Belfort, a banker who made a killing in the early 90’s selling cheap (mostly worthless) shares to unsuspecting folk. He could talk his way out of a paper bag. He also went to jail for 22 months for said dealings. As he said in the quote above, the world he inhabited (a world that still exists, I have seen high flying bankers chasing the white dragon in our very own Joburg) was an empty one. No real money, no real businesses backing those shares, no real relationships or real love. And finally I understood why, despite much opposition from colleagues and friends, I couldn't be a banker. It meant less money, less STARDOM, but I needed something tangible to keep me from chasing the tangible in my personal life like he did. I’m not an essentially bad person, but I am an extreme person, a TOO MUCH person. I need to make choices that prevent me from hurting myself. Choosing not to be a banker was one of those. I do like to think I wouldn't have landed up in jail, but you never know.

Monday, 27 January 2014

listen and love stacey kent

I first discovered Stacey Kent at a friend's braai. Said friend is a plastic surgeon my dear, he is sophisticated and kind and has the biggest TV I've ever seen. I would never have discovered this kind of music on my own. I'm from East London for goodness sake. Listening to the music of Stacey Kent calms me and romances me and makes me feel more sophisticated than I ever will be. Her style of music is described as jazz, but it's way more than that, especially the songs she sings in French. They describe her as:

"...a revelation. There is nobody singing today who can compare with her. She has the style of the greats, like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. And she sings the words like Nat Cole - clean, clear and almost conversational with perfect phrasing. And that's as good as it gets."

You can download Raconte Moi (French only) and The Changing Lights (English/mixed) on iTunes. Do it. Do it now. Your shattered nerves will thank you.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

who said Durbs isn’t cool?

Wasn't me. Ok…it was. 

Before we moved here I had been to Durban maybe three times. And mostly to Ballito or to visit my in-laws on the North Coast. Those don’t really count as visiting Durbs the city. When we moved down from Jozi I assumed it would be all surfing and settling down in the burbs with a jungle garden and stifling humidity. I was happy with that. Hell, it wasn't Joburg and I was more than ready to burb it up a little. Before Joburg I lived in Cape Town for 5 years, so I’d always assumed that making Durbs my final settling place was well…settling a little. But I would do it for my hubby. And I grew up 600km down the coast in a much smaller city so I was well prepared right? 

All of those things were true: it’s hot as hades in midsummer, my garden is a jungle (because all the pretty flowers are EATEN by HUMONGOUS BUGS) and I live in the burbs. My hubby surfs before work. But I was also completely wrong. Durbs is not settling at all. Cape Town is trendy and cosmopolitan and wonderful. In summer. The winters are dreadful. I couldn't bear it. I had SAD, I swear. Joburg is trendy and money and…bearable with all of the money. (Sorry guys, I hated it. I’m sure you love it and I respect that.) Durbs, surprisingly, is also trendy. And warm and wonderful. All year round. I don’t just mean the weather either; the people are warm too. I've met the most amazing people in this city, and while she tends to get the bronze medal in South Africa, I've come to love Durbs as the best. And I've done all three now, so I get to say that. Here are some of my favourite places.

Lupa Osteria {Hillcrest}

Cafe 1999 {Musgrave}

Bean Green Cafe {Glenwood} 
oh and you have to go antique shopping in the two stores next door. They also sell Bean Green coffee at the Durban Surf Lifesaving Club's cafe upstairs.

Mooki Noodles {Berea}

i heart market on a sunny Saturday morning…make sure to say hello to my friends from Oak and Willow at their stall {next to Moses Mabida stadium}

The Lighthouse Bar at the Oyster Box Hotel {Umhlanga}
The views are beautiful and the cocktails strong. I have been known to toddle precariously down the marble stairs on the way out after one or three Tanqueray Mojitos. You have been warned.

Running, cycling, swimming in the sea, walking anywhere along the promenade from Ushaka to Blue Lagoon is safe, gorgeous and clean. Expect to see Durbanites from all walks of life, from meandering Indian aunties to yummy mummies on roller blades. My favourite is a quick run with my dogs at dawn. If you aren't a morning person, have brunch at Circus Circus and watch the world go by. {first picture above is at North Beach, 6am}

If you are ever in Durban and need any recommendations for places to stay // where to eat //what to see // feel free to pop me an email or check out this lovely lady's blog Durban Diva for local tips

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

iMfolozi - an anniversary adventure

Have you ever heard the term: stop the world I want to get off? Well it's only January and this last week has been nuts. We had a big deadline for this Monday, boring finance stuff to do with budgets and month-end packs, and so the pressure was on. Regardless, Nicky and I took last Monday off to celebrate our 2nd anniversary in the bush over a long weekend. Mid January is NOT an ideal time for an anniversary, but the way I see it this just means you have to really want to make the effort to celebrate right? It was wonderful. I can't believe we've never been to the reserve before, it's about a 3 hour drive away and is run by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (so basically subsidised by the government and thus not hideously expensive). It used to be two separate reserves, but is now 960 square km called Hluhluwe-iMofolozi Game Reserve. On advice from a work colleague we stayed in one of the safari tents at Mpila - the non-fenced of the two camps in the reserve. The other, Hilltop, didn't look too fenced to me though (does a diagonal electric fence one meter from the ground protect you from leaping lion or rampaging rhino? I doubt it). Here are some pictures from our wonderful weekend.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

mason jar some memories

I've always been a collector of memories, I have boxes and boxes labeled as such. I'm sure my brain has a large compartment with videos of Transkei beach walks and school prize givings and weddings and exams and all the things that have made up my short life. When I saw this idea on Pinterest at the beginning of last year, I knew it was the perfect thing to try. Life goes so quickly, and I want to remember EVERYTHING.

It's quite easy: you take a recycled mason jar, slap on some chalkboard paint and a lid, and start post-itting all your happy memories of the year. Or, who am I kidding, you buy a jar like this one at Pick n Pay for 40 bucks and haul out some old scraps of paper and try to remember to scribble. You are not allowed to peep until the year is over. On the 2nd of Jan, the Hub and I spent a surprising hour or so opening all the scraps of paper in our 2013 jar. It was wonderful, you won't believe how many happy little weekends away or even sunshiney trips to the beach with the pups we had forgotten. And now it's all there, safely tucked away in a jar, for 30 years time when we are old and decrepit and want to reminisce about that year when all the grannies died, before we had kiddies, when life was simpler. Try it.