A Walk On The Wild Side

I’m back at work. Which means I’m desperately trying to find my new normal, whilst nonchalantly dressing up my fat jeans and re-learning how to wear a bra that doesn’t have boob flaps in them. To celebrate my last weekend of dedicated motherhood, I did a very un-motherhood thing and went away. This then meant that Carter had his first sleepover, and of course it also meant that my little treasure slept a solid 13 hours. Typical.

Before you start judging and throwing hypothetical rotten tomatoes in my face, please understand that I needed to get away. Because what’s a grief stricken almost-back-to-work mom to do? Drive three hours out of Joburg and drink her body weight in wine, that’s what.

The fabulous folk at the Protea Hotel ‘Ranch’ in Polokwane kindly hosted us for one of their ‘Chefs Tables’. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (I mean, Polokwane??) but reality far exceeded my expectations. The Ranch Hotel is situated on a private game reserve just 25kms south of the Limpopo’s capital city, and from the second you drive in through the gates you feel relaxed. It’s very seldom that the drive up to a hotel reception includes roaming Blesbok instead of bellboys. I already knew that this place was going to be special.

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We arrived, unpacked, jumped on the beds (kidding. KIDDING) drank a sherry and made our way to the bar for a pre-dinner drink. I told you, we were wine serious that night. The resort is magical, and I’ve already book-marked it for my next annual girls holiday.

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The dinner, and the main reason for our trip, blew my mind. Hosted and created by ‘Chef Dan’ the food, ambiance and company was superb from start to finish. I loved how we were an intimate table of 10; we were joined by local media, tourism members and a few journalists from Joburg as well as the owner and marketing manager of The Ranch.

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I judge a good meal on the creativity of the vegetarian option (Lord, let me never see another carrot in phyllo pastry again) and Chef Dan and his team quelled my fears with each course.

Our food ranged from Salmon Tartar Blinis, to Gorgonzola Gnocchi, Beef Fillet Bordelaise and mouth-watering king prawns. Dessert was a South African take on a British tea – Rooibos pannecotta and honey gel cubes. Each course was served with a wine, and we drank everything from Champagne to Merlot to Petit Rouge. Not kak.

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Full and happy we stumbled back to the bar for a nightcap (I really cannot emphasise the seriousness of my task here friends). There we sat and chatted about the resorts history and got to know our fellow diners a little bit more.

The next morning we were up at sparrows poep to go and walk with the lions (No, not the rugby team, although some might argue that’s the fastest they’ll ever get. Yes, that’s a thing you can actually do there – and no, apparently sleeping in even when childless is not an option). Sadly, the rain was bucketing down so we we had to ‘paws’ (weak, I know, but this mum dumb brain is lingering) the lion walk. I’m seriously hoping to crack another nod to go back and experience the walk another time.

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All round a fantastic way to wrap up the last 4 months of maternity leave. Although, at the rate I’m going, these work fat pants may be here to stay.

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How to grocery shop with a baby (and other handy hints)

Yesterday I started a baby massage class. I was disappointed to find out that it would be me massaging my baby, and not the other way round. Surely I deserve a little bit of deep tissue love? It should be payback for never having any time for myself.

Carter’s going through a growth spurt (well, that’s what the books say, as apparently ‘possessed by demons’ isn’t appropriate). This means that my days of having 3 hours in between feeds while he napped and I leisurely applied makeup, showered or pumped boobs are over – atleast for the next few days. Just yesterday I ate an omelette with my hands, like a sandwich.

I have the deepest amount of respect and sympathy for moms who have had niggly babies from day 1. It’s tough – you love them more than wine, but it’s near impossible to do anything if they don’t let you put them down for even a second. Short of drugging them, the only thing to do is wait for hubby to get home from work or wait for the growth spurt to be over.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a few handy shortcuts to motherhood that I heave learnt in the last 5 weeks.

Venturing out. When leaving the house for any reason at all, make sure you are always in gym clothes and are slightly disheveled. (Moms, I hear you laughing ‘cos how ELSE does one go out with a new born, right?). The reason for this, and no, it’s not to actually Go to gym, silly, is so should you bump into anyone you know, or even don’t know, they will automatically assume you’ve come from a 90 minute spin class, and will immediately think you Wonder Woman for exercising while looking after a baby. Extra points for smudged or no makeup and vomit on your top (people will just assume it’s  protein shake).

Cooking. When making anything, anything at all, make sure you make enough to feed a soup kitchen. Then freeze the leftovers and re-heat for breakfast, lunch and dinner the following week. Your husband will grow to love tofu noodles, promise.

Exercise. IF you ever get the inkling to actually do anything of the aerobic nature, then having a goal is key. And by goal I mean a fancy cappuccino or blueberry muffin. I like to take brisk walks to the local Seattle down the road and reward myself with a grande latte and a cheese sandwich. You may not ever lose weight, but it’s a lot more rewarding than going to the gym.

Wine. Is very important. I am not ashamed to admit that I now buy wine in boxes as its a lot easier to pour when you only have 1 hand. Just be careful you don’t drop the glass. I mean the baby, don’t drop the baby.

Makeup and personal hygiene. Invest in a deodorant that promises 48 hour protection, and you’ve saved yourself a day. Sleep with waterproof makeup on, and wear the sports bra to bed that you plan on wearing the next day. That pretty much leaves brushing your teeth and tying your hair in a mom bun, and you’re good to go.

Grocery shopping. I made the fatal error of going to the mall when my baby was asleep in his pram. Taking full advantage of this I thought it was a magnificent time to buy all new wine glasses, drinking glasses, soup bowls and blankets for the house. This left me walking back to my car pushing a pram, a trolley of breakables, a nappy bag a handbag and a 6 pack of milk. School girl error. If you need to do a grocery shop then leave the baby in the very capable hands of another adult and go alone. Although I can’t promise that you won’t dash out for sesame seeds and nipple cream and come back with a thousand rands worth of Woolies goodies and a new lounge suite.

Oh, and before you think “but the bitch has time to blog” please note that baby is with granny and I’m writing from the comfort of the hairdressers chair, while holding a dog named Leo. As you do.

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10 Reasons To Celebrate International Coffee Day

There’s only one thing better than International wine day – which, like Woman’s day should happen every day of the year- and that’s Internationale Coffee Day…which happens to be today. 29 September.

To celebrate this delightful beverage, which is responsible for 50% of my personality on a daily basis, I thought I would share some fun coffee facts with you. So, grab a cuppa, sit down and enjoy.

Whoever made this sign is a liar. Where is Vodka and wine?

Coffee

1. Never trust anyone who doesn’t drink coffee. They probably kick small puppies and have severe road rage.

2. According to this legend, Coffee was first discovered by goats – after a farmer noticed his flock eating certain berries and battling to sleep at night – the farmer then gave the berries to an Abbot at the local Monastery who made a drink out of the beans, and found he became a lot more diligent in his after hour prayers…

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3. Need a caffeine boost? Opt for a regular filter coffee over an espresso – it has more caffeine in it.

4. In terms of countries with the biggest caffeine addiction – Finland comes out tops with an average of 12 litres per person per year (granted, its fucking cold) with Peurto Rico coming in last with an average consumption per person of 0.4 kilos of coffee. They must be too busy kidnapping drug mules to stop for a cuppa java.

5. If blooms are your thing, you will be pleased to know that coffee grounds can actively change the colour of Hyrangea flowers from pink to blue, as the coffee changes the alkalinity in the soil. Adding coffee grounds will reduce the pH level and give you bright blue flowers.

6. Coffee beans don’t start out that way. They start out as red berry looking things. The magic of coffee is in how its made. Thanks to the Internet for giving me this:

How Coffee Is Made

7. Medical research has deduced that coffee can help you live longer. My research has confirmed that it also extends the lifespan of a spouse…if they bring you coffee in bed, there is guaranteed to be less blood.

8. You can tell a lot about a person by the type of coffee they drink;

  • Espresso – Impatient. Will often exclaim how awake they are after downing said espresso. Will also sometimes call it an expresso.
  • Cappucino – A freelancer who works in a coffee shop. Enjoys licking milk froth off a spoon
  • Americano – A classic coffee drinker. No bullshit.
  • Decaf – Pregnant or lives in Minnesota.
  • Latte – Hates the taste of coffee, pretends to enjoy coffee by making sure their drink is 98% milk.
  • Riccoffy – A Dumbass.

9. Coffee beans are to the nose, what a sorbet palate cleanser is to your mouth. If you are ever testing a fragrance take a whiff of fresh coffee beans between sprays – it will clear your nose and allow your senses to settle between spritzes.

10. If you only drink coffee for one reason, make it because of this:

nespresso-clooney

Bottoms Up!

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It Was a Beer Drinking, Night Racing, Art Viewing, Wine Tasting, Fromage Gubbling, Soweto Viewing Kinda Weekend

I don’t often write about my weekend or what went down – but this was such an interesting one that I wanted to share. 

You may remember me giving away tickets to the Energizer Soweto Night race a few weeks back. Well, the event took place on Saturday and I’m so glad we braved the cold and distance to attend.

We took part in the 10 km ‘trail’ race – and although it started off really slowly due to the dark, the cold, the crowds and the extreme bottle necking – it was one of the best races I have ever taken part in. We decided from the start that we were going to take it super easy and just enjoy the sights and sounds – and I’m so glad we did. (It’s also the first race I’ve done where I had beers before the race…highly recommended!)

Soweto has a vibe like non other, and for the full 10kms we were surrounded by cheering fans, high-fiving kids, impromptu directional singers, smells, sights and sounds. A highlight for me was running next to Bruce Fordyce for several minutes, joking about how this would be the slowest race we had ever done. 

For anyone who has ever trail ran (runned? ron?) you will know how it’s courtesy of the person infront to signal and point if there’s an upcoming obstruction – such as “rock”, “ditch” “water”. You get the vibe right? Let me tell you, running through the dark streets of Soweto means the obstructions are somewhat different. Just a few I heard, and called out, were: “Pothole”, “Taxi”, “Dog”…”Toilet”. Only in Africa!

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On Sunday, to celebrate Mother’s Day and my Dad’s 60th we went to the Nirox Art and Wine Fair. Nirox has got to be one of my favourite places, and Nirox plus art plus wine is easily a winning combination.

My cousin Olivia is out visiting from The States on her FOUR MONTH Summer vay-cay, and she (along with Aunts, Uncles, friends and cousins) joined us for the day out.

Just lovely!

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Mom, Gran and Gill (Aunt)

 

 

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Kearney’s – We hate being in the spotlight. 

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I love this piece. It’s titled “Man after divorce” or something like that. 

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DIY – Study Table From Fuddy To Fab

We all have that room in or house – you know, the one that looks like the application photo for ‘Extreme Hoarders’. For us, that room is the study. For years friends and guests have been convinced that we lived in a 2 bedroom home, as the door was never opened and any mentioned of ‘Ooh whats in there?’ was met with a shove down the stairs for fear they actually dared to venture inside. 

Our study currently houses the following: Two wing-back chairs, all my crafts and wrapping paper, my canvases, paints and art supplies, all our luggage, my winter wardrobe and shoes, my handbags and extra sports gear, a chest of doors (9 of them) filled with sporting gear, a study table, 3 laptops, all our filing, all our books, 2 irons and an ironing board, linen, spare cushions and pillows and about 400 random cables and cords. 

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Kinda like this…

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Over December I tackled the study like a 150 kilogram rugby player. I ruthlessly chucked about 3/4 of its contents and cleaned the place out. Look, the room is still fuller than my belly after a beer fest, but at-least there’s space to swing a cat. 

I also took on a DIY project – our old study table was a revolting hand me down and I have always hated. I decided to make this a bit more of a fun room and give it some character. I managed to convince my folks to give me an old rotting dining room table they had been storing, and to let me restore it. 

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Step 1. Get table from parents house to my house (Tip – find a father with a 4×4 and trailer)

Step 2. Sand the thing down. (Tip, ask your husband to do this, or get a handheld electronic sander.) Apart from the numbness in your hands that follows for the next hour, it’s fairly therapeutic. ImageStep 3. Prime, prime prime. This table had been sitting outside for about a year and was drier than a Savannah ad by the time I started refurbishing it. I invested in a solid primer which had two purposes – to prevent the paint from ‘leaking’ through and being absorbed by the dry wood and to ensure the paint went on smoothly.

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Step 4. Wait 24 hours for the primer to dry. I find wine helps the time pass quite well. (Tip, if you live in a ‘miggie’* prone area like we do, then either do this job inside or accept that you will forever have fossilized insects stuck to your table)

Step 5. Paint. The trick here is to use an enamel based paint (to get that high gleamy shine). I asked the man at Builders Warehouse for ‘Stripper Red’ but ‘Fire Engine Red’ will also do the trick. (Tip, take off your wedding ring, unless you like the look of ‘blood diamond’)

Step 6. Get it into study. Not an easy feat – we eventually managed (after removing half our wall) to hoist it up over our upstairs bedroom balcony. It was worth it – we have a long way to go but our study is finally looking like a part of the house. Who knows, one day we may even leave the door open for guests to actually see!

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* For the sake of my 1 international reader, a miggie is a tiny flying insect – smaller than a mosquito or fruit fly. They favour wine glasses (preferable new, full and expensive Merlots) and fruit bowls. 

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Go Sober, Save A Life?

I have memories of being a little girl and falling asleep while my parents were conducting themselves in a rather uncivilised manner at some sort of dinner party. There would be loud music (I remember a lot of UB40), dancing on tables, bottles of wine (corked, not screw tops, I’m talking way back ) and my brother and I passed out on the couch or under a table depending on the situation. At the end of the night we would be bundled up, popped on the backseat and would wake up the next morning in our own beds. We always woke up in our own beds. Safe and sound. Understand, my parents are not bad people, and weren’t bad people back then, they were just doing what everyone back then did.

Does that mean it was OK to drink and drive then? Definitely not. They just didnt know any other way.

Ask your parents how ‘green’ they were back in the 80’s and I can guarantee that the answer was ‘not very’. Nowadays we follow those ‘Three Rs’ ilke the gospel and most of wouldn’t dream of just tossing a recyclyble item into the bin. It has become the norm to re-use and recycle as much as possible. Just ike recycling options have grown in the past decade, so have the alternatives for drinking and driving. Sadly, these options are pricey and often unreliable and force most of us to just take a chance after a night out.

Please don’t for one second think I am pointing fingers or preaching, I am guilty of having driven drunk many times and have always breathed a small sigh of relief upon reaching my destination safely. I am however a lot more conscious now and a several years back I swore against texting and drinking while driving because I could think of no bigger nightmare than being responsible for the injury or death of someone else, due to my actions. We are very fortunate in that my fiance’s company offers a cab solution to all of its staff free of charge. (Are you listening, corporates?)

So, what are our current options?

– Cab and taxi services such as GoodFellas and Roadtrip and becoming increasingly popular…and  increasingly expensive. With the cost of rising fuel prices it’s hitting us where it hurts most, our pockets.

– Inner city bus and train options are few and far between and not yet a viable option.

– Tuk-tuks are becoming fairly popular, yet these generally only run during working hours. I dont know about you, but when I need a cab the most it is definitely not on a Monday at 3 pm.

– Phone a friend. Always wise, yet something most of us never do for fear of inconveniencing that person.

Looking at the above options it’s easy for us to shrug our shoulders and say ‘well, then there’s nothing we can do, is there?’ but I think there is. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by some very smart people, be it in work environment or in my social circle and I believe that there is a solution out there, but I need your help.

We all know the death tolls on our roads are high (Research from Arrive Alive shows that drunk driving is one of the biggest threats to Road Safety in South Africa. Research indicates that 50% of people who die on the roads have a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres) yet even that isn’t enough to make us stop. So what is?

The frightening stats as displayed in this visual (courtesy of www.sadd.org.za)

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I’m not sure if you have noticed a shift in attitude towards your peers lately? I guess it’s called ‘growing up’ but I’ve noticed a trend towards a healthier lifestyle in Jozi. Several years ago we would spend our weekends boozing at the pub or hitting a club, then sleeping it off the next day. Nowadays my friends and I spend our time growing organic veggies (dont mock it ’till you’ve tried it) running, cycling, taking part in adventure races, camping (still undecided on that one) and just generally living healthier, fitter and happier.

Understand, I still drink wine by the gallon and believe a life without champagne is a life not lived, but I want to balance that with a life lived responsibly. I am never going to cut alcohol out of my life so what I’m proposing is a small change that could potentially make a huge difference.

“The dinner club with a twist” involves one person staying dry and sober for the night – and acting as a designated driver as well. In return, their dinner and drinks (alcohol free) are sponsored by the group – perhaps a Redbull thrown in the mix if you’re like my friend (I’ll call him Jim) who becomes a fun sponge when sober. This duty then gets rotated per group member for each outing. My advise – find a lot of friends to ensure you wont have to be Sober-Sandy every 3 weeks.

Another perk – drinking makes you fat! Think of this plan as a fitter physique one (If you’re anything like me then less love handles is always a strong motivator)

Jokes aside, the stats are scary. According to SADD the death toll of drunk driving has now risen to 12000 people, per year. I have lost a friend through drunk driving, and I’m sure you have too.

There are some things we cannot control, like taxes, in-laws and seasonal flu. Drinking and driving is something we can. Think responsibly  act responsibly and let’s all try to make a difference on our roads.

I would love to hear any ideas you may have for lowering drinking and driving stats. Please share them in the comments section.

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DIY for Party Planners

Ive had the honour (see what I did there?) of being a bridesmaid for several of my lovely friends – and one of the best things about that is knowing that with each bash comes new opportunities to make fun DIY items for the celebration.

I’ve put together large affairs and very intimate ones, and waned to share a few fun DIY craft tips, for anyone looking to throw a bit of a celebration for a bride to be. (Or any celebration really)

(Tip: If you aren’t Photoshop adept, find a designer fined like I did with my colleague Kim, big help!)

Make your own photo booth by pasting wallpaper or wrapping paper on a large flat wall. The one I used below was for a 1950’s inspired party hence the red polka dots. I borrowed the frame from an art gallery and bought props from China Town (budget!). I also supplied a chalk board and chalk for people to write their own messaging.(Board and props not pictured in the image).

DIY Backdrop
DIY Backdrop

For the same party we labelled the various cheeses with wedding themed names (Bridesmaids Brie, Garter Gouda… you get the picture). I also labelled all the wine glasses with fun sayings from the ’50s and the definition. This also helped with people knowing which glass belonged to them. 22 bottles of wine later however, no-one really cared.

Say Cheese!
Say Cheese!
Handmade Wine Labels
Handmade Wine Labels

If you are hosting a smaller gathering, instead of using name tags for the table use a photo of the (insert guest of honour) and all her guests, then prop these on the table using a frame or crocodile clips. What I did with these was add a section on the photo and asked each guest to write a message. The bride-to-be got to take these home as a momento from the night.

Personalised Place Cards
Personalised Place Cards

A fun idea if you are hosting a baby shower is to ask all the guests to bring a baby photo of themselves. The mom-to-be then needs to guess who is who. This can also be used for birthdays or bridal showers. If using it for a birthday – ask the guests to bring a photo of themselves at the age they have known the birthday girl for. She then needs to guess who is in the pic. Failure to do so results in a tequila fine (Really, my favourite party trick!)

Who's the baby?
Who’s the baby?

 

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Rupert approves, but what about Bella?

I’m the first person to roll my eyes when a new parent uploads a pic of baby’s poo to their Blackberry messenger profile, or when un-born fetuses start updating mommy’s Facebook status, so I realise me posting about my dogs may generate the same reaction from you. Sorry. The thing is, my blog was named after our first born dog Rupert, but since then we have also been blessed with a sister for Rup, Bella, and I figured she deserved some acknowledgment as well. I wont bore you with how unbelievably cute they are, how they light up my life, how I could kiss them all day or how I can’t imagine my life without them. Nah, I will just post adorable doggy pics and make you wish you had kids as cute as mine.

Interesting fact – both our dogs were named after wine (Rupert and Rothschild and Arabella). That means when I’m downing a glass or two of the good stuff, I’m actually just toasting my pets. Sneaky.

Is this bed an extra length? – R
-R
‘scuse me? – B

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A 1950’s affair!

Last weekend we hosted a rather unusual bachelorette for my bestie Amy. This was no ordinary bachelorette in that the amount of time it took for us to come up with an idea that wasn’t kitsch, cliched or (god forbid) club orientated was extraordinary. Amy has unique taste, and a style surpassed by none, so trust me, had we draped her in phallic objects and stuck a set of Playboy bunny ears on her head, we would have been fired form bridesmaids duty, and possibly never spoken to again. Thankfully I had a lightbulb moment (yes, it happens) and decided that a 1950s ‘un-perfect housewife’ theme would be fairly fitting for the bride-to-be. Thanks to Google, some talented designer friends, talented seamstress friends, talented ideas friends (you get the picture) a very patient boyfriend, some equally handy fellow bridesmaids and my skills with a tube of Pritt and some scissors, the day (and night) turned out to be a roaring success. Even Amy says so.Just ask her.

For the evening part of the event we all hopped into a taxi and went to a beautiful champagne bar and restaurant called ‘Amis’ (completely planned, of course!) With 19502 movies playing on the wall, gorgeous decor and a retro theme, it was just perfect. We ate too much, drank delicious bubbly and ended the day off on a perfect note.

Bring on the wedding!

Here are a few pics from the event, and some ideas if you’re ever planning a good old fashioned do.

Homemade party favours with a personalised poem made by Amys sister

I Googled ’50s images and strung them on ribbon with clothes pegs. Very effective!

Not everyone loved the photobooth props!

Again, I printed 50’s signs and glued them to skewer sticks, which I then placed all over the venue.

Red and white striped lollipops and 50’s slang wine glass tags. Amy got ‘Circled’ which back in the day meant ‘Getting Hitched’.

Thanks to some ingenious blogs I found these cool photo booth templates which I printed and cut out

Amy doing a ‘down down’ the old fashioned way

I found this amazing old school wedding photo which I used as cheese labels. My best was ‘Something old something new something borrowed something blue‘ Get it?

Completely co-incidental that Amy’s dress (made by our very talented friend Ilona) matched the photo booth backdrop. FYI I bought a huge roll of wrapping paper and simply stuck it to the wall to make the backdrop.

Aren’t these signs the cutest?

The Bridesmaids

All the guests signed a pottery bowl which we will glaze for Amy

My parents garden provided the perfect setting for a day of 1950s good ol’ fashioned fun!

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