Monthly Archives: February 2013

Early retirement

bowls

Soon the Mister and I will be moving into a retirement village. And by soon I don’t mean that time’s flying and it feels like any day now we’ll be retired and looking to spend our post-work years playing bowls and bingo. No, what I mean is, in the next few months we may actually be moving into a retirement village to live with my mother-in-law.

Let me take this opportunity to tell you a little about my mother-in-law (MIL). MIL has the Wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job and Job’s entire extended family. I’ve witnessed these qualities first-hand on a number of occasions, mostly involving a seven-and-a-half month-old grandchild who won’t sleep, but the very first time I was made aware of their depth was on my honeymoon.
Not many people have the opportunity to spend their honeymoon with their mother-in-law. In fact, most people in their right mind wouldn’t want to spend their first few days as a married couple with any of their family. However, having been initiated a long time ago into the strange rituals and customs of the Mister’s family, very little surprises me anymore. From stories of exciting and oddball ancestors, like Aunt Happy the entertainer, to the great grandfather of illegitimate children who owned a large portion of a prestigious and well-known Cape Town suburb. Eccentricity and outlandish behaviour has become the norm for me, so why would spending time with MIL on our honeymoon be strange?

It can’t have been easy sharing a holiday house with a very excitable toddler and an Italian extended family. Just getting up in the morning and trying to arrange an outing to suit the tastes of six outspoken and exceptionally volatile adults and a spirited and emotional little girl takes the acumen, endurance, serenity and diplomacy that even the most hardened hostage negotiator would envy. However, MIL ‘s fortitude prevailed and the improbable little group of tourists were given a tour of Cape Town and it’s surrounds most tour guides would find hard put to match.

Cape Town

So back to our moving in with MIL: our house is going on the market in a few days and may sell quite quickly. If that happens we’ll need somewhere to live. And that’s why we’ll be testing the retirement village waters 20 to 30 years before we’re actually eligible to be moving into one. And I’m not complaining, in fact I’m really excited by the prospect of living with a mom again. How lovely to come home from work, kick off my shoes and go lie in front of the telly for an hour or two before I’m called to dinner. It’ll be just like being back at school again with someone looking after me.

And this moving back in with mom, or in our case mom and MIL, seems to be a new trend. For various reasons lots of people seem to be doing it. Whether it’s because the economy has dictated it, people are looking for new work, or as it would be in our case, you’re between houses, the home of the parents seems to offer the sanctuary it always has. Take a read in the March issue of Essentials magazine about others who’ve had to move back in with their parents and then drop us a comment if you’ve had a similar experience. And have a look at the Essentials website for more interesting reads www.essentials.co.za.

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Birthday bizarre

balloons

A few days ago we celebrated Caryn, our fashion editor’s birthday and with this being a new blog and March being my birth month, I’ve been thinking a lot about birthdays. Particularly mine. I’ve always believed that my birthday is the most important day of the year and fully expect others to see it as such too. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because I have an overblown sense of importance but rather because I get so unbelievably excited about my birthday that I want everyone to feel as happy as I do. I still count the sleeps until my birthday from at least a month before the big day and I start right after Christmas with the, ‘You can get me those shoes/that car/pink fluffy things/those earrings/an orang-utan for my birthday’ to my long-suffering and patient Mister. Bless him – I used to wake him in the middle of the night and demand, drill sergeant-style, ‘When’s my birthday, Mister?’ This may have been a cruel and unusual method of getting him to memorise my birthday, but it worked – he’s never forgotten it! So there’s a top tip for you: If your own Mister has the tendency to forget your birthday you might want to try this tactic. It’ll work for memorising shopping lists and anniversary dates too.

I’ve been trying to decide how I should celebrate my birthday this year, 33 being a weird in-between kind of number that’s neither here nor there, and I’ve been struggling to find something that really excites me. Because I still believe myself to be 17, there’s the part of me that really wants to cake on the make-up, get tarted up and put on my dancing shoes to go clubbing. But then, when I start thinking about the logistics of a babysitter (not too many 17-year-olds have to worry about that), a designated driver, that my dancing shoes are actually quite uncomfortable and will pinch my toes, what to wear and the crucial afternoon nap before the big night out, I get really tired and just feel like lying down.

Tent

So, clubbing it won’t be, but how about a weekend away with friends? I began thinking about possible travel destinations and how to accommodate the incongruous tastes of all the friends. I know my husband is quite fond of rubbing a couple of sticks together and playing with fire, what man isn’t, so he’d quite enjoy eating straight out of a tin of baked beans while camping. But there are the friends who refuse to roll off an air-mattress onto the floor, pick leaves and insect bodies out of their hair and begin the day with a spring in their step. They require a comfy bed, crisp white linen and a hot bath to get a spring in their anything, so camping is out of the question. There are the friends who’d like a sophisticated hotel, with lie-ins in the mornings, fabulous high teas in the afternoon and elegant dining experiences in the evening. Think Sex in the City meets the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

And then there’s me, with a seven month old baby. The words sophisticated and elegant no longer feature in my vocabulary (having been replaced with ‘milestone’ and ‘smelly nappy’) and probably won’t for at least the next 19 years. Right now, with an average sleep count of approximating 4,34 hours per night, an ideal holiday destination for me would be a lumpy couch. Or a yoga mat on the floor. Or even a towel under the tree in my garden. You see, my standards for holiday destinations at this point are not very high, so I’ll be really easy to please.

If you’re also looking for a great place to get away from whatever for a little while, somewhere that doesn’t feature the aforementioned lumpy couch, the March issue of Essentials has some great travel destinations for you to peruse while you soak away your worries in a hot bath with a glass of wine. There’s a beach holiday, a country stay or a couple of bush breaks to choose from. Whatever floats your boat down a meandering river, or blows your hair back on a hike, you’ll find it in the March issue.

February resurrection

So, Valentine’s Day has come and gone, the chocolates have been smashed like a box of Lindt after Fashion Week, the flowers are gently wilting and wrinkling, dinner is a mere hazy memory and the stuffed teddies are starting to look a little creepy and out of place on your bed. But before we move on completely I thought I’d fill you in on how things went on my double cheese burger of a Valentine’s Day.

I presented my husband with his Valentine’s gift first thing in the morning as he was pulling on his socks (admittedly not the most romantic of moments): a key to my love decorated with little glass roses and hearts, accompanied by a home-made card with a delightful pic I’d downloaded off the internet. He got me… nothing. Apparently he hadn’t had an opportunity to blah, blah, blah. To be fair I did get a present from him when he got home that afternoon but my feelings regarding the gift were bitter-sweet: he seemed to have missed the cheesy brief entirely and what I received was a beautiful framed photograph of the Mister and my gorgeous baby.

My home-made Valentine's Day card

My home-made Valentine’s Day card

Valentine’s dinner was absolutely perfect in every way. The First Sighting Savignaugn Blanc was ice-cold and dry and delicious. The main course of truffle mushroom Wellington was the tastiest thing my tongue has ever had the joy of meeting. And the dessert, the oh-so-beautiful dessert, of chocolate fondue was moreish and delectable and I just died eating it. If you’re looking for a special place with amazing food I highly recommend Licorish Bistro at Nicolway shopping Centre in Bryanston. Have a look at their menu and get their contact details at www.licorish.co.za.

If you’re feeling a little down in the wake of the chocolate and red-lace lingerie binge and are looking for something exciting to perk you up again, there are some exciting things coming up. According to Professor Jacques Snyman, clinical advisor for Resolution Health Medical Scheme, there are a number of important health benefits to being in love, like making you look younger and making you live longer. So add some years to your life and a little spark to your relationship by going on an outing with your lurve to one of these fab events.

If you’re going to be in the Cape Town area on Saturday 23 February, why not pop into the Hartenberg Wine Estate for an evening of Tapas and Jazz with the popular band Manouche. Tapas and wine (without a doubt), will be served. For more info, visit hartenbergestate.com.

Bodyworlds

Bodyworlds

And if you’re in Johannesburg, Body Worlds and the Cycle of Life is coming to Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown from 20 March – 30 June. It’s the first anatomical exhibition of its kind to display real human bodies and offers visitors an unforgettable peek under the skin to experience just how amazing our bodies truly are.

If you’re looking a little further into the future, Andre the Hypnotist will be bringing his hilarious show to the Grand West Roxy Revue Bar from Friday 12 April 2013 to Saturday 4 May 2013, from Wednesday to Saturday.

So while you’re working a little harder at the gym to remove those few extra kilos you managed to put on around Valentine’s Day with the ‘it’s for Valentine’s Day’ chocolate-and-dessert-scoffing excuses, remember that there are still fun things to do that don’t involve punishing yourself with a squat or treadmill.

Essentials newsletter

Why not subscribe to our fab monthly Essentials magazine newsletter? This month we’re talking about spicing things up with chocolate, red-hot fashion, dating again after a break-up, keeping a relationship hot and more.

Essentials magazine newsletter

Essentials magazine newsletter

To sign up, visit http://bit.ly/QUYcqw.

Valentine’s Day Renovation

heartsValentine’s Day is creeping up on us like those sneaky extra kilos that just appear as little dimples on your thighs when you forget to pay attention to them. That’s if you’re currently between relationship partners. If you find yourself in love, are being followed around by twittering bluebirds and a little choir of fat singing cherubs, then Valentine’s Day is wafting towards you like a cloud of salted caramel-flavoured candy floss. Any way you look at it, Valentine’s Day is just down the street at the local café sipping patiently on a Freezachino.

Now if you’re anything like me when I’m at my most cynical, you see Valentine’s Day as a marketing and money-making ploy that gives shops the opportunity to sell flaccid roses and cheesy heart-shaped chocolates at three times their normal price. And it gives restaurants the chance to add 37 more tables to their establishments, hike up their prices by 70% and serve lukewarm semi-congealed gravy-covered meat. As you’ve probably gathered, my Mister and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Until this year.

This year I’m turning over a new rose leaf and we’re going to get into the spirit of Valentine’s Day along with all the manufacturers of little red teddies and the guys at the robots selling over-stuffed satin hearts. We’re going to buy each other dodgy little presents ( no chocolates please – we’re both on a diet), spend too much money on mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards featuring fluffy little kittens proclaiming our ever-lasting and undying love for one another, and we’re going out to dinner. This year we’ll be romantic if it kills us!

Why the sudden change of heart (I really do apologise for the pun – it was definitely not intentional)? The reasons are two-fold: firstly, we have a seven-month old baby whom we love dearly but we haven’t been out without her in, oh about seven months (16 months if you count the time I was pregnant with her and wasn’t allowed to drink wine or eat Brie cheese). So we definitely could do with some romantic husband-and-wife time and leave mommy and daddy at home. Secondly, the Mister and I have been together for 16 years this year and married for 10. In my book that’s a feat well worth celebrating. And if we don’t celebrate our not having left each other, then who will?

Mister and Holly

Mister and Holly

So we’re going full-on cheese with the hearts, candles, flowers and restaurant. But your Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a main course of Cheddar with a side-order of Pecorino: you can do it ‘classy-like’ too, or just differently. I’ve seen some really interesting gifts for Valentine’s Day: fancy computer mice for the digitally-interested, fabulous bottles of wine and gorgeous handbags. And if you need some Valentine’s Day inspiration, have a peek at our newsletter for this month and at the Essentials magazine website. Whatever you decide for this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re spending it with a partner, friends or alone, take some time to celebrate it, in all it’s delicious cheesiness.

hearts