Monthly Archives: April 2013

Put your best face forward


Our editor, Darren has just recently updated his profile picture to a photo that’s been taken for the magazine. It’s a really well-styled photo and looks very editory – as it should. This got me thinking about the photos we upload to Facebook and choose to share with the world. In particular, I started thinking about the profile pictures we use to represent ourselves and our personalities in this very public domain.

We don’t give a second thought to sharing with the world our very private moments with friends and family. It’s not like we’d willy-nilly put up photos of ourselves drinking with friends in a Jacuzzi on street poles or on bulletin boards at shopping malls. But we happily click away and slap them up on Facebook without a second thought. Maybe that’s because we get to select, very carefully, what we share with the rest of the world (usually and, if not, we can threaten to unfriend those who won’t remove the less-than-generous photos) – we can choose the persona we allow others to see. In fact, we can create the person we’d like others to believe we are.


And then there are the photos we have where we woke up in the morning feeling, and looking, a lot like P. Diddy – these are the pictures we don’t want others to see, and we don’t subject the universe to them via the Internet, for fear of malevolent reprisal. Such photos look somewhat like these:

Beauty editor, Tessa letting her guard down

Beauty editor, Tessa letting her guard down

Me enjoying my coffee and dancing – as you do

In some Native American cultures, people were wary of having their photos taken because they believed the process could steal their soul and that it disrespected the spirit world. I totally get that. Some photos that have been taken of me look like my soul has been stolen and that the spirit world, disrespected by me, is taking revenge.

So are the photos we put up on Facebook glamorous glimpses of who we’d like to be, as my Mister so eloquently put it? Do these profile pictures represent an aspirational us? And if so aren’t we misrepresenting ourselves to the world? I think of all my old school friends and acquaintances with who I’m now Facebook friends: are they actually the well-groomed, poised and beautiful specimens of humanity they purport to be, or do they in reality have faces like dropped pies?

Are we at risk of setting ourselves and others up for disappointment as we’ve come to expect and believe that this is what we look and behave like? My Mister’s Facebook pictures (mis)represent him as a wild party-animal, probably not dissimilar to how he was when he was 21 (a good couple of years ago). In fact, now he likes nothing more than to share a good bottle of Cab Sav with some friends around a braai. He’s not the beer-chugging, tequila-swilling wild man the photos make him look like (despite what his mother thinks).

Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

I had a look at the Facebook profiles of some my colleagues and came to the conclusion that their profile pics are a good representation of them … on a good day. Just like mine is a great representation of what a mediocre picture can look like with some great Instagraming thrown in.

Features, consumer and travel editor
Features, consumer and travel editor, Taryn
Picture and managing editor, Kirsten

Picture and managing editor, Kirsten

Me and my Mister, Instagrammed to within an inch of our lives

Me and my Mister, Instagrammed to within an inch of our lives

Editor Darren

Editor Darren

To see what the Essentials team looks like when we’re normal have a look at our website:

Is your Facebook profile picture and accurate representation of who you are? Or does it represent a person you wish you could be all the time?


When I was younger so much younger than today


I  often come across lists on Facebook that say, ‘If you were a child of the *fill in decade* then you’ll love this!’ And the other day I was chatting to my Mister about how, when we were small, things were different (obviously) but in particular, we never seemed to get thirsty. Now I never leave home without at least one bottle of water and I usually have two or three bottles with varying volumes in my car. This got me thinking about Things We Did As children That We Don’t Do Now.

1. Have spontaneous running races
Imagine the scene – you’re walking to your car with your colleague to go and buy a salad from Woolies when she shouts, “I’ll race you to the car! Last one there’s a stinky poo!” Or, you’re in Edgars and you ask the sales assistant where the pantyhose are and she yells, “I’ll race you – last one there’s a rotten egg!” Life would be so much fun and exciting! You’d never know what to expect and there’d be so many opportunities to win!
2. Climb on the roof of the house
Remember how you and your brothers would decide to climb onto the roof of the house to ‘fetch a tennis ball’ but actually just because you felt like climbing onto the roof? Why don’t we do that anymore? Is it because we now realise that if you fall off you’ll probably break an important part of your body into pieces, or is it because we’ve lost our sense of adventure? I’m pretty sure we can all spend a little more time on the roofs of our houses…
3. Drink water straight from the hosepipe
When we were little and very busy playing Thundercats, BarbieThundercats or He Man in the garden, no one ever said, ‘Let’s stop and go get some water – we mustn’t dehydrate’. We would never have stopped our fun-having to do something so boring – we just used to run to the nearest garden tap and slurp water right from the hosepipe. And it tasted amazing, like the purest spring water from the mountain streams of Switzerland. Now, people can find me by following the trail of water bottles from room to room.
4. Make mud pies
Playing in the mud has got to be one of the all-time favourite activities of children around the world! What child doesn’t love getting filthy and muddy? So why did we stop doing that? I never tell friends who phone on a Saturday afternoon and ask what I’m doing: ‘I’m making mud pies! Do you wanna come over?’ Yet we’ll pay hundreds to a spa to paint us with their special unicorn mud and play tinny elevator music as we lie on the uncomfortable, skinny-people beds. Go to – Tessa may not show you here how to play with mud, but she will give you her best beauty buys!
5. Play ‘let’s pretend’
AmericanFor some reason when we were small we ALWAYS used to play ‘let’s pretend we’re Americans’. I don’t know where this obsession with Americans came from – it may have come from the fact that it was the 80s and anything that wasn’t South African was über-exotic. I think I sometimes still do play ‘let’s pretend’ now when I’m chatting to my Mister, but it’s more along the lines of ‘What would you buy first if you won the Lotto on Saturday?’
6. Play dress up.
This is something I loved to do as a child. I’d take one of my mother’s bras, stuff the cups with socks and tennis balls, put on her high heels and stomp around the house. To a certain extent, I still play dress up but more so with make-up than with clothes. I’ve recently fallen in love with make-up all over again and I get so excited every morning when I put on my primer, tinted moisturiser, eye shadows and then choose from one of my 15 shades of lipstick! I can’t wait until my baby girl is old enough to play dress up with me. Have a look at page 12 of the April issue of Essentials to see how you can dress up too.
7. Eat mulberries straight off the tree
mulberriesWe used to have a mulberry tree at the back of our garden and my brother and I used to run barefoot after school and stuff our faces with bright red, juicy mulberries. We didn’t even look first to see if there were insects on them – we just used to scoff them! Now, when I eat berries of any sort, I soak them for ages first in water to make sure there are no little goggos hiding in them.
There’s so much we used to do as children that we don’t do now because we’re adults or because we don’t have time. I reckon it’d be a good idea for us to stop for a second and think about what used to make us happy as children and maybe do that once in a while. Even if it is going out into the garden and making mud pies for lunch. And if you’re looking for a delish recipe, without mulberries and goggos, visit our recipes page:

Handbags at twelve paces


I’m in love with handbags. I love the way a beautiful handbag can make me feel. I love looking at other people’s handbags. I love the way they look on the outside, I love their beautiful lining and I especially love all the little pockets inside where you can hide all sorts of interesting and, very often useless, things. Handbags are like magical little universes all on their own that hold the promise of discovery for the intrepid adventurer.

I believe a person’s handbag is indicative of the kind of person they really are. For example, you may find that people who have gigantic handbags filled with every eventuality are people who like to be in control and don’t like to be caught unprepared (I’m always reminded and envious of Michelle Pfeiffer in ‘One Fine Day’ when she whips a T-shirt belonging to her son out of her bag and puts it on after she’s spilled coffee on herself). So in order to determine if my theory is in fact correct, I asked my colleagues to tell me what they had in their handbags so I could see if it matched their personalities. This is what I found.

Tahra Tahra is our Art Director. She’s as close to unflappable as a person can get. Which is an extremely good thing when you work in an environment with deadlines carved in stone. Tahra doesn’t ever come close to falling apart at the seams. Even at deadline, Tahra is calm and in control of the situation. The other day she was in charge of putting up posters in the office and said, ‘Where must I moer a nail now?’ She’s completely plain spoken and down to earth – Tahra says exactly what she thinks. I always feel like everything is going to be OK if Tahra is calm. She’s like the air hostess on a flight – if the air hostess is calm when your plane is bouncing up and down like a yo-yo then you know it’s not time to panic. But I digress. Tahra’s the kind of person who has a notebook and pencil in her cubbyhole of her car – I know this because she just told me so. Anyway, the following items are in her handbag: diary, can of deodorant, Biral, hair clip and toothpicks (stolen from Spur). There is nothing out of the ordinary here except maybe the Biral, which explains Tahra’s perpetual calmness.

Stephanie, our online writer is a complete movie buff.  She’s loves all things cinemagraphic.  She goes to a great deal of movie premiers and screenings and writes reviews about them. She even got to interview Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart and THEN was asked to join Gerard Butler Aaronat a night club where he whispered in her ear, ‘You’re delicious’. I’m not making this up. Anyway. In Stephanie’s handbag are the following: 3D movie glasses, Dettol hand sanitizer and a mini stapler. The 3D glasses make sense considering she spends most of her time staring at a movie screen. It seems everyone in the office has some sort of hand sanitiser in their handbag, so that doesn’t really count. And I’m sorry but the mini stapler is completely inexplicable.

Kirsten handbag Kirsty, our managing and picture editor is the mother of two teenage sons. She is also the office mom. She knows EVERYTHING about everything you need to know about.  Everything a mother should teach her children, Kirsty knows. Kirsty is famous for saying, ‘I’m held together by good face cream’. That’s her down to a T – she’s pragmatic, organised, calm and very resourceful. In her handbag she has the following items: a sewing kit, a tape measure, two multi tools, a little fish that turns into a shopping bag and lots of paper and pens. I forgot to mention that Kirsty is incredibly talented when it comes to decor and she’s very good at using a little to make a lot. The tape measure and multi tools are easily explained by Kirsty’s penchant for all things decorating. It appears she does decorating on the fly too. The shopping bag is interesting but it’s also a perfect indicator of Kirsty’s very playful and fun nature.

Tessa handbag Tessa, our beauty ed, has, well, a beauty editor’s handbag. She, who once said of acupuncture, ‘Did you know that acupuncture is older than Jesus?’, has three lipsticks, a myriad notebooks, lip balms, tissues, and pencils (I had to specify pencils as, ‘They’re way cooler than pens’) in her bag. Tessa’s bag is the only one that doesn’t truly reflect her character. To put it plainly, Tessa is a loon. She finds as many opportunities as possible to put things (never hats) onto her head and to climb into boxes. So what she should really have in her bag are things like: an orange toy squid, a whisk with a blue elephant on its handle, one green sock, and a complimentary ticket to a nightclub in Beirut.

Photo by Wesley Shunn

Photo of Tessa by Wesley Shunn

I would love to tell you what is in Taryn, our consumer and features writer’s bag but she’s in Stellenbosch for a launch. So instead I’ll tell you about Taryn. She is the sweetest person I’ve met. Words like irritable, angry and mean don’t feature in her vocabulary. When Taryn goes to launches or even shopping, she will come back with little gifts for everyone in the office. In my mind Taryn has the following in her bag: four different Care Bears, a My Little Pony, mulit-coloured popsicles, candyfloss and light purple leg warmers.

Caryn, our fashion editor is out sourcing for her shoot tomorrow so I can’t do her bag either. But Caryn is lovely – her favourite saying is ‘It’s not nice to be not nice’. She’s extremely generous (my current designer handbag was a gift from her), fabulously creative, dedicated and an absolute perfectionist – she also knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t stop until she gets it.

My handbag shows exactly what kind of person I am. Simone handbagIt has the following: sunscreen, All Heal ointment, a single restaurant sweet covered in lint, perfume I use as air freshener and Teejel. I believe in being prepared for any eventuality, hence the sunscreen and I did in fact have cause to use this cream last weekend – my baby, Holly was crawling around in the sun and I hadn’t brought her sunscreen with so I had to use my emergency one. I didn’t mention that it has glitter in it so she looked like a baby vampire. Holly is also the reason I have Teejel in my bag. The perfume is self explanatory I think – the number of times I’ve walked in to a public toilet that smells awful doesn’t bare thinking about!

And finally, there’s our editor, Darren. He’s away at a launch and doesn’t have a handbag. So I asked the rest of the office how they’d describe him: as one would expect he is creative, witty, ambitious, knows himself very well and tends toward the dramatic. He dresses exceptionally well, knows what’s on-trend before Parisian designers themselves know and is super-disciplined – Darren got himself in shape and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. That takes discipline.

If you’d like to buy, or just look at some amazing handbags, go here: That’s it then. The handbags and the personalities they reflect in our office. Have a look at your own handbag and see what kind of person it describes. Is it a true reflection of you? If not, add an orange squid.

10 things I learnt on my Easter holiday

  1. When flying with a baby you do in fact need planea birth  certificate for identification. This is something the airline (I won’t mention any names) fails to mention on their tickets or website. So, when you pitch up at the airport, with an hour before boarding CLOSES, and are told you need to make the 50-minute round trip back to your house plus the 20-minute drive to and from long-term parking, don’t be surprised. Fortunately a gentleman did tell us we could use our medical aid card if Holly’s name was on it. Fortunately again, no one asked to see her identification. Really. After all of that. But now you know.
  2. If you’re travelling with a baby, board the plane first, or as close to first as possible. Everyone knows that travelling with a baby includes being encumbered with:


  • a nappy bag containing the contents of the baby’s bedroom
  • a cooler bag with the entire contents of the fridge
  • your own handbag containing everything you own
  • a carry-on bag with miscellaneous items of varying degrees of importance including picture frames (long story), camera, iPad, Kindle, book and sunscreen
  • a jersey and fashionable scarf
  • a hat and sunglasses
  • a cup of coffee and a bottle of water.

So encumbered, you walk down the aeroplane aisle and bash other passengers in the face.

3.  Your baby’s nappy won’t spontaneously combust if your baby cries. No, it’s not pleasant to hear shrill screaming and heaving sobs but we’re not encouraging our babies to cry. They’re unhappy, and we’re trying to figure out why. And when we do, we’ll try to make them stop. So, Lady in the Seat behind Me, you can take your hands off your ears – I know you’re not enjoying the noise.

4.  The seats on the plane aren’t big enough for one person, let alone one person and a baby and definitely not one person and a baby when the passenger in front puts his seat back. It’s less than a two-hour flight, Mister. You don’t need to recline.

5.  Rush hour traffic the day before the Easter long weekend in Cape Town is no place for a baby. That is all.

6.  If you’re in Cape Town ever, pack for ALL seasons – you’ll experience them all in one day. This is not a bad thing – if you like summer, you’ll get it; if you like winter, you’ll get that too. Cape Town, because it is a friendly city, caters for everyone’s likes.


7.  When you have a baby you can’t do all the things you did before – you can’t go out at night without organising a baby sitter, you can’t drive around for hours sightseeing or looking for stuff to do and you can’t go to crowded restaurants or events because babies don’t really like the kerfuffle. But that’s ok, because you don’t want or need to. Sitting watching your baba playing is sometimes all the entertainment you need. Throw in a delicious glass of wine and the scene is set for a perfect evening.

8.  When you go away over Easter calories don’t count. It’s one of those unexplained phenomena – scientists are stumped and have tried for millennia to understand it but have failed. Just eat your chocolate and go with it.

9.  Sometimes it’s OK for the baby to lick the couch/chair/fridge/grass/dog.

Lick grass

10.  Despite your best intentions, it’s very very difficult to drink only one glass of yummy  wine. But that’s fine. Why should you deprive yourself? You owe it to yourself to have another glass.