Monthly Archives: June 2013

Here’s looking at you, kid

King Shaka Airport

We were at King Shaka International Airport in Durban on Sunday after having spent a long weekend there with my family when I witnessed my very first Love Actually moment. In fact, it was more than just a Love Actually moment – it was your quintessential rom-com denouement. Let me set the scene and tell you how it went down. Ronan

Please, if you will, imagine an appropriate soundtrack playing unobtrusively over the airport speakers. Perhaps Ronan Keating’s When you say nothing at all. Visualise a busy airport gate with passengers queuing and rushing to board their flight (it was nothing like this – we were just about the last three passengers to board a Kalula.com flight from Durbs to Joburg – definitely not JFK or Heathrow).Man with heart

Anyhoo. So there we were clambering through the airport after scoffing down the slowest egg croissant orders in the history of the world, my Mister, me and the baby, our bags, her pram, stuffed cow and blankets. When we got to the boarding gate there stood our hero, carrying his heart in his hand (this is no metaphor – I swear he was holding a big red velvet heart) along with a gift. He was on his phone to his girlfriend/potential fiancée, asking her to just tell him yes or no and saying he couldn’t wait as the plane was about to board and he couldn’t change his flight.

I tried to hang back a little to listen in on his superbly dramatic conversation but my Mister had tramped off down the ramp and I looked like I was hanging back to listen to his conversation. My Mister was completely oblivious to the dramatic and possibly life-changing events unfolding a few meteres behind him.  I asked him if he’d heard what had happened and his response was: “Ja shame – that guy’s having a problem with his flight”. Boys. Sleepless in seattle

This is what happened in my head. Boy on phone is having a long distance relationship with girl on other phone. They’ve been taking turns flying between Durban and Joburg to visit each other. But it’s been getting harder and harder to be apart and the novelty and Sleepless in Seattle ness of it all is wearing thin. Finally he convinces himself that proposing to his long-distance love is the best way to rectify the situation. In his head he proposes, she says yes. They move to Durban to pursue his career. It’s perfect. What could go wrong? Well, apparently, she could not say yes immediately.

During the flight I happened to glance up over the baby playing on my lap, eating my hair and licking my face, and saw our story’s protagonist conveying his tale animatedly to a very pretty (plain) air stewardess. I did consider asking her to confirm my literary suspicions but we were hustled off the plane before I got a chance.  casablanca-2

As we trudged wearily out the airport at the other side, I again spotted our hero waiting for, I can only assume, his girlfriend/potential fiancée. But we left before I could see what happened. I like to believe that his girlfriend decided that saying yes would indeed make her exceptionally happy and that they were very lucky to have one another in their lives.

Cooking up a storm

Over the long weekend I had an opportunity to do something I haven’t had a chance to do in a really long time: cook up a storm. Because it was Father’s Day on Sunday I decided I’d really make the extra effort to make it a special day for my Mister – it being his first one. We decided to have a braai on Sunday and, because I’m a vegetarian, my ‘meat substitute’ dish was mushroom steaks. They were amazing!

First Father's Day.

First Father’s Day.

4 giant mushrooms
salt and pepper for seasoning
baby spinach
gorgonzola
home made tomato sauce or napolitana sauce
Olive oil

Clean mushrooms and season with salt and pepper
Place mushrooms on matte side of aluminium foil.
Place spinach on top of mushrooms and add some cheese.
Top off with a little tomato sauce and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Wrap tightly in foil and place on braai grid to cook. Alternatively, bake in the oven at 180°C for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Pear and gorgonzola salad with pecans and dried cranberries.

Pear and gorgonzola salad with pecans and dried cranberries.

On Friday I was chatting to our features and travel editor, Taryn and she mentioned how she always makes a pear and Parmesan salad to serve at dinner parties because it looks impressive and is so easy to put together. So I decided to give it a try.

Ingredients – serves two
mixed salad leaves including baby spinach, rocket and watercress
a sweet and ripe pear
Parmesan cheese, blue cheese or another strong tasting cheese
dried cranberries
pecan nuts, or any other of your favourite nuts (not peanuts though), roughly chopped or broken into pieces
olive oil
salt and pepper to season

Place washed salad leaves on a beautiful plate.
Cut pear into smallish (about 3cm) pieces.
Break pieces of cheese off and sprinkle over the salad leaves and pear.
Add dried cranberries and broken-up nuts.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

I needed something to go along with my mushrooms and salad so I made an old family favourite: curried beans. I’m not even 100% sure where this recipe comes from but it’s either from my mom’s mom, my Ouma, or from my mom’s sister, my aunty Pre. Anyway, regardless of its origins, it’s delicious and, although every branch of our family has a slightly different variation, we very seldom have a family braai without it. It may not be the most chic of dishes, but it’s one of those ‘classics’ that’s a family tradition and a fall-back-on side dish.

Ingredients – serves three or four
olive oil
1 small onion, chopped quite finely
a tin of butter beans
a teaspoon of curry powder
3 tablespoons of tomato sauce (you can use the homemade one you used with your mushrooms or All Gold also works well)
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
Salt and pepper to season

Fry onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes until just turning golden.

Add butter beans with their juice and turn down heat to a simmer. Add curry powder and cook until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and seasoning to beans and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring every so often. Leave to cool and serve with braai.

We had an absolutely amazing wine with our lunch. It was Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and it was a really special bottle of wine that we certainly won’t be glugging while watching Greys.

A really special bottle for a special day.

A really special bottle for a special day.

These are the winemaker’s comment…

COLOUR: Deep berry red with a purple rim.
NOSE: Elegant raspberry, blackberry and concentrated plum aromas. Slight pencil shaving notes.
PALATE: Beautiful mouth feel with a long fruit crammed, persistent finish.
FOOD: Pair with lamb casseroles, hearty stews or as a conversation point in front of a winter’s fireplace.
AGEING: To be enjoyed 2-3 years after the year of vintage and for up to 7 years thereafter.

On Monday night, because it was a public holiday, neither me or my Mister felt like cooking so we decided on an easy dish that takes only a few minutes to put together: vegetable stirfry.

Veggie stirfry with red cabbage and green beans.

Veggie stirfry with red cabbage and green beans.

Ingredients – Vegetable stirfry
olive oil
onion, finely sliced
julienne green, red or yellow pepper
julienne baby marrow
brinjal, cubed
mushrooms, wiped and sliced
red cabbage, shredded
crushed garlic and ginger
veggie stock
sweet chilli sauce
soy sauce

Fry onion in a little olive oil for a few minute.
Add peppers, baby marrow and brinjal and fry until just soft.
Add mushrooms and cabbage and fry until cooked. Then add crushed garlic and ginger.

Add a little veggie stock, sweet chilli and soy sauce with a little water to deglaze the frying pan or wok.

If you want a little chicken or beef in your stirfry, then fry it off first before adding the onion and the rest of the veggies.

One of my very favourite red wines to enjoy is the Allée Bleue Starlette Pinotage 2012, about R42. The wine has an intense ruby red colour, abundant strawberry and ripe cherry flavours on the nose. A slight hint of chocolate, liquorice and coffee gives added complexity. The palate is smooth and soft with beautiful fruit that lingers.

Haute Cabriere

But if you feel like something a little lighter but still full of flavour, try the Haute Cabriere Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011, about R80. It has a brilliant red colour, indicative of the elegant red berry aromas and enticing, concentrated ripe cherry and cranberry flavours.

Father’s Day gifts for you

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to show your husband that you appreciate all that he does with a gift you can enjoy together? From days at resorts to working in the kitchen, the following is a list of suggestions for gifts to get your man for Father’s Day.

The Day of Luxury
Want to relax around a pool with a drink in your hand while your hubby is off playing golf? Treat him to day passes to a resort! While your husband is winning the big bucks on the poker tables, you can relax with a day of beauty and wellness at the spa or sit by the pool with a cold cocktail.

The Manly Kitchen Appliance
Tired of spending time in the kitchen? Motivate your man to take over cooking duties with a kitchen appliance or grill that screams testosterone. If you live where the weather is relatively mild year-round, why not opt for a new BBQ? It lets him show off his manly “I can grill” side while you get the luxury of enjoying a glass of wine instead of slaving over the stove to cook dinner. Sounds like a win-win to me!

The Grooming Kit
Men constantly complain about having to do upkeep on their facial hair, so why not make it a time of luxury? Buy him a nice grooming kit with a great razor, some aftershave, and foaming shave gel. If it smells good enough and the blade is sharp enough to give him that close shave he enjoys, I can guarantee he will enjoy this gift, and you will too. No more stubbly kisses!

The Drinker’s Gift
Does you husband like to come home and unwind with a beer or glass of wine after his long day at work? Then a subscription to a wine or beer of the month club would be perfect for your man. You can try new types of your favorite beverage and learn which ones you like. This is a perfect gift for couples who enjoy a few drinks. Who wants to drink alone?

The Fitness Freak
If you are both motivated to get back into shape, buy a dual fitness membership for the two of you. You can take classes like kickboxing together, and working out together is great motivation.

These gifts cover a wide range of interests, so I’m sure one of them would be perfect for your husband for Father’s Day. Not only does he get to enjoy it, you get to enjoy the perks of the gift

By guest blogger Michelle Pino MichellePino@Turningstone.com

Happy Pappy Day

I believe, probably like many other women do, that my Mister is the best baby daddy there is. And I have irrefutable evidence to prove this claim.

Evidence that Mister is the best Daddy:

  • Holly smiles and runs (i.e. crawls very fast) towards Mister/Pappie when he gets home from work. And, you know what they say, a baby (and animals) knows if a person is good or bad (don’t they?).Dog
  • He has no problem singing the Smurfs theme tune to Holly to elicit a laugh and encourage her to ‘sing’. Let me just say that hearing a 30late-year-old gentleman singing ‘La la, lalala, la’ in a high-pitched voice is truly something to behold.Smurfs
  • Mister baths Holly every night because that’s their thing – it’s their own special time together in which Mommy should preferably not interfere. Unless it’s to bring a towel, pyjamas, toys, soap, something else forgotten in the bedroom…
  • When Mister leans forward and says to Holly, ‘Give me kisses’, she responds by giggling, smiling a toothy and gummy smile, leaning in and slobbering a ‘kiss’ all over her daddy.
  • Mister lets Holly slobber all over his face as she attempts a kiss.
  • Mister comes home from work – this is a lot more than many other men who have fathered children accomplish, so already he’s beating a large proportion of so-called father’s by just coming home.
  • Melting when his baby girl gives him a big, open mouthed sloppy kiss, or rests her head on his shoulder like the whole world is ok if he’s there. And it is!
  • Please excuse me speaking plainly here: Praising her for getting rid of her giant, man-sized farts and being genuinely proud at what she can accomplish.
  •  Telling her she’s amazing as she stands up, unassisted while eating supper, and smears squashed butternut or spinach all over his work shirt, in his eyebrows and generally in his face area.Spinach quiche
  • Mister often walks kilometres around the house at night trying to put a niggly, tired baby who has severe FOMO (fear of missing out) to sleep. She genuinely believes that as soon as her little eyelids close we haul out the ice cream (which she’s never tasted), call the clowns (whom she’s never seen) into the house, open the windows for the Hadedas (she’s obsessed with them) and stand around shouting, ‘Oof, oof, oof!’ (her universal expression of pleasure).Hadeda
  • He wakes up in the middle of the night, regularly and very often more than once, to bring her to me for a little snack. And then, when she falls asleep in the bed with us, he never complains about the three-in-the-bed. Or the fact that he has feet up his nose and fingers in his eyes.

    Found on Pininterest

    Found on Pinterest

And I know when she’s a little bit older, he will happily sit in front of the telly watching football and rugby playing Barbie with her. And this image makes me love them both even more (not least because it means I’ll have some free time…). I can see him gladly complying when she asks him to brush her hair into a pony because ‘Mommy doesn’t do it right!’ and dressing her in the mornings for nursery school as he dresses her now.

And all these things, these little reasons that are such big reasons, are what makes my Mister the best baby daddy. They’re also the very things that make him a ‘real man’. It’s not grunting guy at the gym or the booitjie chugging beers at the bar that makes a real man. It’s the one who does what he promised to do when he married his wife or had a baby.

Is your man a ‘real man’? Let me know and if you believe he is then go to www.essentials.co.za and enter our Real Man competition. You and you partner can win some amazing prizes and feature in the magazine.

You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen…

20130608-180150.jpg

If you could go back eight, 10, 20 years, what message would you want to give to your 17-year-old self? And, I suppose more importantly, would your old (younger?) self listen to your new adult self? Do you think your life would have been better or different if you could have given yourself some important message or passed on some amazing advice?

When I think of myself, I think of myself as being 17. I still feel like I’m 17. It seems to me to have been a watershed year – a year when so many of my life’s most defining moments happened. I matriculated when I was 17 – the end to 12 seemingly endless years that I came to see as nothing less than torture. Where the teachers went out of their way (it seemed) to be annoying, uncool and mean. Weird then that I would, at age 26, decide to become a teacher myself, and start my own torture of school kids.

20130608-180605.jpg

When I was 17 it was also the year I met the man who would become my Mister. I went with some friends to a music festival called The Concert on the Farm. I climbed out of the tent one morning and saw Mister-to-Be stretching in the early Morning sun and I said to my friends, ‘I’m going to marry that man’. And then I did (albeit years later, not right away). But that’s another story.

If I could go back to when I was 17, I would tell myself two things. They may not both have changed the course of history for the universe but they certainly would have changed my life. I would’ve told myself to be nicer to my mother, to stop fighting with her about absolutely everything, because she was doing the very best she could do. And, despite what I thought, she wasn’t in fact trying to ruin my life. I would also have said: ‘You’re not fat, you silly little girl! Enjoy the way you look because you’ll never ever be this thin again!’ That would definitely have changed my life. I would have been far more confident and spent much less time obsessing over my weight.

I asked the ladies in my office what they would have told themselves if, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, they could go back and have a word with themselves, what would they say. Everyone knew immediately what they’d say without even thinking about it.

fish on bicycle

Kirsten would tell teenage Kirsty that you don’t need a man to be happy. You’re perfectly capable of being on your own and being perfectly content on your own too! She would also tell herself, ‘Don’t listen to your friends – your mom will find out!’ I think that the last piece of advice is something we can all relate to and probably all should have known then. It’s probably also something our own children should know!

Taryn’s advice to herself is somewhat different. She would tell herself to stop taking life so seriously and to go out and have some fun! While this is the complete opposite of what I needed to hear as an almost-feral 17-year-old, it’s perhaps something many of us need to hear now.

bungee-jumping-game-1-0-s-307x512

Tahra would tell herself to be more adventurous and to listen to her to her mother, while Grace would say to her teenage self: ‘Mom knows best and you don’t know everything!’

books

I extended my investigation to my mom in law and, while there’s not many things she regrets having done or not having done, she’d tell herself to read more – books are your greatest education. Finally I asked my Mister what he would have said: ‘Put those cigarettes down and don’t listen to your friends – make up your own mind’.

And, while I know it’s completely futile trying to pass on any knowledge I have gained to anyone over the age of eight, I want my baby daughter to know these things when she’s 17:

  • Never cancel dinner plans by text message.
  • When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
  • Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.
  • Don’t dumb it down.
  • Don’t pose with booze.
  • You’re so very, very intelligent and you’re capable of doing absolutely anything you want to do.
  • You can be intelligent and beautiful at the same time – it’s never ever a choice you have to make.
  • You’re amazing and I will love you with my whole heart forever.
  • You’re so much stronger than you think you are so trust me when I tell you that.
  • But mostly, you’ll understand how much I love you when you have your own baby girl.

IMG_0221

Not dogs, not playing rummy

ninja

It snuck up on me. Like a stealthy, well-trained ninja, hell-bent on destruction. I thought I was safe. I thought I was we’ll-protected – I take a multi-vitamin. But there it was lurking in the corner, ready to pounce as I woke up last Monday morning and clawed my way out of bed. I didn’t notice immediately, it being that well disguised. It was only as I sat in traffic, in the gently glowing sun, that I realised how deeply, and completely, exhausted-to-the-bone I was.  And it only got worse as the morning wore on. No amount of coffee, not even coffee administered intravenously, could ward off the weariness. And that’s when I began to brew my plan.

Nails

I made a Fooble (Facebook and Google) request for some suggestions of a spa where I could have my nails done while lying down having a nap (so I could multi-task, you see, like all moms do). I got some great responses from friends – and a few weird ones from my brother – and finally settled on Riverview Spa in Muldersdrift (www.riverviewspa.co.za). Because it was the week of Essentials’ magazine print deadline we had a half day on Friday so I decided to make it a full day off.

pattiserie belle

I woke up on Friday morning and decided to treat myself to a brekkie to kick-start my day off. I stopped in at Patisserie Belle (www.patisseriebelle.co.za), a gorgeous little eatery that serves delicious light meals and is decorated in the opulence of sixteenth-century France. I had an omelette that was as light and fluffy as a cloud stuffed full of cheese and mushrooms and it was fabulous! I sat all alone reading my Country Life magazine and sipping my cappuccino. I’ve never done this before (gone out for a meal alone) and I don’t know why – it was peaceful and relaxing and I could do whatever I wanted to do. It was a promising start to my weekend of wellness.

I followed my breakfast up with a couple of hours baby-and-husband-free clothes shopping, another thing I’m not used to. It’s so much easier trying on clothes when you don’t have someone tugging on your arm to leave, and not having a baby there either also made it less if a chore.  And then I went for my spa treatments.

Imagine, if you can, a place in the countryside nestled between the hills and alongside a babbling brook. A place where the birds sing, butterflies flit and the bees happily collect their pollen. This idyl is Riverview Spa. And it’s a mere 20 minutes from Randburg. I was gently led to a covered wooden deck overlooking a swimming pool and the hills in the distance. I lay down and floated away as the melodic tones of gentle pan flutes carefully caressed my aching body and tired mind.

I woke an hour and a half later with very pretty pink toes and finger nails and a quietly soothed and restored body. As I drove down the dirt road and away from my temporary sanctuary that had saved me from temporary insanity, I mused about the appropriate start to my weekend of wellness.

packed car

Saturday dawned bright and early (ok not bright, it being early in winter in Johannesburg) with the soft cooing noises (read: loud shouting) of baby Holly playing as a soundtrack to the dawn. We packed the car and headed off to the Vaal Dam for a short getaway with friends. Just a quick aside here: going away for one night with a baby requires the same amount of luggage two adults alone would need to go camping for three weeks. The rest of the weekend was spent  doing all the things my tired, drained and cluttered mind and body so badly needed for restoration. We drank magnificent wine (ALLÉE BLEUE STARLETTE PINOTAGE 2012 – about R42) , ate tasty food and gorgeous pudding and played Mexican Train (an entertaining domino game) with Arrested Development on TV in the background. We laughed, joked, caught up on each other’s lives and teased one another – something I’ve not done in a while and something I definitely needed.

Ballée Bleue

Ballée Bleue

So as we drove home on Sunday afternoon and I wrote my very late blog post, I pondered the importance, the necessity of friends, and how some friendships are so special, that regardless of how long you haven’t seen one another for, things are exactly the same as they were when you last left off. And, in the  weird and random words of the back window of a taxi I once saw: when times are dark, friends are few. How patently untrue.

rummy