Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ooh baby baby it’s a wild world

Pic from

Pic from

Work is tough. Our hours are long and often we get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing over and over again (Groundhog Day with Bill Murray comes to mind). Especially at this time of year – it feels like we’re stumbling, arms thrust out in front of us zombie-like, to some imagined finish line where things will magically improve. But often they don’t. Often it’s just more of what we’ve been doing the whole year, just at a more frenetic pace.

Holly waterSo I had a look for the happiest person I know, and that’s my daughter Holly. Even when she face plants at high speed she manages to dust herself off (albeit after a few minutes of blood-curdling screaming) and carry on chasing the leaves. In fact, almost all toddlers are ridiculously happy. There’s a lot we can learn from them. This is a conversation between a good friend of mine, Emmi, and her ridiculously cute and smart little boy, Richard:

Emmi: what do birds eat?
Rich: trees
Emmi: and what do crocodiles eat?
Rich: water
(and my two favourites)
Emmi: and how about lions? what do they eat?
Rich: special grass
Emmi: what do pigs eat?
Rich: money (that would be thanks to the piggy bank on the kitchen counter)

Little children don’t know ‘I don’t know’, and they don’t care what others think of them. And, other lessons I’ve learnt from my baby are:

  • It’s ok to stop what you’re doing when you hear music (even bad doof doof music) and dance like the world is watching and cheering you on.
  • It’s ok to grab your dolls as you walk past, give them to mama and dada and get them to join in ‘dudu-ing’ them with you. And it’s ok to expect that they will.
  • It’s ok to shout really loudly, right from your belly, when you’re excited. In fact, you should.
  • When you’re happy, run. Run until you fall down. Then get up and run some more.
  • When you see something you like, take it. Pick it up and show it to everyone to share your amazement.
  • Get right in there with the things you love. Climb on them, hold, squeeze them, throw them.
  • Don’t be scared to imitate those you admire. Emulate them but make sure they’re good people doing good things first.
  • Outside is best. Always. Even in the rain. And water feels amazing.
  • Eat only when you’re hungry. And stop eating when you’re full. Even if it tastes good.
  • Tell people exactly what you think and how you feel. Don’t make them guess your feelings.
  • Explore. Press all the buttons and see what they do. If they make a scary noise, call until someone (mom) comes to help.
  • Play in the bath. Get out all your toys. Splash, laugh and shout – it’s so much fun!
Pic from

Pic from

We need to have more fun with our lives. They’re not going to get any easier or any better just because it’s nearing the end of the year. You’ll have to make it better and easier and more fun. But that’s the easy part. Just pretend your a toddler ( minus the tantrums) and you’re there.

When I get mad and I get…

I’m creating my very own Shovel List. For anyone who’s read Marian Keyes’ novel, The Mystery of Mercy Close, you’ll be familiar with the term. For those of you haven’t, you really should. It’s such a funny, heart-warming, touching read. Yes, I know Marion Keyes writes chick lit, but it’s good chick lit – her books have something so real about them, I feel I can always relate to some quality in one of her characters. This time it’s the protagonist Helen who I feel so drawn to.

An aside here: I have a massive girl crush on Marian Keyes. We’re so similar in so many ways, and the ways in which we’re not similar I just wish I was more like her. To quote Honey from my favourite movie of all time, Notting Hill: ‘I genuinely believe and have believed for some time now that we could be best friends.’

Ok, back to the matter at hand – the Shovel List. According to Helen Walsh a Shovel List is a list of all the things and people you hate so much, you want to hit them in the face with a shovel. So I’ve been collecting things to put on my Shovel List (a little like a malevolent Pinterest board). And it’s not as easy as you would think. You don’t want to overwhelm the list with petty little irritations and dislikes. You want to include only big, VERY annoying things that you just can’t let pass when people say and do them.

Simone’s Shovel List

Funnily enough most of the items on my list are examples of clichéd corporate jargon… but there are a few other little gems that don’t come from the Very Important Business World:

  • Low hanging fruit – this just irritates me.
  • Going forward – where else would we go? Into the past?
  • Ask, as in ‘that is a huge ask.’ It’s not an ask; it’s a request.’ ‘Ask’ is a verb, not a noun. And, while we’re at it, ‘impact’ is not a verb, it’s a noun. This is not a sentence that is correct: ‘The decision impacts on our work.’
  • Think outside of the box – this is used so often that if everyone thinks outside of the box, they’ll all be thinking the same way and will therefore be thinking inside the box.
  • Multiple exclamation marks – no. Just no.
  • Lots and lots of dots for an ellipsis – an ellipsis is a punctuation mark comprised of three full stops, just like a semi colon is a full stop on top of a comma. You can’t change an ellipsis into seven dots just like you can’t change a semi colon into a question mark on top of a hyphen.
  • Me personally – as opposed to who?
  • In my personal opinion – who else’s opinion would you give?
  • People who throw rubbish out their car windows. Why? Who is going to see the inside of your car between now and when you get there?
  • People who interrupt conversations. This just shows me that your mother didn’t teach you any manners. And, what you have it say is not more important than what I’m saying unless you’re chocking, blue in the face and need assistance. Then it might be.

I did a little investigation and invited a couple of people to add their very own items to my shovel list. A shovel list sub-let, if you will.

  • Kirsten, our managing editor, has put inconsiderate people right at the top of her list, closely followed by people who don’t help other people.
  • My Mister’s number one Shovel List spot is reserved for motorbikes that push in in traffic and then take up as much space as a car does. This is NOT alleviating the traffic problem – so don’t try use that as a justification for bad manners.

If you’re looking for an author to begin a relationship with like I have with my Marion, go to the Essentials website and have a look at the fab books our features editor Taryn has reviewed. There are also a whole load of DVD reviews there if you prefer a less literary relationship.

Shop around the clock


You get many different types of people in shopping centres. And you get many different types of people doing many different types of things in shopping centres. One would think people go to shopping centres to do as the name suggests – shop. However, people’s activities are not always informed by the name of the establishment.

I have, unfortunately, spent a great deal of time in shops and shopping centres of late. I say unfortunately because I don’t like to shop. I love things, and having things, but I don’t like the act of actually shopping for the things. And I’ve been shopping more often lately because of Christmas. Yes, I Know it’s just gone the middle of October but, in the monthly magazine industry, we work two months in advance. So, while you’re sitting enjoying a lovely glass of wine and some salted nuts, looking forward to your end of year hols at the beach, we’re recovering from Christmas and new year, working on Jan and planning for Valentine’s Day. It gets very confusing.

Anyway, back to the shops. I’ve been shopping a lot of late as I’ve been looking for Christmas food to feature. Which is very difficult as the shops are only just starting to put out their tinsel and colorful baubles. Food will only come later. I know this because I’ve traipsed the malls flat and found very little. What I have found is lots of different types of people:

The family enjoying an outing

These people are easily recognized by their sheer volume. I say volume and not number because they take up so much of the room at the mall. There are always eight of them: Mom, Dad, Aunty, Granny, and four children of varying ages and activity levels. And they tend to wield their trolley like a weapon. Beware of this type of person.

The giggling teenage girls

Pic from

Pic from

This species is easily spotted by the sound they emit (high pitched, loud squawking) and the wattage generated by the reinterpreted 80s neon clothing they’re sporting. They  tend to travel in packs of three or four and are generally harmless unless they’re walking four abreast and have their smartphones out. Then you have no hope of passing them and may as well settle in for the duration.

The uber-cool teenage boy

Pic from

Pic from

Easily identified by the hoodie over his head, the spotty complexion, hunched shoulders and falling-down pants. This mostly harmless, often-feared group is heard before it’s seen due to the cellphone blasting tinny techno as its owner lurks menacingly in a corner.

The traveller 

Pic by Rick Marshall from

Pic by Rick Marshall from

You’ll recognize this type by the backpack, crocs and socks and camera dangling from a colourful, African tribal-print strap around the neck. They’re most often found congregated around McDonalds looking mildly perplexed. Travellers tend not to walk very quickly, which is surprising because one would assume  they do so much of it. If you’re short of time, avoid MacDonalds and the iStore as they search for adapters for their iGadgets.

If, after reading this, you’re more wary than before, you may want to shop online. Alternatively you can just get in and out ofthe mall as quickly as possible. Preferably with a POA (plan of action). That’s where we come in: Grab a copy of the November issue of Essentials, on shelf on Monday, and see the fab shopping ideas we have for you.


Mama Thembu’s getting married today

2007 - At a 'P Party'

2007 – At a ‘P Party’

A decade is a really long time. In a decade:

  • Legwarmers went from über-cool to oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-I-wore those.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus went from rocking to ‘Who’s that?’.
  • Fondues went from the height of chic to let’s-just-hide-it-under-the-stairs.
  • Hummers were so hot, and then so not, before a decade was out.
  • Lazer disks crashed and burned.
  • Cell phones went from brick-sized to pebble-sized.
  • I stayed married.
2008 - A 21st at Albisini Dam

2008 – A 21st at Albisini Dam

Yes, this month is my 10-year wedding anniversary. My Mister and I have been married since 2003 – I was just a little 23-year old chicken and he was just a little 30-year boy. What did we know? Well, apparently we know enough to stay married for 10 years! Yes, I know that sounds really arrogant, but I believe this is a milestone to be proud of, so I’ll ride the wave while I can. And, while it’s ‘just’ our 10-year anniversary, we’ve been together for 16 years. So I am very proud of us.

Let me tell you a little bit about our wedding. I don’t think I’ve ever been a conventional type of person. Sometimes I’ve even gone out of me way to do just the opposite because I felt like being otherwise. So, for the big day, I researched different wedding ceremony traditions and either completely excluded those I didn’t like, or changed them in a way that suited our personalities a little better. My poor mother was mortified. But I think I do that regularly – mortify her.

Here are some of the traditions I discovered and didn’t like (they may or may not be true, but the interweb said they were true):

Bachelor’s and bachelorette parties

I told my Mister-to-be how I felt about the message these parties sent. They’re a celebration, or rather a mourning, of the end of an old life and the beginning of a new, less exciting life. By the time we were married we had been together for six years – nothing was changing; there WAS no old and new life. Also, I felt it was offensive that one would want a party that says, ‘Ooh, my life was fun. Now’s it’s going to be crap. Let me get drunk’. Don’t you find that just a little insulting?

The wearing of veils

Women wore veils in the days where arranged marriages were far more commonplace. The veils were there to hide the bride’s face until the ‘I dos’ had been said and the groom couldn’t back out. This little tit-bit of info offended my sensibilities, so I refused to wear a veil.

Father giving away the bride

This one was a really simple decision to make:  I do not, have never and will never BELONG to anyone. Therefore, I was no-one’s to give away in the first place. I asked my brother to ‘escort’ me down the aisle in case I tripped on my train and so I wouldn’t get lonely.

Seeing each other before the wedding

I don’t know what this is all about – I think it’s similar to the wearing a veil story – but I needed to see my Mister before the ceremony. I was so overwhelmed and freaked out and no one could calm me down, so I insisted someone fetch him to come and chat with me as I got ready.

2013 - A wedding in Cape Town

2013 – A wedding in Cape Town

Despite these potential wedding pitfalls, and me breaking tradition, and Mister seeing my face, we made it through the ceremony, the reception (just barely), the morning after (when South Africa was playing Australia in the Rugby World Cup), the honeymoon, the anti-climax after the honeymoon and the subsequent 9 years and 48 weeks that included the birth of a gorgeous little girl. Well done, Mister. I love you and thanks for putting up with mortifying me.

2013 - with our amazing baba

2013 – with our amazing baba

If you’re celebrating something this month, grab a copy of the October issue of Essentials magazine and read our feature on the top road-trip routes in South Africa – what a fab way to celebrate with loved ones!

Party like a rockstar, Mister

My Mister’s 40th birthday is on Saturday. We’ve racked our brains over how to celebrate it. We’ve debated whether it’ll be destination party, if we’ll go out for lunch or have it catered. I’m all for all of those options because it means I don’t have to clean up and can spend my time concentrating on paying close attention to my crispy cold Sauvignon Blanc.

Hogsback Inn. Photo:

Hogsback Inn. Photo:

Mister always said he’d like to have his 40th birthday party in Hogsback, a quaint bohemian village in the mountains of the Eastern Cape. And, while we would have loved to have gone back (we spent a few nights of our honeymoon there and it was beautiful and strange), it was just too difficult to organise family and friends to all meet up in such a remote location for a night (it’s like herding cats just trying to get the friends into one car). Hogsback has a labyrinth and many quirky little cafes. It’s high up in the mountains and very misty and pretty. I believe it to be South Africa’s very own Hobitan.



Little furry footed creatures aside, we decided to have family and friends over to our house to celebrate there. So, come Saturday afternoon, my beautiful new house will see an influx of excitable children ranging from 15 months to 16 years, a host of happy grannies who’ll be spoiling their grandchildren with sneaky bites of Eton Mess, a bevy of boisterous boys telling their big loud man-jokes in deep voices, and a clutch of pretty, patient wives gulping their wine.



I want to make the day really special so I’ll be doing the food myself (*lowers eyes and shakes head at self*). And I’ve bought a lovely gift. Mister asked for a skateboard (I’m serious – you can’t make that up) but, since our medical aid savings is depleted (their word not mine), that can wait until January 1. He also asked for a fancy watch but, according to my last payslip, my salary is not the equivalent of South Africa’s ministerial vehicle allowance. So, in the end, I decided to compromise (read: buy something I could also enjoy) and bought him a Nespresso machine.

So on Saturday I’ll be alternating between my wine and cups of coffee while I slave away in the kitchen doing everything I can to make sure my Mister has a wonderful birthday. Because he is amazing and I love him a ridiculous amount. And, if you’ll be slaving away too (for whatever entertaining-reason), and need some fab foodie inspiration, grab a copy of the October Essentials and follow our recipes for:

  • a sizzling seafood platter (with J.C Le Roux La Vallée MCC)
  • hazelnut tarts with strawberries
  • asparagus and prosciutto lilies
  • classic Cobb salad

Or visit and click on the Food tab for some delectable recipes.