Tag Archives: essential magazine

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 wallpaperswala.com

Pic from wallpaperswala.com

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 tvtropes.org

Pic from tvtropes.org

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 digitaltrends.com

Pic by Rick Marshall from digitaltrends.com

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.



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: heritageportal.co.za

Hogsback Inn. Photo: heritageportal.co.za

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.

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

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.

Photo: thereaux.net

Photo: thereaux.net

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 Essentials.co.za and click on the Food tab for some delectable recipes.



Sisters are doing it for themselves

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre.

Holly1With August being Women’s Month I’ve decided to dedicate this post to some of the amazing women I’m fortunate enough to know. All the women in my life have stories and qualities that make each of them worthy of their own full-length feature film (played by a movie star of their choice). So I’ve decided to focus on those who have the qualities I hope my baby will one day have herself.

I have to start with my mother because, well, she’s my mother. My mom is tolerant. She is one of the most placid and laid back people I’ve ever met. There is very little you can do to irritate her and it takes a lot for her to lose it. I can count on my one hand the number of times I have seen her throw her toys during my life and those times were when someone had really provoked her. Next is my mom-in-law. She’s patient. But like biblical-Job patient, not nursery school teacher patient. I’ve never seen her lose her temper and she has six granddaughters under the age of 13! She once went on holiday with five of these shouty, energetic (sometimes whiny, always demanding) little girls and they all came out alive on the other side.

My sister in law, Charmaine is kind. She is one of the nicest, most giving women I know. I once asked her to babysit Holly for a month when we were stuck without a nanny and, without thinking twice about it, she agreed. At short notice (like two-days-before short notice). My other sister in law, Bianca is nurturing and maternal; she’s a wonderful mom to her two beautiful, clever and funny little girls and somehow she always knows what the right thing is to do for them.


My Mister’s two sisters, have so much they could teach Holly. Vanessa is a published author, a mother of three stunning, smart little girls, and lives in America. Vanessa could teach her niece courage. It takes an astonishing amount of bravery to leave the country you know and love, and your family to pursue wonderful opportunities in another country. Lesley is my Mister’s other sister. She could teach Holly how to balance her home life and her work life. Lesley has a very highly respected position at a bank and does quite a bit of travelling for her work. And she has two tween daughters. Somehow, and seemingly without effort, Lesley manages to balance her work and home life like a particularly skilled tightrope walker in a Russian circus. And… and she still manages to bake the most delicious cakes and treats!

From these six amazing women, I want Holly to learn: tolerance, patience, kindness, how to be nurturing, courage and balance.


From the women I work with, who all have their own stories of strength and who’ve all travelled incredible journeys, I’d like Holly to learn the qualities that will make her the kind of woman people don’t easily forget. I want her to learn resourcefulness from Kirsty, who’s also one of the strongest women I know. Kirsty is so incredibly resourceful, not only can she make anything out of nothing, but she also always knows what to do and say in every situation.

Tahra can teach my daughter charity. She’s always looking for new ways to help people in need and will regularly take on fund-raising initiatives to help others without a thought about how it’ll affect her.

Working girl

I want Holly to learn independence from Grace who wouldn’t have been out of place in a movie like Working Girl and could easily have been a pin-up for the 80’s, power-suit wearing, ball-busting corporate high flyer.

From Taryn I’d like my baby girl to learn generosity. Whenever Taryn goes to a launch, or ‘town’, she comes back with a little something for us. Whether it’s a book she thinks we might enjoy or a coffee we desperately need, Taryn is always sharing.

Stephanie could teach Holly curiosity: she’s not scared to ask questions when she doesn’t know something, a quality that’s so admirable and so rare.

And from Caryn I’d like her to learn humility – a more humble, almost to a fault, person you’ll never find. Caryn is so good at what she does, but she’ll be the last person to blow her own horn (or wear her own designs?).

These incredible women I work with could teach Holly resourcefulness, charity, independence, generosity, curiosity and humility.

If my daughter grows up to have all of these qualities, she will certainly be a woman to be reckoned with; an empowered woman of strength, courage, patience and kindness – the kind of woman we all aspire to be. I am so lucky to have such amazing women in life and, this month, I will honour them in as many ways as I can, starting with this story about their strengths.


Grab a copy of the August issue of Essentials magazine to read about more inspiring, real women like you.

A nobleman’s daughter

While awake the other morning at 3:00am with my almost-one-year-old I was thinking that sometimes I feel like I was born at the wrong time. I’m sure my mother will agree – no one thinks midnight is a great time to be roused from bed by a massive pain in the abdomen that makes one think one is being ripped in two. But that isn’t quite what I mean. I feel like I was born into the wrong age, or era if you like.



The problem is I was born in 1980 so I didn’t even really get to appreciate the melted-Cheddar-cheese-on-toast that was the ‘80s, like those who were born in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s did. I was too young to fully experiment with the very big permed hair and ultra-lumo eyeshadow. Nor did I get to wear neon yellow and green nail polish on my fingers and toes. So I really do feel like my enjoyment of my birth decade was incomplete. Yes, I do realise that the eighties are back in a big way and I could go to Dis-Chem and buy myself some Day-Glo nail polish, but it’s not the same and I really don’t want to, owing to it being ugly.

Gatsby-inspired shopping: http://bit.ly/18HkphC

Gatsby-inspired shopping: http://bit.ly/18HkphC

The decade that resonates most with me is The Roaring Twenties. And, while I do believe I would have made a spectacular flapper with my pin curls, pleats and gathers, the twenties theme has been well and truly murdered in a spectacular way by the release of The Great Gatsby. So I’m over it (but if you’re not, click on the pic above to check out some Gatsby-inspired buys!).

From Essentials magazine SA on Pinterest

From Essentials magazine SA on Pinterest

My second favourite era would have to be Victorian England. I would, of course, have been born into a noble family, and would not have had anything to do with the hoi polloi and grunginess that more often than not characterised large cities. I would have adorned myself with enormous feather and flower-laden hats, and ankle-brushing skirts. And I would have carried a pretty floral parasol so as not to let my delicate skin burn in the heat of the sun. My family would have thrown me a Debutantes’ Ball after which I would have been courted by a seemly number of young gentlemen who had very good prospects and who came from equally impressive backgrounds.

The Gadget Expert - July Essentials mag

The Gadget Expert – July Essentials mag

While living the life of a nobleman’s daughter in times gone by may sound fabulous and lazy, it also means I wouldn’t have had all my beloved technology at my disposal: no Samsung Galaxy 4, no iPad, no computer on which to write, no magazine at which to work and no internet on which to research fashion trends of Victorian England. Have a look at the July issue of Essentials magazine for Taryns techno tips and Caryn’s fashion finds. They’ll certainly have you appreciating the time in which you live.

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.



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.