Tag Archives: Essentials

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.



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: 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.



We don’t need no education



I was watching a programme on the cooking channel the other day and it was about a woman who’d become a chef quite late in life. But she’d worked hard and pursued her dream job and finally she’d reached her goal. And so it got me thinking about the people I know and the jobs they do, and the jobs I’ve done, and the job I now do.



When I was small I used to spend a great deal of my time lining my dolls up and teaching them the rudiments of the English language and the multiplication table. You see, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. And, fortunately after having travelled down a number of different educational and career paths, I finally found myself where I’d always dreamed of being: in front of a classroom full of students. But, that turned out not do be the dream I thought it was… And soon, I ventured down a different track.

Everybody has a dream job, something they believe will make them truly happy, something that they believe they’re meant to be doing with their lives. Even though I knew what the answer would be, I asked my Mister what his dream job is. He wants to be a dog walker and a television tester. My Mister loves dogs. All dogs, even the ugly ones. When he was little he used to walk around his neighbourhood giving the dogs names and talking to them. And I believe the TV tester thing is self-explanatory.



I asked my brother and sister-in-law the same question. My brother wants to be a farmer. And for some reason that makes me think of a story he once told us. His wife’s family is friends with a man who owns a game farm. This man, whose game farm is in a very isolated area, sometimes doesn’t get dressed. And I don’t mean he stays in his pyjamas. On some days he pulls on his socks and shoes, smears on the sunscreen and out he goes. Naked. I can imagine my brother doing this.



My sister-in-law Bianca wants to open a deli or a bistro. She’d like to grow her own food that she’ll serve at her deli. They’ve just moved to a small town on the coast and the only deli-type restaurant that was there burned down a couple of months ago. I’m sure she had nothing to do with it, but it does put her in an excellent position to open her own bistro.

We spoke to four readers who’ve also managed to turn their dreams into their dream jobs. And now, as the saying goes, because they love what they do they never have to work a day in their lives. To read about how they started living their dreams, get a copy of the October issue of Essentials and read all about it. And, if you’re doing your dream job, send a mail to essentials@caxton.co.za and tell us about us – we’d love to hear.

Wear flowers in your hair

MeadowI can’t believe that in four days it’ll be spring. We haven’t had much of a winter here in Johannesburg but the weather’s supposed to make up for that by being freezing this weekend – just in time for spring day. Oh, Weather, the irony is not lost on us. Despite this imminent freeze caused by hell hath no fury like a winter ignored, spring day is almost here and, regardless of how much it snows, I will celebrate my favourite spring things. And these are:

1. Jasmine blooms7 Overgaauw Chardonnay 2012

2. Lighter mornings and lighter evenings

3. Weekend braais

4. Chilled white wine

5. Chilled sparkling wine

6. Very big Magnum ice creams

7. Voile curtains billowing in the the afternoon breeze

8. Dogs splashing in rivers

9. Salads with dinner

10. Fewer clothing layers

11. Pretty painted toes

12. New sandals

13. Lying on the hammock reading a book

14. Frogs singing

15. Spring rains and the new life they bring

If you’re planning on spring day festivities, grab a copy of the September issue of Essentials (or go to the website www.essentials.co.za) and have a look at the fabulous recipes and delicious wines we have for you. And if spring day turns out to be the coldest day of the year, and you have to postpone your celebrations due to the snow, you’ll have a fab mag to keep you company as you bundle yourself up in bed with a hot chocolate.

Hot choc 1

I’m leaving on a jet plane

So tomorrow I’m flying to Cape Town for a lunchtime launch for a well known store’s Christmas food products. I’m excited but, I have to admit, a little nervous too. And there are a couple of reasons for this…

1. I’ve never flown anywhere alone before. I know… I’m 33 and I’ve always flown with someone – my Mister or, when I was younger, my parents. So this first trip alone is a little scary. And very grown up. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I still think of myself as being 17, so doing grown-up things is daunting.


2. I’ve never been more than a few kilometres away from my baby, Holly. And now I’m going to be on the other side of the country. With no car! Not that having a car would help me but still, I’d feel somehow more in control if I had transport I was maneuvering by myself. But I’m being dropped at the Gautrain station by Mister, zoomed to the airport by the train driver, flown to Cape Town by a pilot and driven by a driver to the launch. I’m going to be completely out of control. The. Whole. Day. (You’ve probably gathered that I’m the type of person who feels more comfortable when she’s in control of her environment and situation. If not – I am.)


3. I’m going on a plane without luggage. And, for some reason, that makes me feel really uncomfortable. Like I won’t have what I need when I need it. But that’s ridiculous. I’ll have my giant mommy bag with everything I usually carry around and never use. For some people it may be freeing travelling unencumbered, with just the wind in their hair and their boarding pass in their hand – but not me! I need to be weighted down by bags and jackets and books and scalding coffee and a sarmie.

4. I may sit next to a strange person on the plane. One who wants to chat or who has broccoli in his teeth and who’s wearing an anorak. Whenever I’ve flown with my Mister I’ve always used him as the security buffer between me and weirdly-dressed (an smelling) strangers. I have a thing about my personal space and aeroplanes definitely test me by insisting I invite other people to sit virtually on my lap or grunt in my ear.

Big girl panties

So tomorrow I’ll take my well-packed mommy bag, stocked with everything I may need in the far reaches of the country. I’ll pull on my big girl panties and navigate South Africa’s first high-speed underground rail system alone. I’ll sit next to the perfect stranger, whom the airline teams me up with. And I’ll listen silently as they cough, sneeze and grunt right next to me.

And, finally I’ll relinquish transportational control to the professionals. I’ll look at it as a type of ‘flooding’ therapy session or Fear Factor where I’m forced to confront my deepest fears. Let’s just hope there aren’t millions of beetles going clickity clack that I have to cover myself in. That’s where I draw the line.

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.