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Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Lunar Effect

I’ve always said that a girl has the right to a few things: a mild shoe obsession, a good glass of vino at any time of the day, a weekly cry for no reason at all, an unreasonable amount of reassurance over all matters of the heart, a bad hair day or 8, a pair of fat pants and a pass on a crazy moment here and there. Well… this girl has cashed in on a lot of these rights lately, particularly the latter.

On Saturday night, against my better judgement, I decided to celebrate the ol’ 28. Let me tell you of my original birthday “party” plan:
Delicious Man (mine), feeding me chocolate covered strawberries, compliments and sexual favours.
Instead, I succumbed to the social pressures that inevitably surround a birthday:
Copious Amounts of Alcohol
Loud Music
Reckless Behaviour
I guess it’s in my fibre to be both a people pleaser and an impulsive decision maker. Whether the two are well suited, I’m not too sure. Somewhere around 11pm the monumental mistake was made to go to the second location, which in my experience has never led to very good things. As I walked to the bar to order our first round I struck up a conversation with two lovely gents who proceeded to buy me Stroh Rum. Cough. Yes… you read that right. Apparently Stroh Rum is not just for misspent youth’s and fire accelerant, it makes a cameo appearance in the movie This Is About To Turn Into A Disaster as well.
The rest of the evening I only remember in a few frames: I walked to the car, someone gave me a piece of pizza, I came back, downed my wine angrily? And then went home and spent 4 hours crying to said delicious man about what – I don’t know.  I haven’t had an incident like this since Jack’s dreaded 30th two years ago when I was collapsed on the floor in a purple wig next to a candyfloss machine, sobbing. In all fairness, that was much worse but I can’t help wondering where this crazy drunk girl comes from and why she’s so mopey and annoying.
Is alcohol an un-inhibitor? Sure. But it really bothers me that I have a little coo-coo in me and that it hides somewhere behind this poised and fabulous exterior like a sneaky brat waiting to leap out when I’m most vulnerable.
On more than one occasion I’ve been told and led to believe that with every shadow there is light, with every bright sparkle is stifling night and under every beaming ray is a murky darkness. I get that there is a balance to things and that life can’t all be about sunshine and roses, why then is it so hard to accept that we all have a dark side? If the moon was just a bright big ball of light in the sky, we’d never be able to see an eclipse, or the way it creates a sliver that looks like a rouge toe nail clipping on a velvet abyss. We’d never be able to appreciate the mystery of a full moon, just as it hung smugly in the sky last night, chuffed as anything with its chubby cheeks leering down at us.
Now there are some people who believe that the lunar cycle somehow correlates to human behaviour – in a bunch of weird ways. Surgeons used to refuse to operate when there was a full moon because they believed there was a higher risk of death in the patient. Policemen believe that there are higher crime rates when there is a full moon while others believe it causes lunacy, seizures and violence. Not to mention the obvious werewolf factor! Smiling to myself last night as I peered up at the sky, I wondered if this could be the cause of my outbreak and if I could get away with blaming it on the moon instead of the boogie. But then what could I blame my stubbornness on, or my passive aggressive sharp tongue? Or the fact that I allow people to eclipse me when really I should be shooting passed them, light years away.
I guess the idea is that we all have some dark stuff that we keep in a dungeon, locked away and under control. Insecurities scuttle along the floors between cracks in the woodwork, hurts from our past permeate the air like a poison fog, hang ups and bang ups sit in the corner with our daily frustrations playing poker and smoking cigars. And yeah, sometimes they crack the code and pull a swift one, escaping the guard and menacing in our affairs. But maybe, like the moon, we can’t be a beautiful whole without some bits that we aren’t mad about. Maybe those dark creatures are there to give us strength in unconditional ways, to force our jaws open when all we want to do is keep them locked shut, unable to question, challenge or rock the boat. Maybe they are there to whisper in our ears that we still need to be cautious, do things differently and remember that pain has made us who we are today – capable, layered and connected. For all we know they have a one up on us, maybe they know that they are in charge of our vulnerability and that when defences do fail, the right people will be there to come to your rescue with an army of unconditional love.
That may be so… but this week, I’m pleading not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Stroh rum AND a full moon? Now if that isn’t mitigating circumstances, I don’t know what is.

Friday, 19 April 2013

28 Reasons to Smile

1.   The World Didn’t End Today
The sky is grey and the road is wet with that eerie post rain smell lingering just above it. I take a giant lung full of it in and leave the house with my lunchbox packed and my keys jingling with the last clinckety-clack in the lock. Traffic bunches and bends at its usual marks. The guy who stands on the corner of William Nicol and 2nd Avenue gives his daily plead and I, in turn give back a regretful headshake, hands clasped together. The 9 – 5ers do their thing. The world spins on its axis and hints at an approaching silvery winter, keeping the sun its hostage for a little more each day. Papers are bought and sold, cappuccino froth finds its way onto a white shirt and the musk of sameness and regularity is palpable. Nothing extraordinary is afoot. I look around and realize how comforting that is to me, in a strangely understated way. No bombs have gone off. My heart is intact and filled to the brim. I have a home, not a house. Going to work doesn’t induce my gag reflex, in fact, I’m secretly content. If I look carefully there are faint rainbows in between the clouds. Life is kind of neat.

2.   I Scored A Free Horlicks
That awkward moment, when you realize you have left your bank card at home AFTER your Horlicks has been made and it’s ready to go. Urrrr…. “It’s my birthday?” “In that case it’s on the house.”

3.   My Family Rocks
What a quirky, crazy, blindingly supportive, strange, brave, bold, unique, kind, splendiferous, MARVELOUS bunch. If I were ever hurt, they would throw rocks at the person responsible. Some real. Some subliminal. Some passive aggressive. Some symbolic. But you’d feel it.  Word.

4.   My Fringe Is Long Enough to be Styled Like A 1960’s Pornstar
I’ve missed my calling.

5.   The First Song I Heard Today Was Whigfeild – Saturday Night
Nothing like an old cheezy tune to brighten up your day.

6.   My Man is A Hottie
Goodness gracious, what a belter.

7.   My Little Garden
Against all odds, in a shady corner with hardly any sun, our little garden grows a teensy weensy bit every day. When I look at it, it makes me remember to keep on keeping on, even when the lights feel dim and the road dreary. The strong willed and kind hearted will survive, slowly and steadily.

8.   The Idea That Anything Could Happen
The unknown scares the shit out of me, always has. It’s right next to “change” on my phobia list… but being forced to be spontaneous and malleable because of the nature of my current universe has opened so many doors and introduced me to so many monumental people. Maybe the idea that anything could happen isn’t such a bad thing.
9.   It’s Friday
Nuff said. 

10. I Am Archiving A Vault Of Great Stories
When I’m an ouma, sitting on my stoep telling my grandkids stories… they will be spoilt for choice. Whether it’s a tall tale about that time when we drove to Durban on a whim, or that time when I first stood on stage, or the moment I truly felt like a grown up… Imagining the many more to come, makes me so excited.

11.  My Life Is Filled With Dreamers
Strange how things work…. I’m a doer in a garden of dreamers. The closest people in my life believe in the unbelievable, trust that everything will always be ok, and dare to let their minds wander into the most unlikely of places. I might not see the glass as half full all the time, but at least the people around me have made it a wacky glass, with a zillion colours, a flying circus, a glow in the dark function and a singing choir reprise for each sip. 

12. The Sweet Ain’t As Sweet Without The Bitter
So maybe I haven’t quite cracked a financial equilibrium. And yes, sometimes I do have miniature bank binges. But y’know what? It feels good to take ownership of my balance sheet. Every day of cent struggles makes the days when there’s a little extra fat for spending even more scrumptious. I appreciate things now, so much more than 5 years ago – like splurging on an expensive salmon steak for 1 or saving up for a mini holiday. 

13. It’s Only 253 Days, 12 Hours, 14 Minutes, 19 Seconds until OppiKoppi 2013
Bring on Bewilderbeast!

14. I’m In Love With My Best Friend
Every day is like a fun sleepover

15. I Genuinely Love Veggies
I don’t ever have to worry about getting my 5 fruits and veg in every day, it’s usually already done by Noon. I’m lucky to love veggies, I love their colour, I love the way they can fix you, I love the way they have a bunch of different colours and tastes, I love that you can grow them yourself. 

16.Cowboy Boots Have Made A Comeback
I want some. Immediately. I never stopped being a fan!

17.  Society Is Starting To Appreciate Curvy Woman
Das right – Adele, Melissa McCarthy, The Kardashians, Beyonce, Christina Hendricks… Guurrrls, you are doing it fo yo selves!

18. My Kid Sisters Are Growing Up
Into beautiful, smart, capable women!

19. I Never Have to do Matric Exams, or Take my Driver’s License Again.

20. I Can Officially Say That I’m A Writer
People pay me to make words come alive. That is totally awesome.

21. 30 Is The New 20
I’m not scared of 30 – My mom keeps telling me it’s the best I’ll ever look and feel. Sure gonna make for a depressing 39th birthday but for now I’m riding the wave. 

22. There Are So Many Places I’ve Yet To Explore
As I see more of the world, I just want to see even more! More culture, more delicious new foods, more colour, more music, more fashion, more poetry, more stars in more skies. 

23. I Make A Cracking Spinach And Cheese Scone
Not off by heart, but I’m yet to have a bad batch

24. There Is New Life Everywhere
My friends are having squishy cute babies, bringing pure hearts and new energy into the world. 

25. I’m Learning To Forgive And Let Go
When you wish badly of someone, the only one it affects is you. Aint nobody got time for that.

26. I’m A Jozi Girl
I love this city with all its madness and imperfections. Joburgers don’t faff, they don’t sip tea with their pinkies in the air, they work their asses off and they are gritty with realness. 

27. I Have My Health
I’m no superhero but I have 10 fingers and 10 toes and a long life ahead of me. So easy to take that for granted.
28. I’m Reckless, But So WhatScrew it – dance it out, overindulge, love with all your vulnerability, put all your eggs in one basket, push boundaries, press buttons, test waters, change and then change again, surprise yourself, challenge the norm and swim upstream.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Girls Justa Wanna Have Gluhwein

The first time I ever tasted Gluhwein is a surprisingly clear memory. It was in my second year at varsity and I was out on the town (7th Avenue Melville) for some wintery festivity. There was a party being hosted at my all-time favourite drinking hole, Unplugged, and a deliciously hot vat of Gluhwein was being mulled and served at the entrance. Hot wine? I thought, eugh no.  But the haunting warm aromas of cinnamon, aniseed, nutmeg and citrus wafted through the icy cold June air like a sweet song you hadn’t heard in ages. I had to try some.

I warmed my hands on the hot cup and sipped as little goose-bumps appeared on my ridiculously bare legs, hiding underneath a gypsy coat.  All I needed was for a snowflake to fall on my nose and it would have felt like Christmas in Germany or something. Since then, I have been a huge fan of the velvet burgundy winter drink and make a point of hosting a Gluhwein shindig every winter. If not twice, sluuuurp!

Gluhwein or mulled wine has a long history dating back to as far as 500B.C. Gluhwein actually translates to “Glow Wine”, probably because of its warming qualities. In the olden days, spices and herbs were added to wine for health reasons as well as to pimp the taste. Combinations of these spices as well as cooking methods varied depending on family and country tradition. I’m a sap for sentiment and love it when something has a history or a story.

There are a few ways you can make Gluhwein, I like to switch it up! The great part is that if you use spices to flavour the wine, you can really add whatever warming flavours you like. You could even visit Woollies and buy their ready-made Gluhwein in a bottle – all you have to do is heat it up. Bottle stores also supply a mix for you to add in your wine (powder or sometimes spices in a tea bag sort of apparatus) as it warms on the stove. Me? I love the process of building a sweet unique flavour, and having my home fill up with humming hues of heartfelt comfort.

This year I plan on trying Jamie Oliver’s recipe – he’s a no fail favourite chef of mine and he keeps things simple.  I like how he has incorporated bay leaves – I love sweet and savoury blends! Of course I’m going to put my own spin on things and just use whatever lovely red that catches my fancy on shopping day. Last year I stuck a bunch of cloves in orange wedges to add to the pot of wine and spices – suffice to say, a good time was had by all!

Jamie’s Mulled Wine


2 clementines
1 lemon
1 lime
200 g caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
2 star anise
2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine

Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you've got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I'm doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It's important to do make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you'll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it's warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

Now that we’re on the brink of winter, I think it’s a perfect time to start practising your Gluhwein concoction! Enjoy!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

One of the Boys

If you are someone who has a daily 8 o clock and 5 o clock affair with Joburg traffic, then you too will at some point subdue to the airwaves of commercial radio. Somewhere between Corlett and Athol Oaklands I was listening to one of the DJ’s talking about the Cuddle-Sutra. The first thing that came to mind was What a cool phrase, why did I not think of this first? And the next was Hmmm, cuddling – not every guy’s strong point.
There are some fundamental flaws in the cuddle system, unique to each snuggling couple. Her hair in your face, strained neck syndrome, Tyrannosaurus Rex arm (this is when your one arm is curled up with nowhere to go, leaving you looking like a spazzed Tyrannosaurus Rex), limb-o (when your legs are entwined and you have to keep adjusting them to get comfortable) and the controversial neck breath (when you or your partner inevitably has to breathe directly onto the other persons neck, where it ricochets and blows directly back onto your own face, causing you to inhale carbon dioxide).
But admit it or not, we KNOW that you boys secretly love to canoodle and cushy up. Why? Because there are also all those awesome little benefits like an automatic all access pass to boobs and bum, neck and ear kisses, delicious warmness (winter - tis the season for cuddles), accidental spooning naps, smooch-fests and… that word you believe could only come out of Dr Phil’s Family Matters book or something – Intimacy.
Rob Grader has brought out the book “The Cuddle Sutra” and here are some of the gems I found quite interesting.
Melting Butter
The Husband
Ticklish Delight
Interesting fact – you fella’s release a hormone called Prolactin after you orgasm, indicating the start of “recovery time” after sex. This is what makes you feel sleepy which sometimes eliminates your cuddle time, much to your better half’s disappointment. Girls don’t release this hormone, we don’t need recovery time (we are kind of amazing creatures aren’t we?) and we relish that little window of time we get to just hold you and feel the lurve. If you take a few minutes to give your lady the post coital closeness she craves, your brains will collectively release a chemical called Oxytocin making you feel happy and less stressed.
Moral of the story? Try some forking after forking, get your melted butter on and enjoy the ticklish delight of cuddling. You know you wanna!