Thursday, 26 August 2010

Yet another catch-up post

Where does time go? It whooshes past at great speed these days and leaves me a bit dizzy.

In the past while, here's what I've been up to:
  • Celebrated my birthday with dinner at Hedwig's restaurant. The food was amazing and the view spectacular. The service was sadly not so great. And neither is the loooong dirt road you have to navigate to get there. But I had a great evening with the family.
  • Got spoiled by the family. Money and garden vouchers have allowed me to dress my lawn and acquire some beautiful succulent plants to adorn the new braai area. My AWESOME new camera (Nikon D3000) from my folks has kept me busy in the few spare moments I have as I try to figure out how it works (very different to my old manual SLR and my little compact digital camera). I will start posting pics once I start taking decent ones ;-)
  • Went to rugby for the whole bloody Saturday. Seriously, we got to the stadium just after 1pm and the game only started at 5pm. And the Boks lost! But it was awesome to be inside FNB Stadium (if that is what Soccer City is now called. I can't keep up with all the name changes) and I enjoyed the game for the most part. Ran into Jeanette on the bus, which was a cool surprise.
  • Recorded my granddad's life story to write his memoirs. I still need more info, but I got a lot from him on Sun and Mon. Such a rich story!
  • Did Sunday lunch with the family. Will miss that so much when my folks move back to KZN next year.
  • Wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote for this ghostwriting project.
  • Had various client / prospective client meetings. Some were very interesting, some were less so.
  • Started serious prep for our Casino Royale themed formal dress games night joint birthday celebration thingey this Sat (if you're in Jhb and want to come along, mail me at doodlesofajourno at gmail dot com. Would love to see some of you lot IRL).
  • Got my bum into gear and finally started doing all the admin I've been avoiding (switching ADSL providers, getting our own PO Box (been using my folks' one for ages), letting all the relevant people know our postal address has changed, getting business cards set up etc. Not fun, but a great sense of accomplishment when it's all done.
  • Started planning all of TSC's bday surprises (his bday is 7 Sept). Now that's good fun ;-)
Today I'm at home all day, thankfully. I'm hoping to get lots of work done while our tiler finishes up the last snags outside and puts up the natural stone around our fireplace. Then we really are done with the home project for now.

What are all you fabulous people up to?

Friday, 20 August 2010

Lucky me (it's my bday and the house project is over. For now)

It's my birthday and I've already been spoiled. And it's not even 9am*. I have such cool family and friends, and I'm always surprised by the random people who remember my birthday.

TSC has made me feel like a princess (albeit not a very well groomed one - he woke me up at 5am to give me my presents. NOT a morning person). He spoiled me with two new types of bubble bath. I'm fussy about it - I don't like flowery stuff like Rose or Lavender. It must be spicy, fruity or chocolaty. He got it just right.

I also got the gorgeous bright pink memory foam slippers I wanted from Woolies, a stylish black handbag to replace my ancient and abused one that I bought years ago and the divine Neroli Jasmin eau de toilette from Body Shop.

Le pretty pink slippers...

Very spoilt!

Here, because I promised them to you, are some before, during and after shots of our recent house projects...

Veranda, before

Veranda, during

Veranda, after (with new tiles that don't show all the dirty little cat pawprints)...

Braai area with old, ugly paving removed...

Braai area with waterproofing and concrete-pouring complete...

Braai area, after. New tiles! Now I just have to tidy the area up and put in some pot plants and it will be beautiful.

The guest loo once TSC had removed our old, ugly basin with horrible leaky taps (what a flipping mission - the first replacement basin we bought had corners, which meant that in our pathetically designed guest loo, even though the basins were the same size, the door couldn't close past the corners. We had to swap the first new basin for a second one, and that required some serious plumbing ingenuity on TSC's part as the plug hole was in a different place).

The guest loo with the second new basin (and a mixer tap - no more leaky horrible hard-to-close monster taps. Yay!), the new towel and toilet-roll holders and new listellos (that border of tiles above the old ones). Visiting the guest loo is now a much happier experience ;-)

*Well, it wasn't even 9am, but Blogger took so bloody long to upload my photos!

Thursday, 19 August 2010


It's my birthday tomorrow. It feels like it sort of sneaked up on me this year. I can't believe it's already near the end of August! I'll be celebrating tomorrow evening at dinner with my parents, brother, TSC and my grandparents (who are here in Gauteng for this weekend's rugby). Will be fun!

The ghostwriting is going well. I am busy with chapter seven (of 10) and enjoying it, although it really does take up SO MUCH time. It's worked out well - TSC is busy with loads of tests now that class has resumed at UJ, so while he studies at night, I work. The trick is to find the time to unwind before bed, or we both can't sleep because we're still thinking about hydrology (in his case) or whether the last paragraph made sense (in my case).

I have a question about blog protocol (and please bear in mind that this is not specifically related to any particular blogger or post - it's something that I often wonder about)... How does one handle protected posts (you know, when a WordPress blogger writes a post that requires a password to read it)? I read quite a few bloggers who occasionally make use of protected posts, and I'm never sure what to do. Do you wait for the person to email you the password? And if they don't, do you assume you were never intended to read the post? Or do you email the blogger and ask for the password. Or is that pushy? And does it put the other person in a difficult spot if they don't want to give you the password?

Internet etiquette is complex!

Thought I'd leave you with this. Made me smile (pics from Inception):

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I got punk'd

Yesterday a friend of mine prank called me and he got me GOOD.

He phoned in a very camp voice and asked to verify that I was indeed Tamara *surname* of *my company's name* and said he'd been told I'm a good writer by an ad agency (very plausible - I work with a couple of agencies that are always handing my details out).

He needed someone to write an article for his organisation, Gay-4-a-Day, to place in a couple of magazines. The point, he explained, was to get straight people to adopt a gay person for a day and experience what it's like to be gay.

When I asked if he was serious, he told me he found my question very offensive. I apologised. He had me taking down fake email addresses for his organisation and giving him my details, and explaining that I'm currently at capacity but that I could recommend him to someone, before he EVENTUALLY told me he had received my email and wanted to chat about it

"What email? Who are you?" I asked, confused.
"It's *friend's name* he said and promptly dissolved into a fit of laughter.

He was brilliant. He should have his own radio show. I wish he'd recorded it.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Lots going on

Today I have not got much work done. TSC is home because some of the students are protesting at UJ. Yesterday his lecturers locked the students who were there to attend lectures (including TSC) into the building for their own safety while the protesters threw their weight around outside. The police eventually arrived with a water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse them.

They are protesting again today because the university has given them tomorrow as a deadline to pay their fees for this year (please note, it's nearly Sept and they haven't yet paid for 2010 studies). What drives TSC wild is that some of these students are just protesting with the others for the fun of it. In fact, one of the guys who tried to smash their classroom windows with a brick is employed part-time by the university while he studies, and he has a bursary to study. It makes me mad too, because it affects TSC and the other students who have paid and who are trying to attend class.

While he's at home, we have the guys here to pour the concrete to level the braai area (we've already ripped up the paving) and take the old, ugly tiles off the veranda. It's hard to work with the constant noise of digging, grinding, and (worst of all) the hammers knocking off the old tiles.

Yesterday TSC found out that a distant relation on his mom's side lost her 14-year old son to a horrible accident. He was knocked off his bicycle by a truck. His parents only found out about it once he was in ICU. He was declared brain dead and they had to switch off the life support. TSC hadn't met the kid, but his whole family's a bit shaken up. Such a horrible thing to happen, especially to someone so young.

My mom was the victim of a smash and grab last night. On her way home from the children's home where she volunteers, someone stuck a spark plug through the passenger window of her bakkie (pick up truck / utility vehicle) in Olifantsfontein and grabbed her handbag off the seat. She'd just taken her phone out and he demanded that too, but she threw it on the floor and he ran off.

Thankfully she's fine. My dad was very upset. They've reported the incident to the police and she spent today trying to get a temporary driver's licence.

The world seems to have gone a bit crazy. I'll be back when the noise and the drama cease for a bit.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The (not long enough) long weekend

I didn't get to craft, but I did get to garden.

Oh my goodness, I did enough gardening to leave my fingernails stuffed and my legs scratched for weeks to come.

It was great!

I pruned all the roses (about 15 bushes in total) and sealed them. Then I spent a couple of hours hacking at the giant St. Johns Wart in the back garden that obviously hasn't been pruned in years until it was reduced from a giant ball (my gardener tries to cut it into a lollipop shape despite my pleas) to a few piddly sticks that will now hopefully have room and sunshine to grow into a more natural shape. After that I trimmed the African Potato Bush plants and then hit a couple of nurseries to pick up some annuals for instant colour to draw the eye away from the pruned roses, as well as some organic fertilizer and snail bait, veggie seedlings and a new pair of fancy gardening gloves. I did some planting yesterday, but I have some more to do whenever I get a chance this week.

It was so good to be outside with the green things!

Aside from blitzing the garden and my fingers, we finally spent a bit of the money we made through hosting world cup guests. We bought tiles.

It feels very grown up and I'm sure it will bore everyone else to tears, but we spent a few hours in tile shops and found one at a great price that will be brilliant outside.

Yes, outside. We have rising damp on the side of the house where our braai area is, so we've decided to rip up the revolting old paving, fix the waterproofing issues and tile the area, as well as re-tiling our veranda while we're at it.

I'll take some before and after shots as we go to post here and maybe that will be more interesting that me writing about it ;-)

On Sat night we went for dinner with my folks at a place called Moo Moo in Brooklyn, Pretoria. It was divine. The menus are newspapers with a cow theme, so among the starters, mains, "whine" list and dessert menu are cow comics, cow jokes, beef facts and all sorts of interesting tidbits. The food was delicious, the service very good and the dessert (chocolate volcano) superb. The atmosphere was nice too, although dim lights meant that bits of the menu (black background with white print) were hard to read.

Sunday night was a potjie at our place with a few people we've met recently. It was good fun to get to know some new people, and TSC's potjie was as fabulous as ever. I made chocolate mud cake for dessert (thanks, Shayne - this recipe's still a hit) and we all enjoyed some lovely Inkspot red wine. Yum!

All in all, a lovely (if chaotic) weekend. Hope yours was too.

Friday, 6 August 2010


What is it about them that just saps one's motivation? I have SO much work to do, but all I feel like doing is getting stuck into my garden or doing something creative.

I think it's the fact that I just haven't had the time to do any of my crafts lately and it's making my soul itch. I want to pull out my beads and make some jewellery, finally get to work painting on the canvases that are waiting for me, mosaic the outdoor table I want to restore or even just make a couple of birthday cards. Anything will do!

I've been working into the evenings on this ghostwriting project and when I get time out, all I want to do is spend it with TSC vegging out with a DVD or doing something else that doesn't require me to think.

But I need to think - I need to think creatively. Creative thought is different to work mode thinking and I need it to keep me inspired and (semi) sane.

Thankfully this weekend is a long weekend (yay for Women's Day on Mon), and aside from some work and having a few friends around on Sunday eve, we have nothing planned.

So if I can just push through today with the work, I can reward myself with some craft time tomorrow.

Have a fab weekend.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Photo post

A couple of snaps from the past while...

The magnificent cupcakes Angel baked for her own wedding. Super yummy! My favourites are the ones with cream cheese icing.

The fabulous table decor at Angel and Glugster's wedding...

My brand new boots - an early piece of my birthday present from TSC that we picked up at the Meltz sale yesterday evening. I love them!

One of the things I LOVE about working at home... my two cats keeping me company in my study. It's very tempting though to lie down in the sunshine with them!

My Gran with some of the cupcakes I made for her belated 80th birthday lunch with the family.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Inception and a definition

We saw Inception last night. It was... like having my brain put in a jar and alternatively fed with shrooms and poked with a stick. What a mind-bending trip of epic proportions!

It is directed by Christopher Nolan, possibly my favourite director in the world (he is the genius responsible for Memento, The Prestige and Batman Begins. I see The Dark Knight as a minor blemish in his otherwise illustrious career to date).

And in true Nolan form, it's a movie that keeps you on your toes. Poor TSC thought we'd go see a movie to relax and said that his brain was working harder watching the film than if he'd been home doing his varsity assignments.

The cast is fantastic, with Leonardo DiCaprio proving once again that he is indeed a fine actor who should be remembered for his more recent roles rather than Titanic, along with Ellen Page (the chick from Juno), Ken Watanabe (you'll remember him from The Last Samurai, Batman Begins and Memoirs of a Geisha), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer and 10 Things I Hate About You) and the much underrated Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins and Red Eye).

But what made the film for me is how Nolan (and his very talented editor) managed to convey incredibly complex concepts (at some points you are watching a dream within a dream within a dream) without losing the audience.

I'm a fan of sci-fi that makes you think (not the run of the mill aliens invade the world stuff) and of well-crafted action movies (not the type that feature Arnie, Stallone or Seagal). This, for me, was the perfect mixture of the two.

This is one of those movies that I will watch again on DVD and hope to see the special features and making-of info.

Have any of you seen it? What were your thoughts? When people ask me what I think of it, I'm going to tell them I'll let them know when I've finished thinking of it.

A word of caution though - don't see this one before bedtime. Your mind will still be trying to fit all the puzzle pieces together.

Now, that definition...

I realised that many of you have no idea what I mean by "ghostwriting". Sorry about that. You know how every industry has its own jargon and TLAs (three-letter acronyms) and you kind of forget that they don't make sense to anyone else? That's what happened here.

To clear things up, here's what a ghostwriter is, courtesy of
A ghostwriter is a writer who writes on an assigned topic under someone else's name, with their consent. They often write books completely from scratch but sometimes their work involves rewriting or polishing an existing work.

Most books by famous personalities are actually written by ghostwriters. When you see an autobiography or memoir from a politician, businessperson, or celebrity, chances are that it has been written by a ghostwriter.

A client may decide to hire a ghostwriter because the client does not have any writing talent or because they are too busy. Ghostwriters, for their part, are usually well-established writers already, and are selected on that basis.

What Do Ghostwriters Write?

Ghostwriters are hired to write many types of documents, from autobiographies for famous personalities to e-books for internet marketing gurus, and even letters for politicians.

They also write fiction. Sometimes it is for a series of books written by several ghostwriters under one name, as with the stories of Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys. Ghostwriters also continue to write novels under the name of popular authors who have died, as in the case of Robert Ludlum.

There. Now I can pretend that this blog is educational, and not just an arbitrary selection of my crazy thoughts!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Spring is coming!

I can barely contain my excitement at this fact. The trees are pushing out green shoots, birds are nesting and the first blossoms have been spotted. This all means one thing: winter is on its way out. Hooray!

We were at church camp in the Magaliesburg this weekend past and it was flipping cold. Great fun, but too cold for my liking. I must admit though, that the food and rooms were better than I expected. Camp seems to have come a long way since my high school days.

I got to do an obstacle course, which I haven't done in years, so that way fun. I have new respect for the people on Ninja Warrior.

On Sunday we celebrated my gran's 80th birthday. Shame, it was actually on 20 June, but she was so sick and my folks were overseas, so we pretended it was yesterday. My uncle flew in from Kuwait to surprise her and my other uncle and his wife drove in from Middelburg and the usual fun and games ensued. I think poor TSC has finally learnt to cope with my family's below-the-belt sense of humour.

Other than that, life is crazy busy. I've had to turn down a few writing projects because ghostwriting this book seems to have eaten ALL my time. It's 10 chapters long and I've just completed the second chapter, but I feel like I have done nothing else since I started. In fact, I probably have done nothing else since I started. Must remember to do the work for my other clients!

I hate turning down work, because it means turning down good money and some interesting projects, but I am (slowly) learning to be realistic about what I can and can't do. I'm working late nights as is, so unless I want to kiss my marriage and social life goodbye, I have to learn to say 'no' sometimes.

I'm rambling, I know. But I have missed blogging so much. Almost as much as I've missed reading everyone else's blogs.

Anyway, back to the books for me. Chapter three beckons.

PS: I know I've been a bad blogger, but if you still love me and you feel like it, please consider nominating me for the SA blog awards by clicking on that widget in the sidebar. Thanks.