Wednesday, 31 March 2010
I immediately felt more clear-headed and able to put in a few more hours work. I made sure I stopped by 8pm and then TSC and I had fun making our own filled Easter eggs. I find any type of crafting or cooking very therapeutic and it's always fun when someone else is involved. We chatted and tasted the melted chocolate and discussed what other fillings we should use. It was exactly what we needed. I'll try to take some photos of the choccies this week and put them up here.
I feel like Easter has kind of snuck up on me this year. Usually I'm quite organised about it and my craft cupboard would already be stacked with neatly wrapped Easter bundles by this stage. But I actually keep forgetting that Easter is this weekend because it seems too soon. The year has been so insanely busy and a tad stressful and my brain is having difficulty accepting the fact that we're already a quarter of the way through 2010.
Still, this time last year (I LOVE having a blog to go back and reference what happened a year ago) TSC and I were both miserably sick with flu, so I am in a better place than I was then. And although last year I was bleak that we couldn't afford to go away for the Easter long weekend, this year I am looking forward to being able to chill at home.
But to do that I will need to wade through the daunting pile of work on my work and home desks right now. Better get started!
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
I did, however, against all odds manage to get everything done that I needed to do yesterday - finished the last bits and bobs of work on a client project, attended yet another Makro meeting, celebrated TSC's first 100% score on a test, wrote and submitted my longest assignment for my writing course and made it to bed just before midnight. Then up early this morning to listen to the Makro interview on John Robbie's show at 6.40.
I'm not thinking in a straight line though. I slept terribly last night, with dreams of my computer crashing and then of having my legs amuptated by a mad person with a chainsaw. Not fun. My subconscious is freaky.
I'm useless when I haven't had enough sleep and so far I've managed to forget my lunch at home, put the wrong phone number on a press release and send it out to the media (sooo professional), send emails with incorrect attachments and stare at the same sentence for 10 minutes without understanding it.
I think a night off is in order.
Right, have to go and see if I can find a stale rusk or two for lunch.
Monday, 29 March 2010
Sunday's early F1 race was also fabulous. It rained, which always makes for an eventful Grand Prix. It was gripping from the first lap to the last - the total opposite of the Bahrain GP two weeks ago.
Then yesterday I worked like a fiend to finish off some web copy for a client and we were on ushering duty at church.
What have I forgotten? I seemt o remember doing something less frenetic somewhere along the line... Oh ja... Saw Shutter Island on Friday night, in between painting protest posters.
It was good. I guessed the main supposed twist in the tale, but there was another twist to make up for it. The acting was impressive and it's certainly suspense-filled, but it felt very long, I must admit. That said, it was probably the most enjoyable Martin Scorsese film I've ever seen. I've disliked most of the others, including all the so-called "classics". Bite me.
Hope everyone else had a good weekend and that the four-day week ahead is awesome.
Friday, 26 March 2010
How cute are the little cricket bat and ball decorations? Gotta love Kadies!
My piping bag broke in the middle of icing this lot. It was 10.30pm on a Friday night and the cupcakes were being picked up the next morning, so a plan had to be made. I took a little plastic sandwich bag, cut a hole in the corner, stuck my piping nozzle in the bag and finished the job just fine.
I would love a snazzy, proper piping set though. But I can't justify the expense (they range from R160 to R450 for the good sets) right now. I have other things to pay for, like putting new heels on my overworked winter work shoes before the cold weather arrives.
What's everyone up to this weekend? I'll be doing a big writing assignment, watching STOMP! (can't wait, even though I saw it a few years ago - best show ever), switching off lights for Earth Hour and watching the Australian F1 Grand Prix . Bring it on!
Have a good one.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
In honour of my bro on his birthday, here are 10 things I love about him:
- He gives amazing hugs.
- He's incredibly loyal.
- He shares my twisted sense of humour.
- Although we fight like cat and dog, I know that if someone else were to threaten me, he'd have my back.
- He's a very good teacher (he has given me a squash lesson or two and has helped TSC with maths).
- He believes in me (despite not having read much of my work, he tells me I'm a good writer).
- He lets me call him Schmee.
- If I ask him to, he will generally give me a hand with whatever I need - whether it's carrying something heavy or procuring the latest series of How I Met Your Mother.
- Although he's allergic to cats, he loves them and he will get down on the floor to play with my Marble and Sapphire. It's cute.
- He makes an effort to get along with TSC and I love to listen to them chatting about cars or engineering together.
Friday, 19 March 2010
Apparently, the following terms are also protected by law and may result in legal action from FIFA if your business uses them for promotional purposes:
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
2010 FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
2010 World Cup
World Cup 2010
South Africa 2010 or SA 2010 or ZA 2010
2010 South Africa
Football World Cup
Soccer World Cup
I'm sorry, but I think it's crazy that "2010 South Africa" is not allowed! What if you sell SA wildlife calendars? In fact, FIFA has been given exclusive rights to the word "2010" in South Africa. Bizarre. I've never heard of anyone being awarded rights to a year before.
FIFA seems to have taken ownership of the use of our national flag, depictions of vuvuzelas and any mention of soccer too. Sorry to everyone who's paid to be a sponsor of the Premier Soccer League - you probably won't be allowed to advertise your involvement with the sport that must not be named.
Strange, when to date the general understanding has been that ads referencing general football terms and imagery are ok as long as they don't make use of the FIFA and World Cup trademarks and symbols.
I understand that FIFA is protecting the rights of its commercial partners and all the rest, but am I the only one that thinks this is a bit OTT?
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
I hope you all have a grand day filled with leprechauns and green beer (if you drink enough of the latter, the former is quite likely).And here, in honour of the day, are some wee Oirish jokes fer ya:
An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman were reading a newspaper article about which nationalities' brains were for sale for transplant purposes. An Irishman's or a Scotsman's brain could be bought for £500 but an Englishman's brain cost £10,000. That proves,' said The Englishman, 'that Englishmen are much cleverer than Irishmen or Scotsmen.' 'No it doesn't,' said The Irishman, 'it just means that an Englishman's brain has never been used.'
Joey-Jim was tooling along the road one fine day when the local policeman, a friend of his, pulled him over. "What's wrong, Seamus?" Joey-Jim asked. "Well didn't ya know, Joey-Jim, that your wife fell out of the car about five miles back?" said Seamus. "Ah, praise the Almighty!" he replied with relief. "I thought I'd gone deaf!"
Two Irishmen, Patrick & Michael, were adrift in a lifeboat following a dramatic escape from a burning freighter. While rummaging through the boat's provisions, Patrick stumbled across an old lamp. Secretly hoping that a genie would appear, he rubbed the lamp vigorously To the amazement of Patrick, a genie came forth. This particular genie, however, stated that he could only deliver one wish, not the standard three. Without giving much thought to the matter, Patrick blurted out, "Make the entire ocean into Guinness Beer!" The genie clapped his hands with a deafening crash, and immediately the entire sea turned into the finest brew ever sampled by mortals. Simultaneously, the genie vanished. Only the gentle lapping of Guinness on the hull broke the stillness as the two men considered their circumstances. Michael looked disgustedly at Patrick whose wish had been granted. After a long, tension-filled moment, he spoke: "Nice going Patrick! Now we're going to have to pee in the boat!
And to end, an Irish blessing for you all:
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
This morning's first call was a cupcake order. Apparently I bake and sell cupcakes now. This was a friend who was at Roo's birthday party and liked the cupcakes I made. She's ordering a batch for her engagement (it's a big family event as a Muslim) to give to her fiance. So this weekend I'll be baking "boy" cupcakes.
The second call (and two more after that) was from one of the members of our neighbourhood committee that's fighting this development. Seeing it's now such a massive part of my life, I might as well explain what I've been on about. Makro wants to open a 20 000 square metre shop on the border of the development where I live. For those of you who don't know, Makro is a sort of warehouse store where you can buy in bulk, everything from booze to toilet paper or catering equipment. This will wreck our whole suburb if it comes about. All other Makros are built in commercial or industrial zones and I think it's outrageous that the company thinks it's ok to put their huge eyesore of a warehouse next to our homes. So the calls coming through this morning were about some of the campaigns we've embarked on to publicise the issue. More on that another time.
The third call was from my "big boss" at the first job I ever worked, let's call her Tannie. I was the junior copy writer for a small ad agency in Cape Town and she was the sort of top director person. I adored her (while I was totally terrified of the woman I reported to, who was between me and Tannie), but didn't get to know her very well as I was only there for four months before TSC and I relocated to Johannesburg.
She called this morning to say I should expect another call - she's been asked for a recommendation on a writer and she's given the person my details. I was so touched! I mean, I haven't seen her in a good few years and I only worked for her company for those four months, so it was incredible that she thought of me. She says she told this other person, "You can't go wrong with Tamara."
Wow. Such a confidence boost. I've since chatted to this other person and her project sounds very interesting, so we'll see where that ends up.
It gives me hope that there are people out there who are willing to give you a leg-up even when it benefits them nothing. Aside from the fact that the day has been spent on the phone, it's been pretty good so far.
Monday, 15 March 2010
If it wasn't for the moths it would've been perfect. I hate the moths.
Let me explain... We have a pantry in our kitchen that attracts moths like Malema attracts news headlines. They are prolific. And they get into everything! I have found the little blighters and their revolting white worm offspring in my Tupperware containers, inside packets that have been sealed with packaging tape, inside boxes that have yet to be opened and even behind labels on tins and bottles.
They give me the creeps and there seems to be nothing I can do about them!
Every few months I clean out the whole damn pantry. This involves taking out everything - tins, boxes, containers, spices etc. I blitz the tiny room with almost a full can of bug-zapping insect killer. Then I wipe down each and every item, sitting on my kitchen floor, checking for moths and worms and chucking out anything where I can see evidence of these intruders. I hate doing this because it is a phenomenal waste of money (nevermind being a disgusting and time-consuming exercise).
Then I pack whatever's left of our supplies (usually a few lonely tins stripped of their moth-infested labels with my handwritten notes in permanent ink, some onions, sachets of cat food and the icing sugar, which for some reason they don't like) into plastic containers with lids. In theory, this means that if I've missed a moth or worm or eggs in the macaroni packet, the evil bugs will only be able to ruin the pasta and not everything else.
I then wipe down the shelves with a cloth dipped in bleach, replace the newspaper lining on each shelf and put down little containers filled with mothballs. The moths find this hilarious. They demonstrate their lack of respect for me and my kitchen stock by laying their eggs on top of the moth balls.
When we use anything to cook with, we check for moths. We sieve our hot chocolate, rinse our rice (bugs float) and store our flour and mielie meal in the freezer. We are even more careful when serving guests. We once found worms in a box of previously unopened, sticky-taped closed Ferrero Rocher luxury chocolates that we were going to serve with coffee.
I have tried not using the light in the pantry for a few weeks. We still got moths. I tried not ever turning the light off. We still got moths.
Apart from spraying everything with Doom and poisoning ourselves along with them, I don't know what more to do.
Where do they come from? And why do they love my pantry so? How can I get rid of these horrible bugs?
Friday, 12 March 2010
This is her big idea. But before she starts pitching it, she'd like to gauge interest. So, what do you folks think? Would it work? Would you be keen? Do you think it's a good idea or too in-your-face?
I'm going to print out the comments I get for her feedback, so let's hear it.
Have a good weekend!
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Imagine that you're having a discussion with a client who is taking six years to tell you the same story he told you yesterday. Your mind wanders and you run through what you need to do before your big meeting this afternoon. "Call Susan and arrange a projector. Print out four copies of the contract. Make sure you don't seat Clive next to Deon because they'll start talking about rubgy and we'll never get anything done."
Of course, by the time your conversation has concluded, you'll have forgotten all of these things. But if you had a thought recorder, you could have taken notes without your client even knowing. This magical machine could be a small earpiece - inobtrusive and hardly noticeable. And it could have the capability, like modern voice recorders, to be plugged straight into your computer. That way you could download your thoughts and save them to the relevant file. The recorder would, of course, have "password protect" capability (you would only be able to access the files by thinking of the password) and be able to transcribe thoughts into picture or text files.
Imagine - all those blog posts you think of late at night might actually get published!
Monday, 8 March 2010
I don't feel like being at work today.
I'd rather be continuing with my lovely weekend, which, after a surprisingly good business meeting with a new client, kicked off with dinner with fabulous friends on Friday at our place. We've decided to do a regular super club with these two couples, T&R and B&M, and it was our first turn to host. After the crudites, I served my red Thai chicken curry with glass noodles and roasted pumpkin from the garden. Dessert was my white chocolate tart topped with blueberries and strawberries. Forgot to take a pic, but it was pretty.
We enjoyed a bottle of red wine, easy conversation and then coffee and chocolates before they left, still at a fairly reasonable hour as T was working the next day. What I love about these friends is that we can see each other once a month and just pick up where we left off. We all have vastly different interests (T&R are serious touch rugby players while B&M are chess champions), but we get along so well.
On Saturday, TSC and I did our volunteer training at Kitty Haven. I love being surrounded by the affectionate cats and dogs. One cat, Forrest Gump, is blind in one eye and has a neurological disorder that makes him walk very strangely so that he looks spastic. But he is the sweetest cat and threw himself on my lap for a cuddle and a bellyrub while we listened to the volunteer coordinator explaining how things work. He was most put out when I had to get up for the sanctuary walk-through.
We followed the training with brunch at Grand Central Cafe again. And it was just as brilliant as last time. So often I find that I enjoy my experience at a restuarant and then the next time I'm there it disappoints me. Not so here. It was great. And their homemade lemonade is divine.
We went through to Pretoria to see my folks. My mom seems to be ok. We all, including my brother (who was actually quite charming for a change - he normally reserves that side of him for his mates), went out for supper at the cutest restaurant in Hazelwood, Boston Deli Kitchen.
It's so quirky, with a shop selling random jewellery and clothes, as well as relishes, jams and sweet treats, all inside the restaurant. Menus are Afrikaans literature books that have the actual menu pages glued onto certain pages. There's a pay-by-weight carvery too. The food was great. I had duck confit and my brother had a lamb mint pie. But the best bit was the desserts! Brownies, deep-fried nougat and Cointreau creme brulee, among others. Yum! It was a good evening of laughing and chatting.
On Sunday, while TSC studied, I popped into HobbyX. I'm not a fan of expos because there are just too many people pushing through the stands. But it's alsways worth going to HobbyX to stock up on craft equipment. I got some beautiful embossed, glittered, flocked and handmade papers from Paper World (the main reason I go to HobbyX), as well as loads of scrapbooking bits and bobs that I use to make cards. I behaved myself and stayed away from the mosaic stands (where I could easily spend my entire salary), but also bought more chocolate moulds (don't know what happened to all of mine) so that I can make my own Easter eggs this year.
Then it was back home to prep for today's round of interviews for a magazine commission I'm busy with, and to quickly write the newsletter for our complex.
It was a good weekend in all. I even got to swim, ever so briefly. This week looks like it may be ever so slightly less manic than last week, which would be brilliant.
PS: Congratulations to Meriel on her marriage. She is a special, special lady and I wish her much happiness.
PPS: What do you think about the change in colour / style here?
Friday, 5 March 2010
It's the weeeekend, baby!
Thanks goodness. I don't think I could take another day of this week. But this weekend will be filled with good things. We're having friends for supper tonight, tomorrow we're heading to Kitty Haven for volunteer training and then we're going to see my folks so that I can make sure with my own eyes that my mother really is ok. In between I'm hoping to sleep, read and write. And hopefully that works out better than last weekend.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Thursday, 4 March 2010
My mother is possibly the reason I don't like to expose my vulnerability to people in person (for some reason, I seem absolutely fine to broadcast it on the internet where random strangers and my father, who may be lurking here right now, can read it). The woman is a trojan. She's been sick the past while with cystitis. Antibiotics didn't seem to help. But yesterday when we spoke on the phone, she told me the infection had spread to her kidneys and she'd been to hospital the day before to get a stronger antibiotic, be put on a drip and get herself sorted out. I was gobsmacked. She hadn't said a word until I pressed her about her health. I was ready to rush out to their place and play Florence Nightingale, but she said she was "fine" and that at least she was feeling better than she had the day before.
My dad doesn't know how to handle my mom being ill. Maybe it's because she's a doctor and when she was still practising she developed an amazing immune system from being around bugs all day every day. She hardly ever got sick. And when she is sick, she doesn't seem to demand sympathy like most of us. She just carries on, and, if necessary, puts herself to bed for a day or so until she's feeling better. But she no longer works as a doctor and her immune system isn't as impenetrable as it used to be. She works with a children's home and sometimes picks up bugs from the kids there, or from one of the family if we're sick. My dad worries a lot while she's sick, perhaps because she's so independent about it, and frets until he's sure she's better. It's very sweet, really. He can be a total hardass at work, but he's tender as a lamb with my mom (hehe, hope you're enjoying this, Dad. Seeing you won't let me blog about certain other things. TLL).
On a totally different and even more random topic, don't ever buy "Budget Russian" sausages from PnP. I made Jambalaya last night and TSC managed somehow to convince me that the usual sausages I buy are too expensive and that with all the spices and herbs I use in the dish, we wouldn't even notice the difference if we replaced them with the cheapie Russians.
Ugh. We did notice. Never again. Sausages are fairly gross in the first place (made with the sweepings of the abattoir floor, I tell you), but Budget Russians are just plain disgusting. And orange. That should've told us. There's not much scarier than a tanned sausage. Except maybe a dancing sausage with an Afro.
This sausage incident once again demonstrated to me the value of doing the grocery shopping without TSC. Because if he's with me, it's somehow not acceptable to buy the normal supposedly pricey sausages, but absolutely fine to fill up my trolley with other arbitrary expenses, like Lunchbar chocolates ("but they're on special!"), which due to their strange advertising tactics always remind me of short, black Scottish men in skirts. Or huge bottles of orange juice (he reckons that "we both drink it!" suffices as an explanation).
Now here's something I am glad they don't tell in our local PnP, because I would never be able to pass up on the chance to buy these beauties:
Prettiest cupcakes ever!
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
I worked till late last night to finish a piece I'm doing for a magazine. This publication always gives me insane deadlines. But they pay well. This time, they couldn't find the contact details for the person they wanted me to interview, so I only managed to get hold of him on the day of the original deadline. Eventually we set up an interview (4pm on Monday afternoon). He was 30 minutes late and so I only finished at about 5.30 and had to hang about on the other side of town until traffic subsided slightly. Seeing the piece goes to print on Friday, I had to get it to the interviewee today to give him approval time. That meant that I only had yesterday to write the 2100 words I was commissioned to do.
Normally that wouldn't be a problem. I write fast. But, this article is incredibly technical and I lack the specialised vocabulary to explain certain processes, so it took me ages. I was still impressed with myself for getting it done, I must admit. But, true to form, because my brain was in work mode, I could not fall asleep.
And when I eventually did nod off in the wee small hours of the morning, I had weird dreams about my editor turning into my writing course teacher and then giving me awful feedback and making me rewrite the whole article today. In between there were also some strange dreams about the work I have to review written by other students on the course, and about the megastore that plans to build on our boundary wall.
I don't think I will ever grow out of the habit of dealing with whatever is bothering my psyche through odd dreams.
Today I feel and look like a zombie. Thankfully I don't have any business meetings today. I reckon people would assume I have a serious drug habit because of my red eyes.
Off to go do my reviewing now. Hopefully it doesn't give me more nightmares tonight ;-)
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Monday, 1 March 2010
- When booking a weekend away next time, it would be wise to check whether it's a mid-term break for schools or not. Holiday spots are busy during mid-term breaks.
- My GPS, Gloria, does not know everything. Sometimes she is a spiteful cow and makes us drive in circles.
- You can be all set up in your nice allocated campsite next to good people and thinking life is grand only to have it ruined by a car full of revolting, noisy, drunken, loud, epically foul-mouthed brats who pitch their tent next to yours and play rubbish music at full volume until 3am.
- Talking to such brats will only result in quiet for 30minutes after the conversation. Then, magically, they will forget everything you've said and continue as before.
- People who don't know how to behave in public should not be allowed out. Especially people who think it's ok to leave dirty diapers lying on the lawn next to the swimming pool when they leave.
- I am only a people person when I am surrounded by pleasant people. Otherwise, I am very intolerant.
- Rules without consequences are only good advice. And not likely to be followed by Joe Public.
- Moving your tent to the opposite end of camp, far away from all amenitites and other people, may secure you the peace and quiet you have been craving. Good red wine also helps.
- TSC and I can have fun together despite imperfect conditions.
- There are few things in the world as refreshing as ice cold, homemade gingerbeer from a farm stall.
- I can cook a mean red curry on a camp stove.
- I love my home. It is the first place since we've been married where TSC and I have had our own garden and not shared bedroom walls with someone else. It is very, very precious to me and I love heading home after being away, even just for two days.
- If I am writing and I am in "the zone", I do not like to be interrupted, even by my darling TSC. It is difficult to pick up where I left off after being distracted.
- I may write better poetry when I am miserable, but my fiction comes more easily when I'm happy. Go figure.
- It is important to set boundaries and to say 'no' to people. I will probably need to learn this lesson over and over again.