Monday, 26 July 2010

(very) brief update

In bullet format:

  • I have been sick
  • I am better now
  • But I still sound like a drag queen
  • Work is crazy - busy ghostwriting a book for a client on a crazy deadline
  • Angel and Neel's wedding was DIVINE (and possibly the biggest blogging community event / Tweet-up in the country)
  • Bloggers are always an interesting bunch to hang out with IRL
  • We are (belatedly) celebrating my gran's 80th birthday with the family on Sunday
  • We have had no water today
  • Am craving a bath
  • I'm very behind on blog-reading and will attempt to catch up soonest.
That is all.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Writing this from my bed

Don't be too jealous. I have confined myself to bed to try to get better before I really get sick. I have a horrid sore throat, throbbing headache and blocked ears, so it's lots of Med-Lemon for me, a scarf around my neck and an afternoon of trying not to let the laptop overheat on the bed covers while I work.

Seems to be working so far. Orange Strepsils (brand of throat lozenges) are awesome. So are lazy cats who keep me company and leftovers from last night's oxtail stew. Yum!

Less awesome is the fact that work needs to be done and I can't just spend the afternoon sleeping the sickness away.

It also feels a bit weird to be in bed without requiring a doctor's note for the boss. I almost feel guilty for not having permission to be sick ;-)

Monday, 19 July 2010

Realisation and a recipe

You know what I realised last night?

I don't get that heavy Sunday afternoon depression anymore because I don't have to face the PR job on the Monday morning. That's a very cool little piece of enlightenment for me.

It helps especially on weekends that have been really hectic and that just fly by, like this one. We had friends over for supper on Friday night, then another load of people to watch the (so-called) rugby on Saturday morning with a braai afterwards (which meant two sets of catering within the space of 24 hours). On Sunday we saw my folks for breakfast and then had a church meeting at lunch and then we were on duty at church from 5pm and did coffee with friends after that.

So much for a chilled first weekend without hosting World Cup guests!

When things are busy, it's funny how there are always precious little "ordinary" moments that stand out as highlights... sharing jokes with my parents, seeing everyone enjoying both puddings I made for Fri and Sat (chilled lemon cheesecake and chocolate marshmallow tart), watching a brilliant episode of Hustle with TSC and even realising that the lettuce from my garden tastes infinitely better than the lettuce from the supermarket (especially seeing all my lettuce-growing attempts before this have been dismal failures). I love little things like that.

Here's the recipe for the chocolate marshmallow tart. I think it originally came off the back of a Romany Creams box, but I lost the actual recipe years ago and now make up my version from memory...

Chocolate marshmallow goodness:
  • 1 packet Romany Creams or similar biscuits
  • 250 ml cream
  • 1 packet marshmallows
  • 75g melted butter
  • 200g milk chocolate
Crush Romany Creams (I use a stick blender). Mix with melted butter and press into a tart tin to make crust. Melt the chocolate with the cream on medium heat. Stir until smooth. Add marshmallows and stir until they melt into the chocolate mixture. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes. Pour chocolate mixture over crust. Refrigerate for a few hours until set. Decorate with grated chocolate or a light dusting of icing sugar with a sliced strawberry in the middle.


Friday, 16 July 2010

Go away, winter

Sorry, DBAWIW, but this is indeed going to be a long weather ramble to the tune of "Jissis, it's cold!"

I'm so over this cold. At the moment I am sitting at my computer with my hot beanie thing on my lap with my cat sitting on top of it. This makes typing really difficult. Normally I would type for a bit, then warm my freezing fingers on the beanie and then type some more. Now it's become a delicate balancing act of trying to get my fingers to the beanie under the sleeping cat, who is starting to cut off blood supply to my legs. As Momcat wrote the other day, "I'm not just a glorified cat pillow!"


I really am over the cold. I once wrote a post about things I like about winter, which was a concerted effort to find good things about the cold season. I read it this morning to remind myself of those things. But I am tired of winter now. Bring on spring!

I think the cold surprised a lot of our World Cup guests, who were expecting to find sunny South Africa nice and hot. In fact, one of our guests (from New York), said that her low point of her month in SA was the cold. New York may get far colder than Joburg, but The Big Apple is also far more prepared for that cold.

Ok, enough moaning. I am going to chuck the cat off my lap now and make myself a mug of tea to warm my hands.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Unimportant but interesting cultural lessons

It feels so good to be posting regularly again and getting all the nonsense in my head out onto the screen. *grin*

After all my "did you know" facts yesterday, I discovered something I didn't know, courtesy of our current guest, Ana.

Most Americans don't have electric kettles.

I had no idea! I don't know how I would survive without my kettle, especially during winter. For those of you who don't know what an electric kettle is... a pic or two:

Most South African households have an electric kettle in the kitchen. As we generally have electric stoves as opposed to gas ones, kettles heat up our water for tea or coffee more economically and much faster than boiling water on the stove. They are super useful things - aside from making tea, coffee, hot chocolate and Milo, I use mine to heat the water for pasta to boiling before I pour it into the pot on the stove, which makes it much quicker, or I boil the water for my hot water bottle, which I carry around the house with me in winter, seeing almost no South African home has central heating.

Anyway, I was just gobsmacked when Ana came to me and said, "I really like these tea water warmer things you have in South Africa. I'm thinking of taking one home with me."

Most Americans seem to have coffee percolators, and many of our guests have never seen a plunger / bodem before, which we use to make coffee. Pic:

I've learnt lots about our little cultural differences this World Cup. It's been good fun. For exmaple, I learnt that in Malaysia, it's common to add "La" at the end of a sentence as a space-filler. So you might stay, "Don't be like that, la."I think that's nearly as weird as the fact that we South Africans call traffic lights "robots" ;-)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Did you know?

Some random trivia from the huge files of nonsense in my brain...

  • Tanzanite was originally called "blue Ziosite", but the name was changed to Tanzanite for the stone's origin on a recommendation from Tiffany's as it was felt that the word "Zoisite" was very close to the word "suicide".
  • My name, Tamara, means palm tree in Hebrew.
  • You have approximately 10 000 tastebuds on your tongue.
  • The medical word for "man boobs" is gynecomastia.
  • In Japan, sushi chefs spend their first year of training purely on hygiene.
So did you know that?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Catch up post

Hello all. Life is slowly starting to return to some semblance of normality, whatever that may be.

The World Cup, glorious as it was, is over. We only have one guest left - a lovely girl from New York, who is set to leave on Thursday. TSC is back at varsity. And I, after what feels like forever, am back at my computer, doing some admin catch up and actually writing a blog post.

Well, trying to, anyway. I started writing this about an hour ago, but I keep getting distracted by emails coming in and the cats trying to sleep on my laptop.

Anyway, here are a few photos from the past few weeks:

The waterfall at Rustenburg Kloof, where TSC and I hiked for a picnic lunch when we took the Mexicans to their Rustenburg game. Such a divine day - lunch with a view, tennis and then watching SA beat France.

A maribou stork trying to relieve TSC of his gingerbeer at the Rhino and Lion Park during our visit there with the Malaysians. This bird is really playful, but really ugly. When we arrived, it was trying to play with the spotted genets through the fence.

Lazy wild dogs having an afternoon nap at the Rhino and Lion Park. This was the closest we've seen them and the Malaysians were super excited.

The world literacy display at Maropeng, where we took the Mexicans. I must say, it was wasted on them - they didn't bother to stop and read anything. Everyone told us how brilliant Maropeng is, but I must admit, I wasn't particularly wowed.

A 6 month-old Nile crocodile at Croc City. What a waste of time that was. We took the Chinese Canadians there and after a promising start looking at and holding various reptiles inside, which was great fun and very informative, we were led on a tour that took less than 10minutes and then waited nearly an hour for our hot chocolate (which was cold) and an expensive crocodile sosatie from the restaurant. They also have an animal petting area with some bunnies in very poor shape (the only water source is a dirty plastic container sunk partway into the ground, filled with brown water and bits of hay). I suspect that weekends, when they feed the crocs, would be more interesting, but I won't take visitors there again.

The penalty shoot-out (the first of the World Cup) between Japan and Paraguay. It was an exciting match.

Thursday, 8 July 2010


Our bush getaway to Sondela was phenomenal. It's difficult to find the words to explain how much we enjoyed our time there. Squeals work best, I find.

We were at the magnificent Sondela Country House near Bela-Bela / Warmbaths for three magical nights. It's a five-star boutique hotel, but they had the most fantastic winter special on that meant it was more affordable than many three-star hotels.

In our few days there, I experienced many "firsts":
  • First time milking a cow;
  • Having butler service (something to get used to, actually - it's a bit weird having someone just waiting around to do what you ask. We weren't very good at it);
  • Going on a proper night drive (where I got to hold the spotlight);
  • Seeing a bushbaby in the wild, jumping from tree to tree;
  • Having a three-course gourmet meal served in our hotel room;
  • Going on a "game drive" on bicycles (awesome!);
  • Seeing a crimson-breasted shrike in the wild;
  • Playing tennis while nyala watched;
  • Being asked whether I wanted a goose down, duck down or feather pillow (?! I told them to surprise me. Have no idea which one I got in the end, but it was really comfortable);
  • Having our car washed before we checked out, just as part of what they do for guests.
The attention to detail and level of service were mind-blowing - filter coffee in the rooms as opposed to the mix-n-drink stuff, a heated towel rack in the bathroom, Charlotte Rhys toiletries...

It was so good to be guests rather than hosts for a little while. The place is brilliantly maintained, has a great variety of facilities and, best of all, it's only an hour and a half away and it's warm!

I will attempt to stop gushing now, so here are some pics...

Me, milking a very patient cow:

Our King-sized bed:

The tame kudu doe that wanders around the property:

Very inquisitive mongoose:

The chalets also look brilliant - very private, in the middle of the bush, with a hot spa pool, col swimming pool, tennis courts and entertainment area. In fact, even the campsite looked really nice - shady, quiet and small.

I think we'll have to go back and try each ;-)

Ok, the gushing is really over now, I promise.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

One month down...

...Just one more set of guests to go.

But first a breather. We leave tomorrow for a little break before our last guests arrive on Thursday. CANNOT WAIT to chill and be a guest myself for a bit.

Just doing a bit of work now so I don't have to schlep it with me. I know - working on a Saturday night is lame. But not as lame as going for a mini-holiday and working straight through it.

Btw, anyone been to see a game live in 3D at the cinema? I'm keen to do that for one of the last matches, but wondering if it's worth it.

Have a good one folks. I plan to.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Culture collision

At the moment we have the only guests so far that I haven't clicked with staying with us. They are two Chinese Canadian guys - father and son. The dad only speaks Cantonese and doesn't understand a word of English, so the son translates. I found them really awkward when they arrived on Wed, and by Thursday I had decided that nothing we could possibly show them in South Africa would excite them in the least as they seemed set on being unimpressed. But after a home-style SA braai last night, complete with TSC's magic braai broodjies (toasted sarmies made on the fire), they have lightened up a lot and we even sat around the table after dessert (another SA favourite - malva pudding with custard) chatting about our different cultures.

While I work today, TSC has taken them to the Rosebank African Craft Market and then to a dim sum restaurant I found in Illovo (the dad was originally a dim sum chef in Hong Kong, before they moved to Canada, so I'm hoping this place doesn't disappoint). After that, we're heading to Croc World and then they're off to tonight's game at Soccer City.

They leave tomorrow night and then on Sunday TSC and I are off to a warmer part of the country for three days to recuperate before our next (and last) guests arrive for eight days.

I just realised today that tomorrow it will be a full month that we've been hosting visitors. Now I understand why I've been a bit tired!

Off to get some work in before we see the crocs. Have a great weekend and please shout for Ghana at the soccer!