What every (Jozi) girl should know

One of my most favourite friends on the interwebs that became one of my most favourite friends in real life (that’s IRL in twitter speak), Rose Cohen, recently wrote this for one of her friends that moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg and asked that I send it on to Cazpi that also moved there recently.  I’m still in mourning over losing my favourite photographer.

I’m sharing this with you partly because I thought it was hilarious and partly because I’m trying to encourage Rose to write more.  Winkwinknudgenudge.

Here goes:

Places to go for picnics and walks 

  • Melville Koppies in… Melville! It’s rugged and you can do a fairly long hike, but it’s not dog friendly.
  • Delta Park in Randburg (it’s huge and borders on the suburbs of Blairgowrie, Craighall Park and Victory Park). Very dog friendly but keep your dog on a lead. Jo’burg people are not as accepting of dogs off of leads as Cape Town people.
  • Emmarentia Dam in Emmarentia Parts of it are dog friendly (again on leads) and it’ll be beautiful now – covered in spring daffodils and irises.
  • The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens (45 minute drive from where you live) in Roodepoort. It’s not dog friendly, but it’s lovely. Take a walk to the waterfall.
  • Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in Heidelberg. No dogs allowed but awesome for cycling if you’re that way inclined (60 minute drive from where you live).
  • Magalies Park in Magaliesberg (90 minutes from where you live) for retro 70s resort-type fun. There’s a golf course, tennis courts, four different swimming pools, braai facilities, restaurant, walks, pedal boats on the river. You get the picture.

 Where to shop

  • Sandton City OBVIOUSLY. There’s nothing of its kind in Cape Town. Wear comfortable walking shoes and have lunch in the Nelson Mandela Square. Memorise where you’ve parked. You will get lost.
  • Rosebank There’s The Zone in Rosebank, Rosebank Mall and the awesome rooftop market on Sundays.
  • Irene Village Market (45 minute drive from home) Save this one for a day outing on the weekends. Irene is a village north of Pretoria. The market is lovely and it takes place on the lawns near the Smuts museum, which is Jan Smuts’s old house – go inside, it’s kinda cool.

 AVOID AT ALL COSTS – Shopping anywhere near Fourways, Northgate and surrounds. It’s mayhem traffic-wise and north of the North Pole.

Where to drink 

The list is endless but you must try… 

The Radium beer hall is in Orange Grove. It’s the oldest bar and grill in Joburg.

The Jolly Roger in Parkhurst is an awesomely skanky pub with a great crowd and greater pizzas. You can buy hash on the quiet if that’s your thing, but they carpeted all the surfaces in the toilets to get rid of the cokeheads.

Giles in Craighall Park (also not far from you). They have a wooden deck, which is great in the summer. It’s named after the cartoon and the tables are covered in cartoons. The founder was murdered by one of his psycho staff members 7 years ago – but we do not talk of it, ever.

How to make friends, explained in five easy steps

  1. Invite appealing strangers for a braai. Tell them to bring their own meat and drinks. It’s expected.
  2. You don’t have to worry about the weather. It’s always braai weather even in the rainy season, because it usually only rains for an hour at a time, and usually around 4pm.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, cancel. Braai invitations are real and very serious. There’s none of this no-show or ‘see me when you see me’ Cape Town crap.
  4. Expect the braai to last at least 7 hours. Eating at midnight is entirely acceptable.
  5. Expect a return invitation for a braai at your guests’ house, a week later.

 Tip: For reasons that will become apparent you should not make friends with people who live in Midrand.

 Jozi must-haves

Antifreeze to put in your car radiator in winter, especially if you park outside.

Bio Oilto slather on your skin from April to October. If you don’t you will turn into a scaly reptile.

Anti-static shampoo to wash your hair with from April to October. If you don’t you will look like you stuck your finger in a plug.

A Humidifierfor winter so you can breathe easy at night. If you get a cold, throw in a few drops of eucalyptus oil.

Pepper spray and/or taser– for safety reasons, duh!

What you can leave in Cape Town

Tumble dryer– you can always hang your washing outside in Joburg.

Clothes horse– you can always hang your washing outside in Joburg.

Frontline and other flea fumigators– your pets and house will not get fleas. Ever.

Your ability to parallel park – the roads are wide and there’s always parking.

Mineral water and water filters– Joburg is (apparently) one of the cleanest drinking water suppliers in the world.

Three essential secrets to survival

1.     When (not if!) you encounter a Parktown Prawn (looks like a giant, mutant cricket) DO NOT NO MATTER WHAT spray it, whack it or chase it. Put a pot over it and wait until your husband comes home. Your husband must then dispose of the creature while avoiding the stinky black ink it will inevitably squirt at him. Tip: Don’t plant delicious monsters in your garden, the Parktown Prawn monsters love them.

2.       Don’t drive like a doos. Joburgers are good, attentive, fast, sensible drivers. Don’t daydream, always indicate, change lanes with confidence and never, ever mess around at a traffic circle. It is not a four-way stop – give way to traffic on the right. That is all.

3.       Put your handbag, laptop, gym bag etc. in the boot when you’re driving around, unless you want to be the victim of a smash and grab.

The lingo

Don’t say ‘Molo’ to anyone. ‘Dumela’ is the word you’re looking for.

When to smoke a spliff

A.   Before an electric thunderstorm. It’s nerve-wracking if you’re not used to it. Plus, you can lie on your back on the grass (far away from any trees please) stare up at the lightening and feel like you just met God.

B.   After an electric thunderstorm, just before the flying ants arise. Yes, that’s right, flying ants. They awaken after rains at dusk. Close your windows to keep the buggers out, then go outside with a tennis racket and pretend you’re fighting an alien invasion.

DISCLAIMER: Information supplied by Rose Cohen who has not lived in Joburg for five years. She is not on the pinnacle point of Jozi cool anymore so use (or lose) these tips at your own peril. Should you ever find yourself in a little suburb called Hurlingham Manor, do not mention the Cohens who lived in Culemborg Crescent. It will not end well.

Love to hate

And you think I have issues?

I don’t know about you lot, but I am officially a stress eater.

I’ve been on a marvelous eating plan and have shaken off some of the gazillion kilograms I gained pre-kids, pre-Daniel IVF hormone induced craze, post Daniel, pre Twins, post Twins and post-post Twins sleep deprivation comfort eating.  Not to mention the depression lets-stuff-things-in-our-mouth-because-life’s-a-bitch kilos.

I hesitate to talk about losing weight as I’ve been in a rather abusive relationship with the scale the last, oh, 20 years or so.  I’m also in the habit of losing and gaining the very same 5 kilos once a year and then adding on a few more just for good measure.

As part of this marvelous eating plan you are weighed every 2 weeks and you have to tell them what you have eaten, every meal, every day.  Let me tell you, when you start writing that shit down it gets real.  You really start noticing things about yourself and about the things you eat (and drink!!), when and why.

Mostly I have noticed when I’m feeling stressed, tired or insecure I graze scoff stuff food in my mouth eat.  I’m fine at work, but the minute I get home and I open the fridge or start packing stuff for the kids for school or Etienne sits down with his packet of chips at night its tickets, especially if I’ve had a rough day at work or I have come home to mammammammammammammamma from the minute I put my foot in the door until the kids are eventually fast asleep.  I’m not a big fan of chocolate, but do not let me anywhere near anything remotely salty or these cookies I made last week.  Those were a monumental error in judgement, or so my waist alleges.

I’ve also learnt that when I have something really stressful going on I’m often fine during that period, it’s 2 or 3 days later when my body wakes up and I need to eat everything that’s not bolted down.

I follow a very thought provoking (and beautifully simple) blog by Leo Babauta about Zen Living and I found this post in my reader that really made me think about my relationship with food.  Before you get all angst ridden about how to change a monumentally messed up relationship of any kind you might want to read his posts about changing habits.  I love how he breaks down things that are fundamentally hard for us to change because we go on a mission to re-invent ourselves in one fell swoop and then hate ourselves for failing.  Go on, the man talks a lot of sense.

Except for sharing a toothbrush when you are travelling, Etienne didn’t like that idea one little bit.  How very selfish of him.

If you could change one habit today, what would it be?

Love Bombing – Episode 1

Friday night was our first Love-bomb Friday in the series of 3 and here are some observations (Daniel was with us, Mignon at my Mom’s house and Isabel with Etienne’s folks):

The Man. On the way to drop his sister off at Granny.
  1. 1 child is A LOT more quiet than 3.  As in, there was an echo in our house.  The silence was awesome and horrifying in equal measure.
  2. That echo was however filled by Daniel’s really bad, open-mouthed chewing.  I’m now wondering if he always eats like this and I just haven’t noticed it?  Are the girls really THAT noisy at night that it masks this horrific sound?
  3. There is also a very real possibility that the kids really just need to spend one-on-one time with me. Daniel wanted me to do most things with him, including going to see Ice Age 4 on Saturday morning.  I love being with him, but I’m not a fan of animation (as in: I would rather stick pens in my eyes) so I was a little surprised when I actually enjoyed the movie.  He was in his element, chewing his popcorn and smarties (eek!) and, wait for it, Crème Soda (triple eek!!)
  4. Children are very quick to take a gap.  I was also dragged into a toy shop in Tygervalley where I was promptly instructed to buy stuff.  This did not end very well, partly for my bank account, but mostly for Daniel.
  5. Don’t for one millisecond think that they will sleep later because they are by themselves.  We thought he would sleep until at least 7h30, so imagine our horror when he reported to our room, wide awake, at 5h40.  We were not amused.
  6. On the topic of sleeping, apparently not much of it was done by Mignon at my Mom’s house as she was awake at 04h45.  Saturday evening was great fun.  NOT.  They were a gaggle of hysterical screamers until they eventually passed out at 8pm.  My ears are still ringing.


Yesterday morning I heard Daniel being really kind to his sisters when they were getting dressed, like I haven’t heard him in a while and I knew that we had made the right decision to do this.  They already seem a little more content, so let’s see.

This coming Friday Mignon is going to Etienne’s folks, Daniel to my folks and Isabel with us.  I strongly suspect I shall be seeing Brave 2 Saturdays in a row.  All for a good cause!

Then: On Sunday we had some friends over for lunch we haven’t seen in ages and it was a lovely “kuier”.  I wanted something that you could put in the oven and slow-cook so that we could enjoy our friends and not be in the kitchen the whole time.  We (and by “we” I mean “Etienne”) ended up making the most delicious Pork Shoulder Casserole straight off Jane-Anne Hobbs’ blog that was a massive hit.  To say “I love her blog” would be a monumental understatement.  We made our entire Christmas Lunch off her blog about 2 years ago and whenever I want to make something I inevitably find the perfect, idiot-proof recipe on her blog.  She recently published her book and I shall be laying my grubby paws on a copy very soon.  Can’t wait!

A serious stack of pancakes!

For dessert on Sunday I also wanted to do pancakes with decadent sauces, so I found a Caramel Sauce Recipe and a All-American Hot Fudge Sauce to make.  I don’t own a candy thermometer, so the caramel sauce wasn’t perfect, but the Hot Fudge Sauce was sinful. Hint: they were NOT diet-friendly.  A BIG thank you to P and N that made a huge stack of pancakes!


Date night

Just a quick pop-in.

Tonight is Date Night and I can’t wait! I remembered halfway through the week that I had promised Megan more hours before the end of July and voila! Impromptu Date Night.

Of course I tweeted asking for recommendations for places to go in Durbanville as I couldn’t be arsed to drive far and the 2 most attractive were Cassia (love them!) and Our Place (thanks Lindsey!) where we are going tonight. By all accounts they are lovely. I just hope they can put up with my dietary crap.

A friend also recently introduced me to Cathy’s site, PaperPeony and I fell in love. Check out her washi tape, I have ordered mine and I’m waiting for the next birthday so I can get a-wrapping! I used to have a thing for stationery and calligraphy, but since the kids it really hasn’t been anything more than the odd half-hearted attempt, so this is really exciting. Please pop over and have a look?

Then, we watched a Ted Talk at work today and I’m in the process of having an epiphany. Watch this space, it’s HUGE.

I’m dragging Etienne and the kids off to Wellington tomorrow for this:

What are you all doing for the weekend?

Mandela Day 2012

We have started a project at work for Mandela Day that I’m quite excited about and our department chose 3 charities to support:

1. House of Thembiso in Kraaifontein is a house for abandoned babies, something I’m personally very passionate about.  They get a grant from the Government of R13 per container of milk which is quite ridiculous as I see a large tin of S26 Gold is now in the region of R200.

They use Lactogen, so if you know of anyone that works for Nestle that could give it them at cost or you feel like dropping off a tin of formula or anything else you know babies need, please contact Sonja on 021 981 5261. They would love the support.

If you want to physically get involved, they also have a volunteer roster that they could add you on.

2. We are also doing some work with the Lucky Lucy Foundation, an NGO that takes care of all kinds of abandoned animals, re-conditions them and re-homes them.  They also do extensive work within disadvantaged communities, they educate people about caring for animals, arrange for free sterilization of animals and even hand out food parcels.  They always need dog food or any groceries that they can pass on.  They also support a child feeding scheme, so even if you have a bottle of peanut butter that would come in handy.  They are based in Joostenberg, you will find their contact details on their website.

3. The last organization we support is Shiloh Children’s Home in Kraaifontein. They take care of 10 children at the moment and are always in need of assistance.

As lovely as the initiative is, there are SO many places that need help on an ongoing basis and they have to fight for funds and supplies and assistance on a daily basis.  We ALL have things in our cupboards and playrooms and grocery cupboards and linen cupboards we don’t use, why not take those things out and donate them to someone?  If you want a list of places I’m sure I can get one together.  Otherwise, if you are in the Cape Town area and you want to donate to any of these places before Mandela Day via me, please comment and I will get in touch with you.  I have a whole room that I’m trying to fill up at our offices.

I have always said that I want our kids to be involved with some community service from a young age as I think it is a great lesson in humility and being grateful for what you have. But I need to get my A into G and just do it long-term.

What are your plans for Mandela Day?

Are you involved in any type of community work?

PS: Etienne was very nervous about sending me out to Thembiso and Lucky Lucy, but I can report that I didn’t arrive home with a new dog, cat, pig, rabbit, goat or baby. Not for lack of trying of course.

PPS: I thought the babies would be hard, the animals were harder for me.  They had a beautiful boxer girl there that someone had starved to within an inch of her life. There are some mighty sick fuckers out there if you listen to the stories of the animal abuse they have seen.

Linklove and the end of Quasimodo

I find lovely things on the web and via twitter every single day that I find I need to “keep” somewhere, so I’ll tag them as “linklove” from now on.  This way I get to “keep” those lovely links and still get to share them.  That’s a big win in my book!

My Reader is also jampacked with awesome blogs, ranging from food to design to parenting to personal blogs and I find it easier to manage my on-line reading that way.  It’s like opening the fridge to see if there’s anything to eat in there and there’s ALWAYS something to nibble on, any time, day or night.

First up is an article Tanya posted on her blog today about manners.  I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently as Daniel has suddenly gone into Brat Mode.  He has become all punchy and rough and downright disrespectful.  We have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior, but you also don’t want to spend your waking hours fighting with your child, especially when he doesn’t have any front teeth*.

Staying on the topic of real-life stuff and manners, Emily posted this great list of books to read on her blog and I’m definitely going to work my way through them, especially Bringing up Bebe.

Then, an article I found via @glutenfreegirl on twitter about how amazing Julia Child’s (from Julie and Julia fame) marriage was.  I hope to think that our marriage will be like that when we grow up old.  I also have a sudden desire to own one of her cookbooks.  If my trusty and crusty 1973 Kook en Geniet still works so well, just imagine what I could do with her books!

On the topic of cooking/baking, Etienne made a banana loaf last night out of the abovementioned Kook en Geniet, something I’m famous for screwing up.  He added some choc chips we had left over in the fridge from the girls’ birthday earlier in the year and it was delicious!

Know what made me want to stomp my feet? I pass him pouring flour halfway into a cup measure and dumping it in a bowl so I ask if those are cups of flour he is measuring.  Yes, he says looking at me like I’m mad.  He’s been pouring flour like this forever and I, that follow that bloody recipe to the last bloody letter, can’t get it right. I do maintain that it’s because the bananas he uses are completely overripe, that’s why his “recipe” works.  If you want to try this recipe, go right ahead, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but even my MIL swears by it.

Banana Loaf (translated from The Afrikaans and adapted for lazy cooks like me)

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4-6 very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanill essence
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and add vanilla.
  3. Add eggs, one by one, mixing well after every egg.
  4. Mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl, stir with a whisk and add.
  5. Press bananas into mush with a fork and add, mixing well.
  6. Pour mixture into a loaftin and bake in over for about 1 hour, until knife comes out clean.

(Apparently the flavor improves if you let it stand for a couple of days, but it generally doesn’t last more than a couple of hours in our house)

*Daniel finally managed to rid us of the dreaded Quasimodo Tooth last night and conveniently so right at bedtime.  He gleefully told me in intricate detail how he managed to get the tooth out.  His sisters found it hilarious. Needless to say, bedtime was extremely delayed.