For UM. Because, birthday.

It’s your birthday. How funny-wonderful it would be for you, this year, because the wedding has been planned to fall just after your birthday. It was planned around your special day. I think you would’ve liked that. I wish you were here.

1010365_10151749606301399_1272249457_n

P said a funny thing the other night, how my kid is sounding more and more like me, every day. Yet, when she speaks, I don’t hear me. I hear you. Like an echo of a time gone by, you’re still audible, just that your voice ekes out from within a throat you don’t use.

I see you in her gawky elbows and the way she’ll do the ‘hand-thing’ when she sees something she likes. It’s impossible that she learnt that from you – you’d not done it in years after Dad died. So, really, mom, is that you in that there hand motion?

I see you in her long, craning neck as she peers into the kitchen and asks ‘what’s for dinner’.

I see you when she gets frustrated and that just makes her more determined to do something.

I see you in the funny little moments nobody else would see. Where they see me, I just see you.

I could go on and tell you how I wish you could see all of this. How I’d only-half-jokingly tell you to move in next door to us. The cats would’ve loved it. I would’ve loved it. You and I would’ve been irritated enough by our close proximity to absolutely love it.

But I can’t move you in next door, or festoon your birthday with cake and gifts. So, instead, I’ll stand outside in the twilight tonight, with a glass of red in my hand and toast you. I’ll keep your voice within mine as I help my brother’s wedding happen tomorrow. As I take my place at a table, ruffle the hair of my many, many nieces and squeeze the hand of my daughter, I take you with me.

And while my kid plays in the garden with the dog (oh you would’ve laughed at him) and her little big voice exclaims in glee, I’ll hear you, all of a sudden, not so far away from me.

Happy birthday Mum.

 

There’s not a lot to be said…

There’s not a lot to be said, when one would like to go back to bed.

In a week’s time, my brother will be wed.

I think I’ll dye my hair cherry red.

It’s got to the point where I’m keen to be led.

But not to the point where I feel unstable in the head.

I like to rhyme a little, even when

it’s just brainspittle.

 

Beauty in a Box | RubyBox

I’m not much of a beauty gal. Heck, I picked up a bargain Toni & Guy hairdryer from Clicks the other day, purely because it was on mega-special and because my trusty Clairol mini-travel hairdryer that I got from my parents for my (believe it!) thirteenth birthday is starting to wobble a little. Yes, really, I have a twenty-one-year-old hairdryer. Seriously, it’s so old I can’t even find a link or pic for it online. LOL. It still works, but just not as well as it used to! But, yeah, it was time for me to upgrade a little.

RubyBox 3

But, because time is marching on and it shows on my face, I am starting to pay a little more attention to what goes where and my regular skin routines. I feel pretty proud of myself for sticking to a skin routine for almost a full year now, and it’s working well for me! 

The folks over at RubyBox sent me a little gift via courier this week, and I’ve been pretty excited to try the products out. The whole concept of RubyBox appeals to me, because I am a lazy shopper (especially when it comes to beauty products!) and because I like surprises that are gifts (but not parties – I live in fear of surprise parties. I’ve had one thrown for me before and am still recovering. LOL)

So, what did they send me? 

RubyBox 1

Natural Lab SPF30 Natural Face Cream – this stuff is actually pretty darn awesome. Goes on smoothly and I don’t feel like I’m wearing anything at all. Plus knowing that it’s keeping my old skin safe from the sun today is a bonus! It’s slightly tinted so that does away with me needing foundation for the day 

RubyBox Super Seamless Foundation Brush – haha, I SUCK at applying makeup. I generally get it right twice a year. This helped, as I used it this morning to test it out. Am now having a good make up day and I won’t see anyone but my dog until this afternoon. I’ll use this often, I can tell! 

Africology Body Butter - yum. Yum. Yum. I used this after a shower last night and my skin still feels good. Like beautifully good. I would add this to my daily life! 

Mavala Cuticle Remover – my nails are, well, I’ve been a nailbiter since I was three. I gave up once, successfully, and then it fell apart with matric exam stress. One of the things that nailbiters have to deal with though, is really horrid cuticles and this worked well to sort out two of mine. Mmm. Maybe I could quit the incessant finger chewing again? 

RubyBox 2

Anyway, even though RubyBox is a subscription service, I like how they also make the products available for purchase via their site. So, when you find a favourite product, you can buy more quite easily! Check it out here and you might just surprise yourself! 

 

/I received a small box of gifts from RubyBox to review for this post/

The LegNose Monster – A letter to my kid

Dear DaughterChild,

We’ve been through just about enough life change for a while and, this week, the last one happens. I just know that the emotional tumbles that go with change are here, but you’ve aced them in ways I didn’t expect. Tears are allowed, hating some of it is allowed (heck, I make a business out of that, you know how it is. haha) but moving forward – it’s essential.

So now on the brink of that next change, I’m reading Timehop and laughing at how quickly it all has seemed to pass by. Last night, we were talking about extinct animals like the Megalodon and how the Coelacanth was rediscovered. And today, TimeHop reminds me that you once referred to the Loch Ness Monster as the LegNose Monster. 

Hoaxed_photo_of_the_Loch_Ness_monster

Time has gone too quickly, my DaughterChild. One day you’re all LegNose Monster and Badum and now you’re all quadratic equations and fiddling with fractions. I know this all seems like a whirlwind to me, but I know too, that we’ve had our quiet and calm moments. I love those times, where we just stop, stay in our pyjamas and let the world pass us by. Keep those times, and make them, for you, for the rest of your life, please. They’ll help you keep perspective when it feels like there’s too many things coming at you from every angle. 

I don’t even have to tell you about why Monsters can’t see in the dark anymore, and, somewhere, in my head, I still think you need to fall asleep while twisting my hair. But you don’t. In fact, you need me less for these things and more for other things. There’s this disbelief that, as kids grow up, they need their parents less. It’s not true – it’s just that the things you need me for are not the same things you needed me for five years ago. Nowadays you need me for the serious stuff, the explanations and the trying to figure-this-outs of life. You don’t need me to follow you into the loo every time you go. Hell, you don’t even follow me in there anymore, although the puppy does. I don’t have to find things to keep you busy anymore, you do it. I am the one you come to, when you need help working something out though – please never stop doing that. 

I’m proud of you, DaughterChild. You’ve changed. You’ve grown. You’ve accomplished. You set your heart and brain on something and you do it. Please don’t ever let that tenacity be dampened, for it will see you through every tumble you face.

Happy New Beginnings, DaughterChild. 

 

quiet numbers.

I’ve been battling to write, for me, for a while now. That’s evident from the lack of regular posting here.

But then, this evening, as the twilight settled, the dog snoozed and I spun up Dylan’s latest creation and it became time to think. And write.

As an aside, as a rule, I don’t actually, usually like people called Dylan. There is one minor exception but call it a bad experience I had in primary school that involved a shittyshit of a person, who made me feel very small for many years and people called Dylan are normally not my finest. I find it internally hilarious that I can feel so incredibly close to someone who bears the name Dylan. Dylan, you’ve changed my opinion of Dylans the world over. Well done. You know how pedantic and pointed I can be about names.

I digress (as usual)…

There is a light that I see every night, from here. A million years and nine lifetimes ago, at the Shath, I used to squint out at night, out to the sea, and just in the centre of our view was this green billboard. Seeing that green light became calming for me, I suppose for its familiarity.

 

How funny then, as I sit here tonight on my new balcony, lifetimes away from that green billboard, I can see one here too. But it’s more triangular, slightly neon and – knowing my eyesight – quite possibly not even green. Haha. It’s probably grey, and I’m seeing  a triangle, but it could quite easily be a giant billboard that says “light” or “sale” or something.

My eyesight has become terrible, to the point where I must be wearing glasses or else things are furry and blurred. Maybe I need that sharpness around my heart too, because I feel a little furry and blurred right now.

Not in a terrible way, just in a way I didn’t expect. Metaphorically, I feel like I’ve eaten a little too much and need to not take a turn past the buffet of life for  a little. I’ll skip the dancing, to rest my feet too, thank you.

So you’ll find me, drinking my post-dinner coffee, hunting for a waferthin mint, at my table in the corner. Quiet.

 

 

There are no resolutions here.

It’s a new year. How you take that and how you handle it is up to you. After all, it’s really just a ticking clock that’s timed over…and, really, that whole system is artificial too. Wanna start a new year? Cool. Do it. If not, don’t. Remember – it was us humans who made the concept of time a reality, so stick to it. Time is our very own cross to bear.

cropped-screen-shot-2014-03-31-at-10-57-37-am.png

But there are no resolutions here. There are only commitments. In my head, I had five, right now. I suspect they will change as the artificial ticking over of an arbitrary concept progresses along the calendar that many people cannot agree on. They are:

1. Don’t let my own fears define my choices.
2. If I want to do something/work with someone, ask. I have a shyness issue I need to get past in this department.
3. Adopt a rescue animal (done) – if you follow me on social media, you know this already.
4. Stop thinking you have to do everything right now. This is a tough one for me, but I need to get over my own panic instinct.
5. Have fun.

Number 5 is important. I need that. A lot. I need to find more fun in my day, and stop thinking I need to martyr my way to happiness and fulfilment.

 

 

Five.

number5

There was this afternoon earlier this year, where I looked at you and realised you’d been finishing my sentences all day. It wasn’t some ploy to annoy me (although you know how well that would work haha) but it was rather a sign of how very accustomed you’ve become to the sometimes – what others may find unpredictable – sentences that ramble out of my mouth.

When we went to see the house a few weeks ago and you seemed so shocked to find that I loved it, I realised too that, in some respects, I still surprise you. The look of confused relief on your face will probably make me giggle internally for the next million years. 

That’s the thing about you and I though. We’ve got this thing we’ve been doing for a very long time, and yet it’s never ever really settled down. Sure, this is as settled as we’ve probably ever been, as individuals yet, every now and then, one or both of us will shake it up a little. Sometimes, it’ll be both of us.

And that’s why, now that we’ve rolled around to this date, our five year anniversary, we’re not spooking each other with surprise hotel trips or funny fiascos for one-night stops in cities not within our postal code range. Instead, our shakeups are done together and we’ll be moving this week, into a new home that signifies a total shakeup of every dance step we’ve done over the past years. Like that time you danced with me outside a restaurant while we waited for takeout, and I knew then that I actually won some sort of life lottery. 

There have been a lot of dance steps. Some of them we had no clue how to start. Some of them I’d stand on your toes and you’d wince. Some of them, you’d start before I was ready, and I’d still be trying to catch up while you wondered what the heck I was doing. But somewhere, in the middle of the too-fast tune or the terribly slow melody, we’d figure out our fumbles and carry on. 

That’s the thing about us – we figure out our fumbles and carry on. After five years of figuring out our fumbles, one would think we’d be dab hands at them but, life always does enjoy surprising us. And, when we figure out those fumbles, we learn something new. So now, when I trip over your feet or your elbow accidentally pokes my eyeball,  I smile. We’re still learning, and I like it that way.

You stick by me when I cannot stand my own self. Sometimes I deeply wonder why the heck you do that, especially when I’m about 12 seconds away from exploding into a blaze of fireworks and noxious gases. Sometimes I don’t know why you do it, or how you do it, but you do. I’m not the easiest person to live with, and I hate the way I let the world in too often, but you’ve enabled me to learn a level of self-preservation that, sometimes, on the horrible days, I can laugh the worst off. Thank you for that. Being reinforced by a perspective that is not wallowing (my go-to state for most of life so far) helps. More than you know.

Oh, here comes a lol.

When we first started dating, I had my well-worn copy of He’s Just Not That Into You on my bedside table. And it bugged the living crap out of you. You’d laugh at me for it, use it as a talking point and then, once, very sweetly, let me know that the book’s title was the opposite of you. You didn’t need to tell me then, I knew. But it still counted for me, so much, that you said it (and then desperately scrabbled through the book to try and figure out what gobbledeegook was written on those pages). I did need that book, in that time of my life, but it’s safely packed away now. I know, I packed it away when we started sticking things into boxes for the new house and, when I pulled it off the bookshelf, I laughed at it. That’s the thing about you – you can make me laugh on even the most terrible of days, and at the most horrible of situations. Thank you. 

After five years of making me laugh, I can’t help but look with the same sense of wonder and astonishment as I wore that 8 December night with the Tupperware and the baked goods. 

And while we’re doing nothing flashy this year, the greatest mark for me, on this anniversary, is that – at some point – you’re going to look at me over the boxes and life being packed up in an array, and crack a joke that’s on point and I’ll cackle.

You’re my second favourite human, and my first favourite adult. And the best part of that sentence is that I know it’s the same for you, with me. Thank you for five years of all this funny. I love you to pieces. Pass the remotes. Would you like (nudi)tea?

Love,

Me

 

And that’s a Pop!

There’s a new player in the online printing market that I am a little bit smitten with. Hello world, meet PopTex.

PopTex Review

An offshoot of Durban company, Kleen-Tex, that’s been around for almost as long as I have, PopTex is a new division that’s focusing on helping users find nifty new ways to decorate their homes and office spaces.

Because I have that ridiculously talented personal photographer in the family, services like this excite me no end. I am always looking for new ways to display her work and finding new services like this actually makes me need a little lie down because, as the team at PopTex will now tell you, I get a little excitable.

So, how does it work?

It’s pretty simple really! Pop along to their website and choose the size and shape canvas you’d like to create. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be popped straight into their rather fancy online design studio, which allows you to import images from your computer, hook up photos from your Facebook account or make a selection from one of their pre-designed line images, which you can use on their own or utilise as accents for your photographs.

PopTex Review

Here’s the fun part

You can add filters and edit your images within the online design studio, something I really enjoyed doing on the fly, as I created both a collage and an individual print. I can only show you the individual print at the moment though, as the other one is going to be a gift for a very special set of people this year.

Submit, send and deliver!

Not going to lie, I kinda expected a quick turnaround time from PopTex, because we’re in the same city. And by quick turnaround time, I mean, “cool, it’ll be ready in a few days”. But, less than 24 hours later, my orders were delivered to my front door!

The Canvas

Here’s the important part I wanted to tell you about. Whenever I use a photo service like this, I always get antsy about canvasses. So far, I haven’t been disappointed but, there’s a significant difference that sets PopTex apart from the others – and it lies in the canvas. When they say it’s lightweight, they mean it. Lifting my treasures out of their beautifully packed boxes, I was really surprised at how weightless they are. This means we can stick our pictures up in the new house with ease – heck, even Prestik would work with this! They call it FlexiCanvas, but I reckon they should just call it FantastiCanvas. A fully biodegradable canvas, you won’t even need to hammer in a nail to hang up your masterpiece!

PopTex Review                                                                                     PopTex Review

So there you have it folks – my feelings on PopTex. Oh, and by the way, if you swing your way across to their website, you’ll see they’re offering everyone 25% off their first purchase – you know how I feel about bargains when it’s gift buying time!

 

Dinner Time with Mandy Collins

My friend Mandy…what can I say about my friend Mandy? In short, everything. She’s a multi-skilled human with a huge heart. And, for the sake of our communal kitchen sanities, she’s taken some of her culinary skills and combined it with one of her other great talents – she’s written a recipe book, Dinner Time!

It’s not your usual recipe book though, that calls for you to ferret out some sort of exotic ingredient and then skilfully apply them to a gourmet dish that’ll take you ten hours to cook and leave you yelling “I hate cooking! We’re living on takeaway until 2050″. No, Mandy makes it easy for us plebians who just almost make it to the dinner table with some semblance of a meal created in the kitchen.

Lucky for me (and for my family, who are probably still scarred from that time I “got experimental” with rice), Mandy sent me an electronic copy of Dinner Time! to take a look at, and perhaps even try out a few recipes, before it launches on 1 December 2014.

Mandy’s approach is bloody clever. Instead of foisting us into the world of artisan ingredients, everything contained and mentioned in this book is easily available at your local supermarket. And, most importantly, Mandy actually scripts out an entire month of dinner time meals for the reader. See?

Mandy Collins Dinner Time

 

This makes it mega-easy for you to plan meals in advance and do your weekly or monthly shopping with a list that makes sense, and means you won’t end up with 67 bunches of random vegetables rotting in the back of your fridge because you thought, while you were shopping, that “maybe you’d have time to make a meal with them”.

So far, I’ve tried two of her recipes – one as a main meal and one as a side dish (although, be warned, the side dish could actually be a meal – yes, it’s that good and no, she didn’t pay me to write this).

Pasta Bake | Dinner Time | Mandy Collins

First off, I tried her pasta bake recipe, which you’ll find in Week One of her detailed monthly meal plan. Because time is of the essence when it comes to making meals, Mandy also lists with each recipe a hands-on time and full meal prep and cooking times – useful, because sometimes I only get half an hour to make dinner (and sometimes less…you all know how it is!) Aside from using Mandy’s white sauce recipe and chucking in my own mushroom spin on it, with some olives, I stuck to the recipe. And, guess what? My family scored it as a 100/5 on one side and a 4/5 on the other. The 100 being a big score, because we get enthusiastic about food round here. Ridiculously easy to make and scoring highly with the family = winning.

Cheerful Corn |Dinner Time | Mandy Collins

When Mandy was tweeting pictures as they were being taken for the Dinner Time book, she showed off this side item. It’s called “cheerful corn” and, while she lists it as a side item, I’m actually eating leftovers for lunch today. This was the recipe I was most excited to try, because I’ve never really put a spin on corn before…

I had to substitute a few things for it though, as we were out of red peppers and red onions, but that didn’t matter at all. With a little butter, corn, baby marrows and onion, this fantastic little side dish became the star of our dinner plates just last night. It scored an all round 4/5 with the family, who quite like this idea of me getting creative in the kitchen, but with some sort of guideline that prevents them from ending up with charred rice and weird casseroles.

In summary, I feel like these recipes and meal ideas are going to become the kinds of things I’ll hand to my kid one day, when she’s a busy human trying to keep up with the demands of her life. It’s these kinds of recipes that make dinner time memorable, and I know she’ll probably turn to Mandy’s book (as it is now termed in our house) herself one day.

So, there you have it. Dinner Time! makes dinners easy and the meal plans aren’t just adaptable, they’re excellent. It’s published by Clockwork Books and you can pre-order now by emailing info@worktheclock.co.za or buy online via the Clockwork Books website from 01 December 2014. Oh, and price? It’s R180 for the e-book and R300 for the soft cover, printed book.

 

 

 

 

Let’s make a list.

So, there it is. We’re moving house. 

It’s funny, you know. I walked into that house on Thursday and just knew. I’m a functional human being who goes by her gut. It takes a lot for me to be decisive, but I’ve taught myself to be, over the last few years. It’s led to me saving my brain and my own ability to get through life tumbles.

When I walked in, I immediately heard the noise of my family and felt the home beneath my feet. In my typical me-brain-type of way, I had made the decision already. And, as my Dad would’ve told you…when I’ve made up my mind, good luck trying to change it.

As we toyed with this idea of changing things up (and haha, the change conversation actually began as a joke one Thursday night), I felt panic. I like our routines, our life, the way things are but, hey, life changes.

Normally, by now, I’d be a mushy mess on the floor but, instead I’m feeling the panic of it all by making lists and attempting to gravitate towards a structured approach. At some point though, I know I’m just going to yell “SOD IT!”, chuck everything in a bag and get moving. Look, it’ll happen but that day is not today, my friends.

That’s the thing about change, though – you can either accept it, or fight it. No matter what you do though, it’ll happen.

So, this is where that ability to focus and get shit done comes into play. Because, of everything I have been able to learn (and actively forced myself to learn) over the last decade…it is to focus. And no, your machinations over why I focus on what I do will not matter to me. Sorry.

And that’s why. That’s why we stopped worrying about the niggly things that made us furrow our brows but didn’t talk about them. We took them, and we’re changing them. That’s why we could make decisions like we did. It was a small comment, that started an idea and, well…

The idea ends up being something that frightens me and – yes, it does. My normal, old response would be to fight anything that frightens me, Except that responding to that fear is entirely different this time. This time, I respond with lists. 

I have now pegged dates throughout the next month of my life, where shit needs to get done. And it will. Don’t you dare try move my focus. 

And what is my focus? That’s easy. It’s the idea I had as I looked out at the ocean, and imagined – with my mind’s eye – the Saturday morning I’d spend with my family, as we ate breakfast and laughed at how uncertain we felt about all this change.

Let’s go.