OREO kidding me?

Rattle and Mum gave away 5 invitations to the OREO pop-up store in Rosebank last week and I was one of the lucky winners! (Yes, I still enter some competitions – I just don’t spend ALL day, EVERY day, doing it anymore…)

It was the best ever leverage over my kids while we waited for the weekend to roll around – the slightest hint of grief was met with the threat of being left at home while the rest of us went to the OREO store and I don’t think any of my kids has ever been so well behaved!

We were the first to arrive on Saturday morning, of course. And it was such a great morning and so cool to get to spoil my four short people with all those amazing OREO treats!

The setup is like a sushi bar, so the first thing you see as you walk into the store is a conveyor belt of pure decadence, with such things as an OREO & Magnum ice cream sandwich, OREO cupcakes, OREO popcorn and even OREO & white chocolate fudge, to name a few! You receive a card with colour coded dots on it, which correspond to the colours of the plates on the conveyor belt and a staff member marks off on your card whatever you eat. You then present your card to the cashier on exit and they tally up what you owe.

The OREO belt
The OREO belt
Blue Card
Blue Card

I totally fell off the wagon and stuffed my face with an OREO and ice cream sandwich, which was divine and I can highly recommend the experience. I love how inventive they’ve been with the eats on offer and the prices range from R10 to R40 per item, so it’s really not too hard on your pocket.*

OREO ice cream sandwich

The store’s decor is bright and fun and they have a huge model BMW, built out of wire, rubber and some old car components. My little guys were particularly impressed the car’s ancient DATSUN engine which they both got busy inspecting pretty much immediately.

Little men at work
Little men at work

There was also an awesome marble obstacle course which, once completed, dispenses a mini pack of OREOs!

Obstacle course
Obstacle course

They have a decoration station, where you get a mini pack of OREOs, a little baggie of sweets and a little packet of black icing sugar with which to make faces out of your OREOs.

Then you get to place your OREO faces in a super cool miniature rock stage setup, Instagram it with the hashtag #PLAYWITHOREO and then you can look it up on the printer system set up in the store and print off your OREO characters’ rock show photo!

Play hard, Rock hard

We really enjoyed the morning and I would happily take my kids back there. And to make it even more of an event, the The Art of the Brick LEGO exhibit is right next door, so you can really make a day of it!

*My kids and I enjoyed all of our eats and drinks, compliments of the OREO store because it was a prize. I was not asked to blog about the event or paid in any other way to write this post.

Philips AVENT just celebrated 30 years – and we joined in the fun

This year so far has been all about the nose grinding, persevering and other everyday slogging to get ahead. So, where possible, I’ve grabbed greedily at every opportunity to take some time out and be sociable.

Last weekend, we got to attend the Philips AVENT 30th Birthday brunch. This was one of those rare occasions on which I got to bring the whole family out with me and it was one we really enjoyed. Between the delectable eats, candyfloss, bubbly and fun things for the kids to do, I got to see some blogging friends, meet a couple of new ones and to share in the celebration of a brand I support wholeheartedly.

My mom bought me an AVENT breast pump and feeding bottle & storage set just before Jack was born and it was a lifesaver when I was forced to return to an office job when Jack was only 5 months old.  This set lasted not only the duration of my breastfeeding journey with Jack (as well as restoring my faith in my ability as a mother to breastfeed my baby – something that hadn’t worked out with my first two babies), but also with James a year and a bit later.  Both of my littlest boys were breastfed for 9 months each, before weaning themselves off the breast and breastmilk. This would not have been possible without the help of my AVENT set.

What set this event apart was the fact that it really offered something for everyone. There was plenty to keep the kids occupied, including a photo booth, where we all got to have some fun, some brilliant face painting, candyfloss (did I mention the candyfloss?) – they had me at candyfloss… ;-P and we were spoilt with some very personalised gifts at the end. Each person got to make a handprint with their child (in my case, I got to make handprints with each of my four kids!) and received a frame to keep it in. Again, in my case, I received one for each set of handprints, so I get to preserve these memories of each of my precious monsters. What a thoughtful gesture!

So, although my babies are all well beyond needing feeding and burping and worrying about air bubbles in their bottles (which we never had to, when we used our AVENT bottles), we felt very much a part of this AVENT family event.

Thank you to Philips AVENT for a memorable and most enjoyable morning.

 

Better?

On Monday last week, I ran 21.5km in 2h20m44s. It wasn’t my fastest run ever but it was my fastest 21km ever. And it was just me, my music player, my water bottle and the road. I felt like a total rock star after that run.

Then, I took my Jack for an eye test.

They had those compulsory eye and hearing tests at school a while back and we received a letter stating that Jack had some problems with his eyes – a convergence weakness and a weak tracking system.

I looked those up and it seemed we’d be okay with some eye exercises. But I wanted a second opinion before getting into anything, just to be sure.

And it turns out he needs glasses and will probably have to live with them all his life.

The optometrist gave me a pair of lenses to look through, so that I could see what Jack sees without glasses on. I can’t believe my poor little guy has spent all his life seeing everything as a single, distorted blur!

And I guess I’m really glad we’ve caught the problem fairly early, and that we can do something about it. He looks too cute in his new glasses!

Jack with his new glasses on
Jack with his new glasses on

And he’s being surprisingly diligent about wearing and looking after them. The optometrist said that we would probably have a hard time getting him to wear his glasses but I think she underestimated what a difference they make in his world, because I really don’t have to remind him all that often to put them on…

We had a low-key Easter holiday at home. Lots of DVDs, playing in the garden and doing as little as possible. Apart from finally having started that accounting…

A lot of things this year have been and are going to be low-key. It’s just what it is for me right now. A lot of the time, I feel like I’m getting nowhere but that’s not entirely true. Stuff is moving forward, progress is being made and whatever.

I’m going to have to get my head straight and get busy(er) doing things like blogging, keeping my shit together and doing business.

This week is heading for hectic-ville, what with school applications, running around, executing logistics, fitting in enough long runs to ensure I’ll be able to complete the various races I’ve signed up for (a half marathon on 26 April, a 32km on 3 May and my very first full marathon on 11 July…)

I even splurged on a pair of new running shoes at last! I took them out for the first time this morning and I love them!

New Shoes

The colder weather is making it harder to get out of bed at sparrow’s fart to run, so these are a great motivator. These, and the fact that I need to be marathon ready in just under 13 weeks.

Anyway… This post feels totally half-arsed – mainly because it is. I started it a while ago and got tired, so I went to bed. And now I don’t feel like going back into all the details of it all in my head, so I’ll be back soon with a proper post.

 

The End of March

And just like that, a month has gone – don’t ask me where!

March is always a busy one for us. We have 5 close family members’ birthdays in March: My brother’s on the 7th, our James’ on the 9th, FIL’s on the 10th, David’s on the 17th and my mom’s on the 26th.  And, were he still alive, it would have been my father’s on the 8th.

We’ve kept it pretty low key this year, and I think it’s good we did. To be honest, I just don’t feel up to going big for anything right now. It could be to do with my feeling a bit – what? Depressed? Numb? Nothing?…

It’ll pass. It always does. As much as they exhaust me sometimes, my family holds me accountable for myself. They don’t know it, but they do. Because how could I do anything other than keep on going, when opting out would mean leaving behind these five people who would then forever wonder if I simply hadn’t loved them enough to stick around?

Ah, fuggit.

Clearly, tonight is not comeback night on this blog. I’m off to immerse myself in yet another day in the life of Detective Sergeant Logan McRae, of the brilliant crime series by Stuart MacBride.

Tomorrow, school’s out for the Easter holidays and I’ll be busy figuring out how to keep the young ‘uns occupied and entertained and out of my hair long enough to let me get on with doing some work every now and then.

Sleep tight, Mr. Serious. Maybe you’ll feel better tomorrow.

Like (to be) a boss

This morning, I read Stacey’s latest post over at Living Lionheart and immediately went to comment. But my comment started growing pretty long, pretty quickly, so I decided to blog it instead.

Reading that post, it hit me that my life is in a state of nowhere-ness. I’m a stay at home mom but not a housewife.  I’m a business owner but not a boss. I.e., I sometimes employ people on a casual basis but  I don’t have any full time employees to manage. This works for me right now because I’m utterly RUBBISH at handing over a project and overseeing or delegating until it’s done. But at some point I’m going to have to have full time help and I’m going to have to let people own the jobs I employ them to do.

Stacey talks in her post about second guessing her choices and actions a lot. All The Time, in fact. And I think that’s something we all tend to do, regardless of our position in life. We always wonder whether we’re doing the right thing, whether there might not have been a better/faster/easier way of getting to where we want to be or whether we even want the right things for us, right?

And that’s not even taking into account the parenting stuff!

Life took a couple of unexpected turns a few years ago, including retrenchment from a very lucrative job; two more babies, five years after the first two and various other big and small changes over time. In the process,  I’ve kind of left behind the media/writing industry (although I’ll still be the guy who runs those aspects of my business for the foreseeable future) and find myself in the chemical manufacturing industry instead. Where I am now,  I’m not out there pitching to potential clients for new business or having to have frequent meetings with clients. When I meet with people these days, it’s in safety boots, hard hats and reflective vests because, more often than not, I’m meeting them on a construction/roofing site. It’s a far cry from the conference rooms, hotel lobbies, overseas trips and company-bought lunches of my old PR days…

As a woman  in an industry still very much dominated by males and where the shift to online presence is at least a decade behind that in most other industries, I’ve been tempted (often) to ask Stacey for a job. For serious. Because, on top of having to ignore gender prejudice and leering eyes, there’s nothing that’ll make you second guess yourself more than taking the plunge and starting up a business in an entirely new sector!

Now, as for my family, here’s where I get to raise my hand in answer to Stacey’s question about husbands who have child-related notes in their calendars. David is very involved with our kids and makes the time to attend cricket matches, play chess, read stories etc. He makes their school lunches and drops them off at school every day and, until Jack started primary school this year, used to pick up the two littler guys every afternoon. Now, it’s only James he still picks up in the afternoons on his way home but he still pretty much handles everything related to James’ school. I do all the stuff at the primary school, because it’s less than a kilometer from our house and my job is way more flexible, because I’m the boss.

So I can’t say on the parenting front that I’m missing too much of my kids’ lives. I’m lucky enough that my situation allows me to be there for most of what’s going on. I can attend sports days, pick them up from school, supervise homework, etc.

But what it means is that my productivity suffers.  I need to be getting more done, faster. And a lot of the slack comes from a lack of the focus, organisation and confidence that Stacey speaks of.  But a lot of it also comes from having to drop what I’m doing because the kids’ needs come first.

For the moment, what this means is that my work life consists of mornings only. Because once the kids are home from school, there’s no way I’m getting any work done. That’s not to say that I don’t get distracted by other things. Right now, for instance, I’m supposed to be catching up on my accounting. (Yes, the same accounting I was supposed to catch up on two weeks ago.) And it’s been ages since I’ve touched my business website. And I seem to have lost the plot in terms of keeping up with my filing and keeping my desk uncluttered… You get the picture.

Of course, I’m getting better at avoiding temptations and having cut out social media has been the single best move I’ve made in terms of increasing productivity, ever. And I find that the more productive I am, the more motivated I am to get more done. Sometimes, the time it takes to see the rewards is a bit long and I get tripped up again, feeling like I’m getting nowhere. But then I’ll get another big enquiry out of the blue or my day will run that much more smoothly, because I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to, keeping track of things with lists and stuff, and I’m raring to go again. As my business expands, I’ll have to slowly get into the habit of being consistently productive.  The nice part of it being the way it is, is that it allows me to grow and develop routines and strategies over time, rather than having to manage in crisis/cope mode all the time. I get to ease into it and master things in my own time.  Which, in theory means that one day, I’ll be running my life like a boss.

 

Dear MTN

We started seeing each other a little bit over a year ago, when things between me and Vodacom started feeling a bit stale.

We didn’t get off to the best possible start. There was that thing where I ordered my new phone from you in the colour you promised me I could have and you then delivered me one in the colour I definitely DIDN’T want. Then I had to spend my own time and money chasing you to take it back, and then I had to chase you some more only to find out in the end that you could not, in fact, supply me with the phone I wanted.  I could’ve broken up with you then and walked away without having invested too much in the relationship but you wooed me back with the promise of something even better, at only a fraction more, and I stayed.

All in all, I can’t complain too loudly about the way things have been since then. I pay a reasonable price for a decent phone and have the freedom to top up as I need to. The device works and I rarely have major signal issues. Except sometimes when my husband tries to call me and nothing happens. It’s been a while since it last happened but I never did get around to asking you: What’s up with that? No biggie at the moment but, you know, this is the one human being on this planet whose calls I never reject and for whom it is actually important to reach me. What if it’s something urgent? What if something’s happened to one of our kids or to him and he needs to talk to me but MTN somehow isn’t getting the message across to my phone to fucking ring already!??! Just a little something you might want to think about…

Otherwise, my gripes are mainly trivial, really. You know, like when you debit my account 3 days before the specified debit date and I haven’t been paid yet? Did I ever mention how I love it when my credit rating takes a dive? No? Oh, yes. That must be because I FUCKING DON’T!

You couldn’t possibly know this, so I’ll tell you, I have a large family. We live in a rented house East of Central Johannesburg and, while it works for the moment, we actually have plans to move sometime in the next 2 to 3 years. Yes, really. It’s probably got a bit to do with how people get shot around here quite a lot. Like the other day, when some guys tried to rob a cigarette truck across the road from our house and one of them got shot in our driveway.  I guess it could have been worse, though, right? I mean, aside from not being able to get into my house for most of the day and the fact that bullets flying all over the place is not exactly conducive to a safe and happy family environment, y’know?

So, do you think that maybe I’d like to be able to maintain a healthy credit rating, in order to be able to secure a home loan when the time comes? Yes, I think I would. That would be grand, if it’s not too much trouble. ‘Cause, you see, I’ve kind of had to give up the idea that I’m going to win the lottery anytime soon, which means I’m not about to waltz into my dream home unless I follow the yellow brick home loan road to Kansas like everyone else does.

Speaking of winning – I was most impressed with that Win A Plane promotion you put on last year. Man, what a prize!

Here’s another little something you might not know about me but I’m quite the competition whore. No, really, I am. Okay, I’ve had to tone it down a whole lot this year but if you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I have won quite a lot of cool stuff over the years.  A couple of iPads, a couple of phones, some cash, some pampering and other experiences… It’s been pretty sweet. Because I ENTER so many competitions. And man, was I keen to enter that particular one!

So you can imagine my disappointment when, upon enquiring, I was informed by your social media team that I didn’t qualify to enter your Win A Plane (or a Million Rand) competition. Now, with a prize that big, I can understand that you may not have wanted to give the thing away for Mahala. (See what I did there? *wink, wink*) I mean, I can undertand that you’d want to see some brand engagement happening, before you just gave away an aeroplane! Jeez!

But what I couldn’t understand was why, when I pay you just shy of 400 bucks a month, every month, PLUS another hundred or two for top-ups, I was disqualified from entering when, at the same time, any Tom, Dick and fucking Harry who bought a pissy little R25 pre-paid recharge got an entry into the draw?! But in order for ME to qualify, I would have had to upgrade my contract to one that would cost me MORE THAN DOUBLE – roughly TRIPLE, in fact – my current monthly fee. How is that even vaguely fair or justifiable?

And even then, MTN, I didn’t throw my toys or cause a public scene. I went back to entering the competitions I could actually enter and winning the odd prize here and there. Nothing so grand or magnificent as an aeroplane, mind you, but still. I told myself that some lucky citizen of Mzansi was going to have one hell of a good day when that draw happened, whether they opted for the ‘plane or the cash. I figured, maybe this was the universe telling me to back off of this one and accept that it was meant for someone whose life would be well and truly transformed by the win. And I truly hope that it was and it did…

I could get over my misgivings and, yes, the sour grapes. I could do it because I know better than most that you can’t win them all.

That doesn’t stop me from still entering competitions, though. Not nearly as many as I was entering not that long ago but I still give it a bash every now and then. Like this latest promotion you’ve got going – the one where you receive and SMS prompt to SMS the word “FREE” to a designated number and get entries into a draw for a Samsung smartphone? Yup. I’ve got a good couple of thousand points in that game and am keen to see whether I’m lucky on this one.

But, once again, I’m disappointed to have to tell you, MTN, that I’m not sure you’ve thought out this whole promotion all that well.  Because, apart from the fact that YOU decide when my entries occur, by sending me those SMS prompts, I find myself also being bombarded with prompts to subscribe to a paid service that I have zero interest in. Not once, not twice but EVERY SINGLE TIME that I respond to one of your competition prompts. Really? Can’t you just accept that I DON’T WANT TO SUBSCRIBE?  I get that you’re trying to sell stuff here and make money. I get that, once again, you don’t want to be handing out cool, valuable products for nothing, that you’re trying to create engagement with your customers or whatever. But once again, I feel it is my duty to point out where you’ve lost the plot: You are not going to retain customers’ loyalty by forcing crap on them that they don’t want, in exchange for a competition prize.

If you want to make money out of a competition/prize promotion, then just tell people upfront how much money you want them to spend in order to qualify. Then you draw a qualifying client’s name out of a hat and BOOM! You’ve sufficiently fleeced a customer while making him/her a winner, no-one’s been inundated with bullshit subscription schemes and everyone’s happy.

And I guess that’s really what we’re all going for here, isn’t it? To be happy? Which is why, on having reflected during those instances of annoyance and/or disappointment, and over the writing of these 1375 words and some, I’ve decided to file for a divorce. It’s not me, it’s you. You simply don’t make me happy. So, come January 2016, when my dues are paid and the current contract period lapses, I’ll be making my move on over back to Vodacom.

 

Drawing a Line

This morning, not long after David left to drop the kids off at school, he called me to tell me that Jack had forgotten to bring his school bag with him. Of course, this meant that I would have to bring it to school, otherwise David would be late for work.

When I arrived at the school, Jack was being held by his arms between two other boys, a couple of other boys following, walking past me. They were all laughing, so I didn’t make anything of it. I dropped the bag outside of Jack’s classroom and started making my way back to my car, when Jack came running toward me with the other boys hot on his heels, grabbing at him. And a split second later, I watched Jack pivot and throw a single punch and the larger boy behind him come to a dead stop. I’ll probably get in to trouble for saying so, but it was a thing of beauty. That series of movements was executed as if choreographed for a boxing film – the lightness of his feet, the speed, form and power of that blow, landing bang-in-the-middle of the other kid’s mouth. It was beautiful.

Now, if there had been any malice or forethought to it, I would probably have taken a different view on it. And I had to feel for the poor little guy who caught it in the kisser – they are, after all, a bunch of six year-olds.  But anyone watching would have told you that, outrun, outnumbered and feeling threatened, my boy took that swing in pure self-defense, landed it on the mark and then stopped.  Turns out the other boys had been trying to drag him to a group of girls nearby and make him kiss one of them and he was having none of it. I can’t argue with that. Everyone has a limit to the level of infringement they will allow on their personal space. Everyone has a line that you cross at your peril.

I obviously had to make a point of telling Jack then and there that punching is not okay and make him apologise to the other kid, who was bleeding a bit from his top gum. I made them shake hands and checked and double checked that the other kid was okay – the bleeding only lasted a couple of seconds. But I have a feeling I haven’t heard the end of this yet.

I suspect that the other kid will have told his parents that he got punched in the face today. And they will, in all likelihood, want to take it up with the school. I can’t say that I wouldn’t, in their shoes.  Things are different these days from back when I was at school. Kids can’t just sort out their shit anymore.

It used to be, when you had a beef with someone at school, you’d arrange a time and place and you’d have it out.  You’d arrive at the designated spot, assuming you didn’t chicken out  – and the shame of being labelled a coward was always significantly worse than any beating one of your peers might lay on you – and the challenger would draw a line in the sand a few feet in front of him. And his opponent would accept the challenge by stepping over that line, signalling the start of the fight. Someone would win, someone would lose and, by the end of it, both parties would normally walk away with a newfound respect for each other and come out of the whole thing firm friends.

These days, things just spiral completely out of hand too quickly and no-one can be trusted not to make a circus of any minor altercation. These days, children murder each other for little more than a few dirty eyeballs; Parents call conferences with teachers before the kids even really know what they’re upset with each other about; Lawyers and authorities are consulted, because children and parents and even teachers can’t be counted upon to reach sane, amicable solutions.  Families are called before committees because we’ve all become too sensitive to communicate effectively – it’s too easy to say the wrong thing and offend someone… And with the language barrier so common in our current society, cultural differences, the varied levels of social standing and education, it’s insane how quickly a thoughtless comment becomes a racial slur or a “bullying” incident; How a scuffle on the playground – a reflexive swing of a fist – becomes something more sinister…

It so happens I have a meeting with Jack’s teacher tomorrow morning, so I’ll be telling her of the incident before anyone else does. Let it not be said that I don’t view the matter seriously or that I condone violence from my children. But let it also not be said that my child is a bully. I will stand by him and back him and champion his cause and fight for him, whatever anyone says. Because I know who he is and I saw what happened and because, knowing what is likely coming, I’m drawing a line.

Liebster Award

Okay, so I wasn’t actually awarded this one. I saw it over on Cassey’s blog and mentioned in her comments section that I may use it to inspire some cool Q&A type  stuff for a post on my blog. Of course, it sounded like a totally unsubtle hint at wanting an award,  so she added me to her list of nominees. Yay, me! ;-P

liebster-award

And here’s how it works:

  • 1.  Thank and link the person who nominated you.
  • 2. Answer the questions asked by the nominator.
  • 3. Nominate 11 other bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers and link them.
  • 4. Create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • 5. Notify your nominees via social media/blogs.

And here are the questions Cassey asked, with my answers:

1. When you go somewhere new, what’s more important seeing the sights or eating the food?

Depends on the place and what my budget is. But more often than not, I’m all about the food first, then the sights. The scenery will still be there tomorrow but I might not, if I starve to death! 😉

2. Five cities/countries/places you must see.

New York City, Venice, Germany, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong, Thailand, Milan, Cyprus, Greece, the Louvre (again), the inside of Burj Khalifa, Disneyland,  the LEGOLAND resorts, Cadbury’s Dairy World… And everywhere else in between. Sorry, no way I’m picking just five. You can’t make me!

3. Favourite city/country/place.

Right now, Johannesburg. Because it’s where I’m setting up the systems and structures that will create wealth for my family and allow us in time to visit and explore and fall in love with all the other places we’ll go.

4. Shades of grey or black and white?

All of them. Some things, you just know are right or wrong. Others, you have to gauge what’s the greatest good for the greatest number…

5. Who’s your favourite superhero?

Not sure. I’m kind of disenchanted with what moviemakers have done with superheroes of late – they’re all coming off a bit poncey. I really like David Dunn of the 2000 movie, Unbreakable? He’s real and raw and wounded and vulnerable and big and unbreakable and just a good guy, deep down.

6. Who’s your favourite villain?

Elijah Price. He’s the perfect polar opposite to David Dunn but also not really. In his own way, he’s kind of a good guy, too.

7. Top three books.

The Hounds of the Morrigan – Pat O’ Shea

Kringe in ‘n Bos – Dalene Matthee

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Of course, this could change at any moment. Picking favourites is hard because the way I feel about a book can change at any time, depending on where I’m at, mentally and emotionally. If it communicates something to me that resonates with me, I love it. When it stops doing that, I move on.

8.  Top three series

I really don’t watch much TV at all, so this is hard. I’ll have to list the only three series I’ve actually watched over the past couple of years:

Prison Break (How kak was the ending?!)

Dexter (only saw up to end of Season 6)

Game of Thrones

9. Tea or coffee?

Coffee in the morning. Rooibos tea the rest of the day. And maybe the odd coffee in between.

10. Favourite game.

Up until recently, I was having loads of fun playing Criminal Case on my phone. But that went the way of social media and now I don’t play any games anymore.

11. Favourite character you’ve played.

A long, long time ago, when I dabbled in RPG, I once played a Ravnos vampire  with a bunch of cool skills but known to be dead. It was awesome.

And here are my nominations:

I’m not nominating anyone.  I don’t think there are even 11 people who read my blog. And I’m pretty sure that most of the bloggers I follow have more than 200 followers. Also, I’m not on social media, so this eliminates the notifying nominees bit from the equation, too. So, if you read my blog and would like to play, here are my questions to you:

1. Where in the world have you been?

2. What is your signature dish – the one thing you can make/cook/bake better than anyone else?

3. How many of your high school friends are you still in touch with now?

4. What did you want to be when you “grew up” and are you doing/being that now?

5. Five books you could read over and over again?

6. Five all time favourite films?

7. Top five songs in your current playlist?

8. What has been your biggest adventure so far?

9. What is your single greatest regret?

10. What is your single greatest motivator?

11. If you could change one thing in the world/your life/your job/the universe, what would it be?

And there you go.

 

@TheatreOnSquare #DoubleBass

What a happy surprise to find an invitation in my inbox last week to the opening night of Patrick Süskind‘s The Double Bass at Sandton’s Auto & General Theatre on the Square!

Thank you, Wenchy!

Many people don’t know this, but I was accepted to Pro Arte for Drama many, many years ago.

It has been a very long time since I’ve indulged in the theatre experience, which is sad because I ADORE theatre! So I jumped at the chance to drag my David off to Sandton to see the show with me.

This was my first visit to Theatre on the Square and I simply love the venue!

 

Invitation
Invitation

 

Media release:

Daphne Kuhn
by arrangement with Rosica Colin Limited London presents

PATRICK SUSKIND’S
THE DOUBLE BASS
translated by MICHAEL HOFMANN

17th February – 14th March

directed by ALAN SWERDLOW
set and lighting by DENIS HUTCHINSON

starring PIETER BOSCH BOTHA

Internationally renowned, award-winning play, THE DOUBLE BASS, opens at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in February. Daphne Kuhn has assembled a stellar team to bring you an original South African production of this much celebrated work. The illustrious award-winning, Alan Swerdlow will direct highly acclaimed and versatile actor, Pieter Bosch Botha in this delightful piece which will be designed by Denis Hutchinson. The play is written by the German author Patrick Suskind, who is most known for writing the famed novel and film, “Perfume”.

THE DOUBLE BASS is a serio-comic monologue that explores a double bass player’s relationship with his instrument, illuminating both the instrument’s and the player’s supporting role in the orchestra as well as in life. The character is caught in the claustrophobic world of his soundproof, hermetically sealed apartment. He is on his own with his dissatisfactions, desires and dreams. The only companion that he has is the heavy, solid, raw insurmountable double bass. The instrument is alternately characterized as feminine, reliable, discriminated against, and simultaneously protesting and threatening revolution.

The play is a delightful allegory of the downtrodden who are crying out to be heard, set in the elegant world of classical music. The play is liberally dosed with comic overtones and is a must for lovers of legitimate theatre and music.

When Süskind wrote “Perfume”, he described smells with such imagination and accuracy that to read the book is like smelling with your eyes. In his one-man play THE DOUBLE BASS, which he wrote before the novel, he proves his prowess and gift for writing in many genres.

THE DOUBLE BASS was first staged in Munich in the eighties and has since become one of the most performed plays in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It has also been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Royal National Theatre in London. The Auto & General Theatre on the Square is proud to present its professional debut of the play in Gauteng.

Bookings can be made by calling the theatre’s box-office on tel. 011 883-8606,
via Strictly Tickets on tel. 082 553 5901 or on-line:
www.strictlytickets.com

Enquire about group discounts, dinner show packages and Tuesday specials.

ENDS

It was marvelous to be able to dress up and slip away from life for a couple of hours, sip a glass of wine and immerse myself in something that requires nothing of me but my presence (mental and physical). I found myself nodding furiously a number of times throughout the show, or nodding and laughing, when I wasn’t coasting right along with the double bassist on his emotional ride of frustration, passion, disdain and longing. It is astounding and humbling that a single actor is able to engage an audience so intensely for close on two hours!

This show is a must for anyone who has ever been involved on any level in the performing arts or for anyone who’d like a glimpse into the mind of a performing artist. And if you do go and see it, remember to tweet @TheatreOnSquare using the hashtag #DoubleBass!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of complimentary tickets to the opening night of the show in the hope that I would blog about it. Everything in this post besides the media release text and photo is my own opinion.

Domestic (Mostly Food) Stuff

Last night, my brother and SIL came over for dinner.  They don’t live all that far away but it’s rare for us to get together, so I decided that, although it was Tuesday, we’d have dessert with our dinner. (Pudding nights in our house are generally on Wednesdays and Sundays.)

I used to have a little treat of some kind handy for every night after supper. It happened sort of incidentally, without my giving it any thought – a Chomp or a couple of marshmallows or a cookie each. And then I started playing with dessert recipes and making more intricate stuff. And then, one day, when I’d had a long day and wasn’t in the mood, we had all hell break loose because the kids wanted pudding and I hadn’t made any. So I told the entitled little sods off and laid down the rule that we would only have pudding twice a week. Which, frankly, is plenty!

But having guests over changes things a little bit, and I made an exception for last night.

Since our cleaning lady was off sick, cooking dinner for 10 people plus cleaning was going to be a bit of an ask, so I bought a couple of Woolies’ rotisserie chickens for the occasion, which I served with skillet roasted sweet potatoes and salad. And then I made individual chocolate lava cakes/chocolate volcanoes, using this recipe. I didn’t have any bittersweet chocolate, so I used a combination of ordinary cooking chocolate and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Other than that,  I followed the recipe to the letter, but found that my volcanoes, although softer in the centres, were not as gooey as I would have liked.  When I bake them again tonight, I’ll shorten the baking time to about 7 minutes and see how it goes. Despite being a bit overcooked, they were utterly delicious and I served them hot with vanilla ice cream on top. They were so good, I didn’t even have time to snap a pic!

Yesterday, I also finally made it to the Joburg Market, where I registered, picked up my buying card and dipped my toes in the bulk produce buying waters. I came away with a box of bananas, a box of apples, two boxes of grapes and a box of spinach.  And I learned a couple of things:

1. A trip to the market to buy bulk fresh produce requires excellent advance planning. I’m going to have to research and find out what fruits and veggies can be packaged and frozen and have my meal plans worked out in advance. They don’t sell anything in small quantities – you can’t pick up a bag of apples, for example, or a punnet of tomatoes. You buy a BOX of bags of apples and a CASE of punnets of tomatoes. And yes, they work out WAY less expensive than buying individual bags or punnets at the supermarket but then you have to figure out how to store them so that they don’t go off before you have a chance to use them.

2. A smile and a greeting can make ALL the difference to the service you receive. This is obviously not a new lesson but just something I was reminded of when dealing with the customer care official and sellers at the market yesterday. Also, if you approach people in a calm, friendly manner, they’re likely to go that little bit further to help you.

3. If I am going to be buying fresh produce in bulk, our grocery bill may very well be significantly lowered and we will be eating a lot more fresh stuff at breakfast and lunch as well as supper. Which is fantastic, because I have been nagging at David about getting the kids off bread for ages! I can TOTALLY live with having a variety of salads for lunches every day. Also, I’ve wanted to buy the kids those cooler bag style lunch bags and now, if we’re going to be eating fresh stuff instead of bread, they’re going to need them.  It also means that I will be able to pack them more stuff to school, including their water and juice bottles and snacks for sports after school.

4. If you’re going to shop at the Joburg Market, pick a day to go and GO EARLY.  The market opens at 5:00 in the mornings and runs until around 11:00. I went after 9:00 yesterday and, for a first time, I think it was perfect. There weren’t too many people around and I could fumble my way through and figure it out at leisure. But if I’m going to be doing this regularly, I’d rather be there when the doors open, be well prepared and get out before the day gets going full tilt.

Right now, though, I need to figure out what to do with 18kg of bananas and 12kg of apples.  For a start, I’m going to take a whole bunch of them and cut them up and package them into individual smoothie bags for freezing. I’m also going to bake a few banana loaves and I’ll probably try out some of the paleo pudding recipes I’ve found and pinned on Pinterest recently. And perhaps I’ll try my hand at a gluten free Apfelstrudel or two.

Hmmm…. I can taste it now – thick, doughy pastry filled with piping hot, cinnamon coated apples, topped with vanilla ice-cream, chopped almonds and maple syrup…

Do you have any tips for storing and/or using up bulk produce? Have you ever considered doing it?