Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winners Announced

Okay so first up ... the winners of the Deals on Meals cards :) Thomas (boy does that not sound like a fun experience!) and ZK (that definitely sounds like a wonderful use of the card!). So if you two would kindly email me on gladtobeagirl AT gmail DOT com, with your postal address, I will send you your prize :)

Other than that, not much exciting going on. I am hoping to book at what looks like a gorgeous spot for my birthday weekend away :) Excited. It's a bit further away than I was hoping (5hrs) but all the best places seem to be! Let me just say ... it's on an island. Tee hee.

Listened to yesterday's Digital Edge podcast this morning on my way into work. It is quite peculiar to listen to oneself recorded and played back. And it was quite cool to listen to some familiar voices. I did find it quite amusing that the boys are all blogging under their real names (usually ending in a .com) and saying it's all about ego. Yet all 3 of the girl's interviewed were using pseudonyms :) Wonder what that says about things ...? Just brings me back to what I've always thought: Girls blog differently than boys do (on majority). Oh, and if you haven't listened to it yet ... it's worth it just for @saulkza's spoof of the DA radio advert, advertising The Digital Edge for the SA Blog Awards. Hysterical :)

And last night I think I made my best ever crustless quiche for dinner. It was delish!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wonderful Weekend

Quick thing: I will be choosing the winners of Friday's Deals on Meals give-away this evening and announcing them tomorrow ... so if you haven't entered, go do that now!

Another Monday morning ... the weeks and the weekends seem to be flying by. And I know April with it's long weekends is not going to be any different.

On Friday, I went out for after-work drinks while Varen had his work farewell (this is his last week, he is thrilled!). Work drinks turned into work dinner and I only ended up getting home after 10pm. Varen arrived about half an hour after me. It was a really nice night, doing something sort-of spur of the moment with a new group of people. I always think it's nice to be able to socialise with the people you spend all day working with.

We went to Primi Loft (I can't decide if I like the way they give each of their chain a different name of not). Now I will say that in the past, the thought of going to any Primi restaurant would've sent me screaming. I have never liked this chain. To the degree that if you rated it highly I probably wouldn't take restaurant recommendations from you. I'm glad to see it seems to have changed somewhat and it wasn't as dreadful as I remember. The cocktails were delish (Mojito's!) and I enjoyed my very average California (with Bacon) Pizza.

On Saturday morning, Varen & I went racing around to a few large pet shops to see if we could find a new giant hutch like the one I set my heart on last week. Or if, at least, I could find someone who could build one to my specifications. No such luck in Joburg so far, would you believe? I guess garden-carpentry isn't really big on online advertising (really, I have no idea what to call it which may be why I'm having no luck searching online!). The only place I've found so far that looks decent enough is in freaking Gordon's Bay :( But I've sent the guy my design and we'll see how much it's gonna cost ... including shipping all the way here :( I expect it'll be a fortune! Anyone know of someone they can recommend with the sort of woodwork & wire skills I need?!? Please ... ?

And then we rushed home so that I could pop a few rescue remedy tablets. I'd got an email from SAfm (they do not seem to have a very friendly website ...) asking if they could do a live interview on Michelle Constant's show just before midday. Boy was I nervous ... luckily I'd done an interview for today's "Blogger Episode" of The Digital Edge (it'll be out at midday, take a listen!), last week ... so I was a bit better than I probably would've been. The interview was fun and only about 10 minutes long. I'll tell you it'll probably much easier to do a radio interview over the phone because in a way you're not really aware you're one the radio, live. You're just having a nice conversation with someone. It was really nice to be on the radio because my family in Cape Town and Natal could all listen (is a bit hard trying to explain a podcast to my gran, but radio ... that she understands) :)

A little later I headed off to The Secret Garden for March's bloggirls lunch :) The company was great (with Jackson's Mom, Louisa, Jenty and finally, Boldy Benny who joined us for the first time, who I have been dying to meet IRL!) but the restaurant was just average in my opinion. It must be great if you have kids tho and Connor & Jackson who tagged along will attest to that, I'm sure. I will say it was lovely being outside on a lawn on such a beautiful afternoon instead of cooped up in a restaurant. The service isn't great, and the High-teas were fine enough - nothing very special in my opinion tho.

And then after plenty of girl-chatter, it was back home to Varen. We didn't really have plans for the evening and I wasn't really sure if we were going to do Earth Hour or not, but we decided to. Especially after Jenty gave me a wonderful suggestion to spend it in the garden on a blanket with a bottle of wine, which is exactly what we did. I will say I was disappointed. I expected to notice a difference. Our complex didn't appear any different than any other Saturday night ... other than us, the only people who seemed to be participating were those who weren't actually home! Even the complex didn't switch off the walkway lights! And our participation "picnic" was ruined by the screaming rugby-boys a few houses up. Their racket was quite unpleasant. This is so truly what I hate about complex-living. Having other people inflicted upon you when you're trying to enjoy some time in your garden. So yeah, I was not impressed.

Sunday was lazier. We got the week's shopping out of the way and finally got round to watching Slumdog Millionaire in the evening.

Jamal Malik, a penniless 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” But when the show breaks for the night, suddenly, he is arrested on suspicion of cheating. After all, how could an uneducated street kid possibly know so much? Determined to get to the bottom of Jamal’s story, a jaded Police Inspector spends the night probing Jamal’s incredible past - from his riveting tales of the slums, where he and his brother, Salim, survived by their wits, to his hair-raising encounters with local gangs, to his heartbreak over Latika, the unforgettable girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of Jamal’s increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show’s increasingly challenging questions.

I will say it was quite different to the book. But I managed to enjoy each separately ... I think because I read the book so long ago. I think I did still enjoy the book more tho, because it was a novel (scuse the pun) concept when I read it and because of the twist at the end. Varen & I tried out Cinema Nouveau's new loveseats for the first time and they are fabulous! It's like sitting on a couch :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Things I Covet

Okay, so yesterday was one month till my birthday ... so here are a few of the things I'm thinking of, although they mostly probably fall into the "too-expensive-so-it'll-have-to-be-your-last-gift-for-life" category tho ;) I'm not expecting any of it ... but if I had a bankload of cash that I felt safe enough to just spend frivolously without thought or consideration of tomorrow, then this is where the money would go :)

1. A Red Blackberry Curve
Because it's soo cute. And I could get it ... but I am not the sort of girl, or geek (for that matter), who spends an excessive amount of cash on gadgetry. I got my laptop for about 5&half K in December, I CAN NOT justify spending about the same on a teeny tiny phone ... especially when a) I have one that works fine b) I have one that I only charge every two weeks c) I already have a perfectly good digital camera d) I doubt I really need to spend *more* time online. So yeah, I could get one. But I'm not going to. Which is why this would make the ideal gift. Pity I'm not expecting 500 of my nearest and dearest to club together on a gift otherwise this could be perfect ;)

2. A Suzuki Sby4
Yes, that's my ridiculous nickname for the SX4 ... you know like as in 4x4, 4by4. It's also such a cute little car. I mean if I were thinking of trading in my little C2, I think this would be what I get. That said ... if this were really just a wishful thinking post (without a scrap of my practical nature), then I'd probably be looking at Jeeps or Land Rovers ... or who knows, probably something without a top. But I am a little too much of a practical-thinker so I don't even know what my first choice would be in the too-too-expensive range cause they're just so far out of my league right now. And look, it's also cute & red in the picture, it'll match my wished-for blackberry :)

3. A New Giant Bunny Hutch
Our very cool double-storey hutch is great ... aside from the fact that Coal & Lily are gnawing on the edges and the bars :( Also, with Coal being a standard rabbit and not a dwarf, it makes me too concerned about space issues at the moment to consider getting a 3rd bunny :( They spend all day while I'm at work in the hutch and they sleep in the hutch, there needs to be enough space! Okay so those gorgeous hutches on the right are a mere GBP189.99 ... which is only around R2500. Wonder what the shipping would be. I might have to seriously look into this! Because ... I'd love to get myself a little Rexy and a Siamese :)

4. Milla Dark Pink by Vanilla Concrete
Isn't this just the cutest little fantastical creature? I think she's lovely :) Maybe this should be my gift to myself ... since I couldn't get that rusty rabbit :(

5. More Australian Women's Weekly Cookbooks
I am loving these little cookbooks, currently I prefer the mini ones to the big ones ... but after a browse round their site, there are loads of their full-sized ones I want!

Okay, 5 sounds like a nice number to end off on :) And now I have something for you. I was recently approached by the nice folks at Deals on Meals and given a few complimentary cards.
I'd like to give two of my lucky readers one each.

So here's the thing, if you don't know about Deals on Meals yet and you like to eat out and try new restaurants, definitely head over to their site and check it out. They have an awesome list of participating restaurants, and I can't wait to try them all with my handy card granting me the cheaper of 2 main meals for free, up to a limit that is set by each participating restaurant. Sound like something you wanna be a part of? Then leave me a comment telling me why you deserve this card. I'm really looking to give it to people who are going to make the most of them and who will be, like me, eager to try out all the restaurants currently listed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Post-Award Post

Okay, so it was amazing to win The Best African Blog at the 2009 International Bloggies. And it stung momentarily to not even be a finalist in the 2009 SA Blog Awards. I've received some lovely feedback and more exposure than I could've imagined after my win. But with that, comes criticism that one doesn't receive from being just another obscure blog. But here's what I've learnt:

1. I don't know what "Best" means.
The biggest criticism I seem to have received is the shock (and horror?) that my little spot online could be the "Best" blog in Africa, let alone in merely South Africa. I don't think it's the best either. Well, it is to me, but I'm biased like that :) So that got me thinking. What makes something the "Best"? Is it the number of daily visitors you have to your site? Neither the folks over at the International Bloggies nor the judges at the SA Blog Awards really know that (except maybe Vincent Maher if he hasn't given up his amatomu admin password ;) ). Is it your amatomu or Afrigator rank? Mine sky-rocketed after my win and I spent a good few days in amatomu's Top 100. Okay, so I know the International Bloggies didn't have judges but since they made up 50% of the vote on the finalists for the SA Blog Awards, I'm going to ask the question: have the judges been watching our rankings from 02Apr08 to 18Mar09? I doubt it. Hell, most of them (in order to make them a fair judge, I suspect) shouldn't have been reading the blogs they're judging at all till the nomination process.

And here's another thing about "Best". No matter what you say or think, "Best" will always be a matter of opinion. No one is ever the "Best" to everyone. There are masses of people in South Africa (or so the Box Office would have us believe) who head off to the cinema with their hard earned cash to watch a Leon Schuster movie. Me, I can barely survive their trailers and you couldn't pay me to watch a whole movie of his! So maybe you think my blog is the Leon Schuster movie, but I think maybe it's some of these other out-the-box blogs (in my opinion ... and I'm clearly not in the majority here, but so be it, I'm happy not being one of the masses!). Which brings me to my second lesson ....

2. I am a Niche Blogger.
Okay, most people are. Fair enough. But let's be honest there are some topics that appeal more to the masses than most. And let's face it, sex, sport and politics sell. If you can combine them into one post, all the better for your hit rating, I'm sure. I don't blog about my sex life, I certainly don't care enough about Sport to mention it unless I happen to go to a live game and well Politics ... nope, no mention of that either. I mostly try to steer clear of religion too ... mostly.

I am a life blogger. That means all the nitty-gritty of my life generally ends up in these posts (although I do have some areas I keep censored). I don't just blog about the most hysterical anecdote of my day. I am not going to turn that 5 minute moment into a paraody of its own self just for your amusement. I am not here to make you laugh - don't get me wrong, sometimes I'd love you to, but that's not my soul purpose in blogging. I'm here to share. To share my day-to-day experiences, not only with all of you, but also with myself. I bet I read more of my historical posts than anyone else. There's nothing like reliving my holidays when I'm feeling in need of a break :) I blog for me. I will always be my number one audience. And I know that'll get me a small audience ... because I truly believe that we all have a little voyeur in us. That's why reality TV is such a hit. I am not much different from the 24 hour Big Brother channel ... sometimes you'll tune in to find that every one is sleeping or reading or just watching TV. Doing that normal, average, everyday stuff that you'll be doing some time yourself. And, I guess, that's where the appeal lies, that you can relate to it :) My biggest hope thru blogging has always been that it will spur someone to do something. To try a new restaurant, to read a book they might never have heard of before and love it and more recently (and there will be more to come, I promise), to try a new recipe and surprise themselves :)

3. I'm not hell-bent on participation.
I only enter this blog for 2 Awards every year. The International Bloggies and the SA Blog Awards. For the fun and exposure of it, as I've said before. I don't go in for all the cutesy blog awards that almost every blogger gives to their current favourite reads or whatever. That is not my thing. I hope you like my blog but a comment to let me know you're enjoying the read will be sufficient to share the love :) I also do not participate in Memes. Can't stand the damn things. They have no place here, on my blog (Yes, I'm also one of those people who will reply to your email forward with a link to snopes.com or truthorfiction.com). I don't use Facebook as if it were my friend's RSS Reader with alerts on every post I write. I do not put every blog I read on my "Other Blogs I think you should be Reading" list. I read *loads* more blogs than just what's listed there. But I think the good things get lost in such long lists and that's why my list changes too. That's just me. You shouldn't be offended. You shouldn't begrudge me for it. You should stick to the rules you set yourself, on your blog. We're not making a trade here. I also love when you leave comments on my blog. But I won't leave one on yours just to say "I was here and I read what you wrote today". Much like the word suggests, I'll comment when I have a comment on what you've written ;)

And so, that's my little vent over ... and now to the finalists. Here are my nomination recommendations. I haven't delved into every category, some simply don't interest me and I simply don't have the time. I'll warn you upfront that I don't think the "big corporates" with their money and dedicated staff should be eligible, maybe there should be a whole new category for them and they can fight it out amongst themselves instead of stealing glory from the little people ;) But here's the few I choose:

(I wonder how far off my own choosing strategy is from the SA Blog Award judges. I haven't read half the finalist blogs they have this year before now. Are their impressions, and votes, like mine, made from a once-off first impression?)

(working backwards towards SA Blog of the Year ... )
Best Personal Blog
Here's the thing, "Suck the Marrow" doesn't seem to be a Personal Blog at all. Personally, I think the blogs in this category should only be for diary-type blogs. Dunno that "I Wrote This For You" is a valid entry in this category either ... This is a hard one for me to choose. I think it's gotta be either Exmi, Harassed Mom (my bloggirl gal-pals) or 6000.

Best Travel Blog
Meh, nothing in this category blew me away. I don't like the ones that feel like they're corporates (The Portfolio Travel Blog, Wild Watch & Cape Town blog). Also, I don't really feel that Cape Town Daily Photo is a travel blog. A photo blog, yes ... but a travel blog, not in my opinion. I don't like the "professional journalist" blogs either. Which leaves me in a quandry ... either I vote for 66 Square Feet, which feels about as much like a travel blog as mine does, or Amawalker, I like the concept of this blog ... if not the execution. Changing font colours and styles does not appeal to my aesthetics. Meh, maybe I won't vote in this category after all.

Best Green Blog
The only two that grab me in this category are Urban Sprout and Mother City Living (wish there was a Joburg sister-blog like this!). And as much as I love The Wren Design blog, I dunno that it's appropriate in this category (seems to be plenty of that this year!)

Best South African Podcast
Okay, so I can tell you upfront I'll be voting for The Digital Edge on this one, I kinda have to as they're the only one I've been interviewed for and that's pretty cool :) Plus @saulkza and @jarredcinman might have my head if I dont ;)

That said, I have tried listening to the Brendan Jackast before ... hideous. The ZA Show looks pretty cool, might try downloading that. And the ZA Tech Show (are these by the same people, gotta wonder with such similar names!). The Times doesn't even seem to actually be a podcast, just a random collection of Audio clips ... that's a stretch for me!

I'm against the fact that Highveld Radio & Just Plain Darren from East Coast Radio are up for this. Hello, their *entire* business is audio. They're not making podcasts, they're just porting their existing content into an online format (I stand to be corrected, having never honestly listened ... but since the Highveld link from the SA Blog Awards a) doesn't work and b) points to the radio's home page, I feel I'm in the right here). Also, it took me about 5 minutes to figure out where the "podcast" bit of Just Plain Darren's Blog actually was. Come on now people.

Best New Blog
Okay, so this is the one category where I don't expect to know at least a handful of the nominees ... and this year I know none of them!

Seriously, after a brief gloss over all 10 of them, I am not inclined to click that "Add to RSS" button on a single one! Seriously. I will say that I love Geekology's tag-line: I would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code. I think if I'm gonna vote in this category, it'll have to be for Theo Scheffler's Tales from India. It's the closest to something I might actually read ... although the posts all look dauntingly long.

Best Photographic Blog
Okay, I've gotta ask it: How, how, how did RamboGuy end up in this category? Or is his current front page just a really poor reflection of the amazing photographs to be found elsewhere? I don't know. I can't be bothered to look. I can't stand anything about that site. And 75 doesn't look like a photo-blog, it looks like a flickr page. We are Awesome ... again, where is the "blog", these are the blog awards, right? I couldn't find an RSS option anywhere. Is it just me, surely the finalists in a Blog Awards Category should at least be blogs ... ? Anyone?

That said, I do like Cape Town Daily Photo, Gregor Rohrig, Jeanette Verster (another bloggirl gal-pal), 66 Square Feet and Neil MacCartney (although he appears to be a professional, so he's not getting my vote, sorry).

Best Post on a South African Blog
Moral Fibre, seriously, the whole site ... it's the number of what I consider to be "invalid" finalists this year that really makes me wonder if they did in fact actually use Judges ... ?! And seriously Hottest Gossip? A news article ... for best post on a blog. Yes, it's about some horrifying events, but it's the news ... as best post. I'm still surprised. It doesn't even read as though anything was added from what the journo wrote (aside from those inane questions in bold at the bottom with excessive punctuation which is more along the lines of what I'd expect from a site called "Hottest Gossip"). Best Post? Perhaps if this were "Best article by a Journalist" ... then sure, maybe. Maybe. Shock content does not a Best Post make. I can't even load the 2oceansvibe page for some reason ...

So, it's going to have to be Kyknoord (who I don't read regularly but should, that guy is usually hysterical!) or one of Mandy Watson's posts ... I guess it's a bit unfair not voting for a professional photographer in the Best Photographic Blog category but voting for a freelance journalist in a writing category ... so Kyknoord it is :)

South African Blog of the Year
So I do subscribe to one of the 10 in this list, SA Rocks. But I think my vote will go to Ideate. I haven't started subscribing to them or anything ... but it's just a gut feel. When it comes to The Bestest Best category, I think you've got to look at it all ... look and feel, content etc.

And I *still* can't open 2oceansvibe from the link on the SA Blog Awards site. Am now trying the additional "www" portion of the url, and still I'm greeted with a blank page ... you win The Blankest Blog Page of the year Award :P

Ps. Am told that while I was reviewing some of these blogs yesterday afternoon, 2oceansvibe's site was in fact down ... it's up again now, but too late for me. I went to poker last night ... and lost on a maddening hand (of 4 people at the table, 3 of us had pocket pairs!). Varen stayed home and ended up working all evening :(

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Writer's Block

I am oddly not in the mood for writing. I have been writing a lengthy post in the background which is rather draining and I'm not even sure I'll end up posting it ... sometimes it's good just to write it down and get it out of your system tho, you know? As an attachment to that same post I'm trying to narrow down my list of recommended blogs to vote for in the SA Blog Awards. Which is hard ... because there are 10 blogs (most of which I've never laid eyes on) in each category ... and I hadn't even set out to pick a recommendation in each category. It's just taking so long and so far I haven't even found anyone new to follow. Disappointing.

What else is new? Oooh, I had a surprise interview with The Digital Edge yesterday afternoon for their "Blogger Episode". I'd chatted with them the week before when I was recording the Top 10 for them and recommended a few good bloggers I thought they should chat to. I never expected I'd be one of them. So now you guys are going to have to listen to their podcast again next Monday when "the Blogger Episode" is available to hear me interviewed ... I still haven't gotten to this week's one or heard myself doing their Top 10 yet ... I am still busy with podcast 5 of 17 for this week so far ;)

In other fabulous news, Varen came home at a reasonable hour last night. I have a quandry for tonight tho ... I was thinking that we could go out somewhere nice for dinner, but then I arrived to an email this morning reminding me that our monthly poker game (which I thought everyone had forgotten due to lack of emails) was, in fact, on for this evening. Now what to do? I missed last month's poker night because it was organised so last minute as well. Maybe I should go and let him have some free time at home and we can go to dinner this weekend instead :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thai-style Pumpkin and Chicken Soup

The handy thing about these Australian Women's Weekly Cookbooks is that they often tell you upfront how long it'll take to prepare :) My kinda recipe book! This easy peasy & delish soup should take a mere 15mins by their count, they're about right to be honest. But of course you can leave it simmering longer if neccessary. It also makes for a delish lunch the day after :)

So here's the recipe (serves 4):

  • ¼ cup (60ml)1 Woolies sachet red curry paste
  • 2 * 510g cans pumpkin Woolies heat & eat Butternut soup
  • 2 * 400ml 1 cans coconut milk
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
  • 2 chicken breast fillets (340g), sliced thinly or 300g shelled prawns
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Add curry paste to heated oiled (the oil is not really neccessary, if you like, just use spray&cook) medium large saucepan; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add pumpkin butternut soup, coconut milk and cream (I prefer it thicker, hence the coconut milk & cream combo - actually it was a shopping mistake by Varen the first time and I've stuck with it!) and chicken stock to pan; bring to a boil. Add chicken (or defrosted prawns) and stir until cooked through. Stir in onion and coriander.

We followed the recipe the first time and made the soup with the chicken fillets. As we ate I remembered the frozen prawns we had and thought they'd be great to try the next time (which I did last night). The soup worked really well with both :) I love the coriander flavour in it, but Varen hates it ... so we stir that in after I've dished.

Looking forward to another bowl of this for lunch later today :)

Not Thrilled

Yesterday was fine. Went to gym - am beginning to wonder if my sinus has something to do with swimming. I woke up at 4am coughing and spluttering again :( There is some good news tho, I made my first repeat meal from my personal new-year-new-recipes challenge ... which means that a little later there'll be a recipe with pictures up for you :) I made the Thai-style Pumpkin and Chicken Prawn soup (this time I used frozen prawns instead of the chicken and it worked well).

Also on the plus side is that the new episode of The Digital Edge came out yesterday, and I'm featured on there reading their weekly Top 10 :) I haven't had a listen yet myself ... but it is on my iPod in a long list of podcasts to listen to while braving the Jozi traffic to and from work this week. It's very exciting for me because it's their first "guest" Top 10 spot :)

On the down side, I feel like Varen & I are existing on different shifts. I leave in the morning while he's still sleeping. He gets home in time for dinner, if I'm lucky, and then still stays up till well after I'm in bed and asleep. Who knows what he got up to last night, I don't think it was work, but I think his schedule has been so blown by the past week & half of late nights spent working and doing Unisa assignments that he just couldn't come to bed. This does not put me in a marvelous mood. Firstly because I feel like I barely get to see him. Second because I feel like I'm the only one who is looking after the bunnies (aside from him re-filling their food bowls in the mornings) and making sure they get time to run around in the garden in daylight. And thirdly because I feel like I am the only one putting any effort in to make sure we actually eat something more than just toast for dinner. Alright, he made us both lunch on Sunday evening for yesterday - it was so sweet, I got 2 droëwors sticks in my lunch box too :) And last night he did put the left over soup into tupperware for our lunches later today ... but that was on request.

Now I know, he's been working really hard lately, and he can't wait to get to the new job where hopefully things will be a bit better. But I work too, and I go to gym and I make dinner. Sigh. I hope we can get onto a more similar schedule again soon ... we go thru this and get out of sync too often, it's exhausting.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Most Boring Super Hero Movie, Ever

It wasn't a very good weekend for me. Friday night was quiet. Varen worked a little late again. Seriously, am so over this and can not wait for him to start his new job on the 6th April ... and all those April long weekends :) Which reminds me that this time last year was Easter weekend ... the weekend we got our first baby bunny, Bell. I still think of you sweetie.

Which also reminds me that I took some photos of the latest crazy antics of Coal and Lily :) They're nuts I tell you! So as I mentioned before, their new favourite thing is to leap out and sit on top of the double-storey hutch when the top lid is open. I hope you can tell from the pic on the left just how high that actually is for a leetle boon. So far they've been very good to not try jumping off the sides! And Cola (no, not a typo, a nickname :) ) is very good about jumping back inside the hutch too. Lily not so much yet. As much as I wonder if Lil is a dwarf (I still am on the fence about this!), I also wonder that if she is, she might just be able to do these things because she sees her big sis doing them. Bell & Henna never did these sorts of things!

They also discovered our windowsills. Which was very amusing. More amusing because it doesn't worry Lily to jump up and back off again. But Coal gets stuck up there and won't jump down. She's such a silly thing :)

Saturday was quite a busy day. Varen and I started off at Doppio in Rosebank for breakfast (their Homemade Lemonade was delish!) and then we swung past Plaisir du Jardin to see if they had any of the bunny statues I wanted. Well they did, they had them is spades. Sadly they've all been left outside in the rain and even tho they're supposed to be rusty, they weren't in very good condition at all. I couldn't find a single one that was all rust - they mostly had these odd grey patches where the rust has come off or something. It was hugely disappointing. A little later (after Varen had gone home to work :P) I went to their William Nichol store and they didn't have any stock at all. Apparently they should be getting more stock for Easter, but we'll see. If I can't get one in good condition, it's not worth bothering me thinks.

And then I hit Cresta for all the admin stuff I had to do. Was in urgent need of a new keyboard for work. Had a bit of an incident involving 2 glasses of spilled water in one week that left my keyboard typing insanely - when I pressed the 'n' or the 'h' key it'd type 'hn', and it did variations of that for about 10 different keys ... obviously something got fused :P So had been using a spare one for the last week but was in dire need of a replacement. I also came across a special for blinds, so our spare room will finally have blinds and we can take down the awful newspaper that has been up since we moved in (yes, over a year now, but only my folks have ever really stayed in that room when they've come to visit ... so it's not been much of a priority). And there was a bunch of other stuff, I'm sure but I forget ... And then Varen came to meet me for lunch.

We decided to try out Plaka. I've only ever eaten at their Illovo branch before and Varen is not a fan of "communal food" so I was surprised when he suggested it. It was a lovely lunch tho :) I had a cocktail and we shared a dip selection (the Tirosalata is spicier than you expect!), haloumi and a salad (they have that yummy melt in your mouth feta) while I had the prawns (yum!) and Varen had chicken livers (yuck!). I dunno why, but it was such a lovely lunch :) After that we finished up the shopping (I found some new jeans, yippee!) and went home.

Later we went to Loulou's birthday party. And we had a lovely evening with plenty of laughs :) On Sunday we were supposed to go to gym (I skipped on Friday) ... but we didn't.

We slept late and lazed at home and then went shopping for the week's supplies. Top of the list of things to buy was also the Rapport newspaper. Obviously not something usually on my shopping list, but since they'd interviewed me earlier in the week for an article, I had to get one! You can click on the picture on the right for an enlarged view or read the article online. It's quite exciting for me and topped off the fun and games of last week :)

The SA Blog Award finalists were also announced yesterday and I am sadly not a finalist this year. It was quite upsetting initially, I think because I've been a finalist for the last 2 years and after last week's high of actually winning an award. And although I certainly didn't ever expect to win, I did sorta expect to be a finalist again ... But I'm gonna be doing a whole SA Blog Awards post shortly (wanna investigate the blogs and give you my recommendations on who to vote for etc. The really nice part of the awards each year is discovering new reads and I haven't had a chance to do that yet ... so till then!).

It's funny. On Friday evening I discovered a very negative comment about the fact that Glad to be a Girl won the Best African Blog at the 2009 Bloggies. It's amazing because, even tho I've received far more than one positive comment here from new readers, that one still puts a damper on my day. As did the not being a finalist thing. I won't lie, I was disappointed. And then the whole of Sunday turned south. I took my new pair of jeans to be shortened. And when I tried to wear them later in the day I realised that they're a little too short. Annoying!! I try wearing my other pair of new jeans and realise that when I popped in to just buy them (I'd tried them on earlier before I went to check out what the other shops had), I had picked them off the shelf based on their "hanger size". When I got home I saw that they were the wrong size so I went to change them. Obviously now checking them in far more detail before exchanging them for the correct size, I found a pair that had the correct "hanger size" and the correct "sales tag size" but were the wrong size on the actual inside tag. Sigh. How frustrating. I wonder how many people have had the same problem or if it was a rare occurrence! Luckily I found one that had all the correct size tags and managed to exchange my incorrect ones for them instead :)

Being in a marvelous mood, I acquiesced to Varen's request to see Watchmen ... in my defense it does star Robert Downey Jnr.

A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, the film is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” – which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union – is permanently set at 5 minutes to midnight.

When one of his former colleagues is murdered, washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion – a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers – Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity.

Boooring. I had very low expectations. And they were well met :P This has got to be the most boring and tedious "super hero" movie ever. And I use the term super hero very loosely. That's the thing I totally did not get. They're not super hero's (other than the naked blue guy), they're "masked" people. In fact, it's even more boring than that, they're the second generation of masked people. Sigh. There were so many things that made no sense. Which is fine ... mostly. You can get away with a little of that if you want to. But seriously, colour changing material. WTF is up with that? And I didn't even come out of there knowing their "super hero" names ... they were all like "John" and "Laurie". The best part of this entire 3 hour marathon movie is the intro. That's it, walk out after that.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Day-to-Day Waves of Life

Nothing much exciting to report today ... aside from the fact that it's Friday :) I went to gym (am also, like Being Brazen, hoping to make it there 4 times this week ... finger's crossed for this afternoon which will make 4!), made a disappointing dinner (Vegetable curry, yucky :P) and watched some series while Varen worked on his Unisa assignments. I went to bed alone. I don't know what time he eventually came up, but I woke up at around 23h30 and he still wasn't in bed! Poor boy. I imagine he'll be working like that again this evening. My poor boy. He was so far ahead and then after all these late nights at work and a few deadlines that he mixed up the dates on, he's now in a mad rush to get them all submitted before midnight this evening. And this, folks, is why I'll never study again ;) Well, never say never and all, but certainly not while I'm working full-time at any rate. I think I have become too selfish of my downtime after work.

Unfortunately it won't be a relaxed weekend as I have plenty of admin to get done (that I've been avoiding!) and now cannot escape. Sigh. Also have lots of plans to make for the upcoming month, to figure out how I'm going to fit everything in. Somehow with all the public holidays and long weekends April is usually completely crazy! And that is all. Seems like an awfully insubstantial ending to what has been an amazing and often surreal week :) But, I guess that's how life goes, up and down, chaotic and quiet ... in waves.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bits and Bobs

Okay so it's been an amazing few days :) After yesterday's "media hype" (haha!) it just continues ... I was asked to be the first guest Top 10 reader on The Digital Edge for Monday's new episode and I was interviewed by a newspaper!

Other good things that have happened: my unique site hits went over 1000 yesterday :) Today I expect it'll start going back to normal tho. And, the local pet shop *finally* had stock of Coal & Lily's favourite bunny food. I know, I can't believe I buy them anything but the standard pellets either, but it started after Bell & Henna died and I was completely paranoid about Coaly. And they just seem to absolutely *love* this expensive (R40 for 500g!) food. I buy a variety and mix it in with their normal pellets ... but that's definitely what they root out and eat first from their bowl! So yesterday I bought their favourite, Cuni Complete, and another mix to try out, Cuni Nature. If anyone knows other pet shops in the Joburg area who stock these products I'd love to know because the local place so seldom has stock and I now heart Versele-Laga!! On the other "yay" side, this morning I got to wear the cute new gloves I bought at Accessorize this weekend :) Was hoping to be able to post a picture, but their website doesn't really have stock photos ... and I couldn't find them on the UK site either :( But trust me, they are way cute!

On the down side, Varen had to work late again last night :( So there was no celebrating. I did however go and watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on my own (can't be sitting around at home waiting for the man ... although I know he was sorta keen to see this, I am worried it'll go off big-screen before he has 3 free hours for it!)

Adapted from the 1921 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film is about a man who is born in his 80s and ages backwards: A man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. From New Orleans at the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, on a journey as unusual as any man's life can be, the film tells the grand tale of a not-so-ordinary man and the people and places he discovers along the way, the loves he finds and loses, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time.

Hmmm, where to begin. It was a nice enough story, with (it must be said) amazing ageing special-effects. Although I think they messed it up in the middle a bit ... I also thought they added unnecessary elements, like the stupid hurricane and backwards clock that they vaguely linked to his backward life ... vaguely. Irrelevant if you ask me. And then there's all the nonsense about him being a "baby" old man but somehow not a man-sized baby. Inconsistent. But aside from the gaping flaws you're bound to find in a fantastical story like this, it was still a nice movie. As I said about twilight it has those formulaic things we all want to beleive in. That the person we love and push away as many times as possible will still be there when we need them and love us back forever, regardless of circumstance. Meh, I think the Oscars it won (Visual effects, Make-up & Art Direction) were well-deserved, but the Oscars it didn't win were for good reason!

Oh, and in response to yesterday's post, I'm glad the majority of you seem to agree with me that a personalised number plate is a waste of money ;) Maybe I should finally get that tattoo I've been thinking about. I've always sort of wanted one, but could never decide on what (or where really). I like the idea of getting something meaningful, as I've mentioned before, and I've been thinking about the Glad to be a Girl logo. I designed it and it's now been a meaningful part of my life for a little over 2 years ... hmmm, somehow two years doesn't seem significant enough yet ... maybe I'll wait for the 5 year mark ;) Hahahahahaha. We'll see.

Also, I'm taking recommendations of places to stay for a night or two over my upcoming April birthday (sheesh, i'm about to enter the last year of my twenties, scary stuff!). If you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them ... but the spot should be no more than a 2 hour drive from Joburg, otherwise it gets a little far for a mere weekend jaunt.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Choosing an Award Reward

Wow, yesterday was quite an awesome day :) Am still amazed by the award. But am thrilled with the support it has brought ... since mostly what I was expecting was a bit of a backlash about how can I be the Best African Blog blah blah. But I'm grateful not to have read any of those posts yet. The back of my mind (the part that is trying to kill me) is still waiting for them tho, the other shoe, so to speak. But for now, it seems that South African's can't help but be happy for a fellow South African :) I got a wonderful mention on SA Rocks and a featured headline article on BizCommunity.

Updated 09h02:
And I just found there is also a mention on News24 :) A friend of mine msged me to congratulate me after she'd read about it there! Unbelievable :) (click front page images below for bigger images)

Now how to celebrate. Since I missed the awards ceremony (being in Texas and all), and there is no award other than the prestige and status (and kajillion million new first-time visitors), I figure I need to treat myself somehow. I mean say what you like, it's still a pretty momentous thing and I feel I need to do something to acknowledge it for myself. So, do I go ahead and get that personalised number plate I was thinking of a while back (I was sure I'd mentioned this before on the blog but can't for the life of me find the post to link to!)? Anyhoo, I've been pondering the number plate for a while: GLD2BGR L(impopo). But it's a 2 & half grand expenditure ... for something I don't really need. I mean it'd be cool and all, but do you see my issue? And having just had a brief browse online, Plates.co.za is still refering to Limpopo as Northern Province (and they're R2500, which is where I got the price from before) but the government website says it's only R1500 for a Limpopo Personalised Plate. I dunno.

Option 2 is something I was going to buy myself anyway ... Dad bought me one originally (back in Cape Town), which I never got and the folks have now adopted as theirs because it's too friggin heavy to bring here on a plane! So Daddio did some investigating when I hinted that since we're all driving to JBay for Easter Weekend, he could bring me one and we could get it home like that. But he has rather found me a spot in Joburg that sells the same item. It's a bunny rabbit sculpture from Plasir du Jardin ... pity they don't have an actual picture on their site, but it's in the rusted metal style of the stuff in their 2nd Accessories photo. I love it.

Other than that I can't really think of anything ... if you have any suggestions on how to comemorate this with a gift to myself, I'm all ears ;) Varen & I still have to celebrate his job and now my award. I'm hoping we'll get to do a little of that this evening with a movie & dinner out somewhere. But since he worked late last night, I don't really know if that's happening or not yet. Sigh. Annoying to be in plan-limbo! So yes, he worked late, got home around the time I was switching off my light, so I guess it could've been worse. I had a lazy evening at home with the boons (I wonder now if Lily is a dwarf? I look at her ears and baby photos of Bell & Hen and I just don't know), eating left over Macaroni Cheese, watching Criminal Minds and a long lazy hot bath with some Body Thrills & my book :)

Oh yes, and today is the last day to nominate blogs for the SA Blog Awards ... so get nominating :) My recommendations are up top and you need to nominate at least 3 blogs (can be the same blog in 3 categories) for a valid nomination.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Bella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear. Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

So I'll say it: I loved this book. I lapped it up. I am such a girl :) Alright, alright, I know it wasn't earth-shattering fiction or anything, but it had all the formulaic bits and bobs we girls like to have for an ideal literary escape.

You know, the thing we all dreamed of at some point in our teenage lives. That we'd be *that* girl. The ordinary one. But the one who's anything but ordinary on the inside. And all it takes the most popular guy in school to figure that out ... to find that special something he couldn't find with any other girl in school before now. This book has that, in spades. But, it also has Vampires. Sounds like a winning formula to me :) Can't wait to get my hands on the next one! (and the next and the next, much like Harry Potter!) Perhaps now, I'll even watch the movie ...

> Follow Stephenie Meyer on Twitter

International Bloggebrity Coming Thru

OMG! I think I won. The official site hasn't yet been updated (slackers!) but, I've had heaps of hits, a comment on yesterday's post congratulating me on my award and I found this on @whiteafrican's twitter stream:

Could it be true? So I sadly can't seem to access Twitter's search tool but I did do some browsing online and found it on the Gossip Rocks Forum too. I think it might be true. YAY.

Wow. Still in shock. This is truly awesome. And yeah, I know, I'm not really the best African Blogger, or even the best South African Blogger, but hell yeah, I'll take what I can get :) Welcome to all the new readers who'll be hitting my site for the first time after this award, you're why the win (and even just being a finalist) is important. Exposure. That's what it's all about ... the awards I mean, not why I blog in general.

So, back to normal programming. Yesterday was ye olde typical Monday. Damn now I sorta wish I'd stayed awake and online to watch the awards be announced, or hell if only I coulda convinced myself & everyone else it was a viable excuse for a trip to Texas - tee hee! A girl can dream ;) Varen was home late, around 8pm. Just in time for a delish dinner of My Mom's Macaroni Cheese. It's the first time I've made this (it was one of my favourites back home) and I spent a large portion of the preparation time on the phone with her. Let's just say that the recipe she emailed me left a lot to be desired. It was little more than merely a list of ingredients. Oh sorry, did you think that would include quantities. You'd be mistaken. My mom's been cooking for years, she just adlibs, she has no idea how much of anything she uses and it still turns out perfect. Not ideal for a girl like me, but I was determined to learn this dish. So we battled thru making a roux for cheese sauce all the while on speaker phone. It get's pretty amusing when you're trying to figure out if you're making enough and a squash ball becomes a unit of measure. Then as I reminded my mom, I've never really played squash (okay once, but that was very long ago). And she explained that a squash ball is half way between a tennis ball and nothing.

But, I will say that it turned out perfectly. Secretly I think I may have made a better cheese sauce than her ;) I am definitely looking forward to the leftovers for lunch!

Update @ 10h47: It's official :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Herbert Baker and Bunnies

Sho, what a weekend. Just the right balance of sociability and relaxing do-nothingness :) On Friday evening, Varen had to work late so I mostly stayed home, hung out with my boons and watched Series. I did pop out so that we could at least have dinner together in Sandton. Nothing too exciting, we just grabbed a burger at Nando's. But, it was at least nice to see him for a short while ... especially in light of Friday afternoon's news. Yes, if you haven't already read it on my rare mid-weekend post or on my twitter stream, Varen signed the offer and resigned from his current position :) He'll be starting on the 6th April!

On Saturday, Varen was supposed to be working, but it didn't work out quite like that and I think after two seriously late nights in a row he needed the down time. So we had a very relaxing day at home. In the evening we went to a 1920s themed birthday party ... in a Herbert Baker house, nogal. It was one of our blind-date friend's birthdays and this is where they're now living. Sheesh, must be nice having pounds to back you up over here! The party was a little weird, I certainly felt out of my depth. Other than our surroundings (along with the hired band, barmen and caterers), it was also because we only actually knew our blind-date friends there. Not another soul. Yes we met new people, but we were definitely part of the younger crowd. So, it was interesting and fun :) Hopefully we'll get organised and make a plan to see them again soon. Is hard to catch up with people at a party like that!

Anyhoo, we didn't stay that late and on Sunday after I'd done the week's shop and Varen had done some more work (from home this time luckily), we headed out to visit the baby bunnies. Aw, I love bunnies! I could NOT believe how many bunnies these people had seriously, maybe 60? But their are all caged. And boy do they have some huge ones. I got quite a fright when I saw how big Coaly might get - eep. And so many adorable little babies. And such variety. Never before have I seen so many types of rabbits. But, here's the thing. On Sunday our girls had their first fight. I missed it, it was while I was out shopping earlier. But fur flew and I could see it all over the lawn when I got home. Lily tried to mount Coal and Coal wasn't especially impressed. They are getting to that age (Lily is 3 months now). But anyway, I digress. We saw the non-siamese babies. Apparently they might turn out to be a Sable Siamese. Which is basically a very dark siamese breed, but since their adult fur will only have grown in by the time they're 6 months old, it's really hard to tell right now. But they were quite small :) Varen is crazy about these little ones. Me, I think it's just because they're so little right now, they were cute tho. But then I saw their standard New Zealand Reds (Henna's breed) and their Rex Rabbits. The Rex's are lovely. They have short fur and feel like velvet! Sadly because of it, this poor bunny breed is used most in bunny-fur clothing! They don't have dwarf Rex's but they do have a little runt in one litter who shouldn't grow as big as the others. I'm definitely thinking about it. They're a lovely brown / black combo (dad was a pure black Rex). We also saw 3 day old bunnies too who's eyes hadn't even opened yet! Varen & I are torn. Option a) stick with the lovely two we've got or b) (in my mind) get the runty Rex or c) (in Varen's mind) get the runty Rex and a Sable Siamese dwarf. I'm not a fan of getting 2 new bunnies, but Varen seems keen. I am worried about space in the hutch - although our hutch is double the size of the cages the bunnies were being kept in there (due to it's double-storey-ness) and ours do get to run free for at least 2 hours or so every day (and more on weekends). So I have no idea what we'll end up doing. Damn, I wish I'd taken my camera along!

After that, Varen dropped me at the airport to meet an old friend up from George for a wedding en route home while he had lunch with his family. It was great. I have been spoilt in the last 2 weeks, being able to catch up with 3 old Cape Town friends. It really doesn't happen often enough :(

After that we went home and while Varen worked, I went to see Changeling.

Los Angeles, 1928: On a Saturday morning in a working-class suburb, Christine Collins (Jolie) said goodbye to her son, Walter, and left for work. When she came home, she discovered he had vanished.

A fruitless search ensued, and months later, a boy claiming to be the nine-year-old was returned. Dazed by the swirl of cops, reporters and her conflicted emotions, Christine allows him to stay overnight. But in her heart, she knows he is not Walter.

As she pushes authorities to keep looking, she learns that in Prohibition-era L.A. women don't challenge the system and live to tell their story. Slandered as delusional and painted as an unfit mother by the authorities, Christine finds an ally in activist Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich), who helps her fight the city to look for her missing boy.

Wow, I thought this was quite a hectic movie. Angelina is very un-Jolie in this performance, which she did well. John Malkovich is surreal - I found it bizarre that a reverend / head-of-church was so involved in the politics of the police in those days. None the less it was a fantastic story, a hectic story, but fantastic to watch. I was enthralled and horrified at the matter-of-fact the way the women were treated. Is frightening how that was still in my grandmother's lifetime. Makes one realise how far we've really come and again it makes me wonder how I might've survived then. Somehow it's harder to imagine in such a more recent time. Am definitely now off to Wikipedia to read up on the true story.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bunny Videos

Okay, so yesterday I finally decided that 6Mbs was the best it was gonna get ... it's such poor quality already :( So I went ahead and uploaded the video to You Tube. Then you guys got lucky because I was lazing outside (this was after I'd been munching on a chocolate Easter bunny while my two ran around the garden ... oh the guilt! Haha) and decided to take another video of them eating spinach. They're such cuties :)

Ps. I don't know what is up with the weird "barking" that YouTube is doing in between video-cuts, but it certainly doesn't do that when I play it on Windows Media Player from my hard drive. No idea! Also note: I've included the links to the actual You Tube video pages just in case because when I published this post it wouldn't let me watch them as it said the video was no longer available. Which is rubbish. My You Tube page definitely says they're "Live!". Very strange :(

So, here's Video Number One. Coal & Lily: Racing Around. This is how a typical afternoon goes for us. As you can see, I can't sit down for a moment without Coal coming to inspect me (and the camera, everytime!) and climb up onto my lap - cute thing! Lily takes a litle longer but will also happily climb up to say a far briefer hello. They munch on grass, they race around like mad things and, my favourite, they bounce like crazy things. Honestly sometimes it looks like their brain is short circuiting because they look equally taken by surprise by their antics! In this video look out for Lily's crazy vertical hop :)

And Video Number Two. Coal & Lily: Eating Spinach. So as I said I was sitting outside feeding them some spinach when I thought I should be video-ing it for y'all :) Aren't they so cute? In this one you can see Coal's magic colour-changing fur ... I did mention she's gone from coal-black to coal-black with giant patches of chocolate brown :) You can also see (when she stretches out) how the fur is growing back on her hind leg after her stitches from the labrador incident. Unfortunately because of the video compression I had to do to make it watchable, you can't really see quite how striking Lily's eye's are until right at the end (right after she comes to inspect the camera). Munch munch munch munch :)

Another ps. Late yesterday afternoon, Varen got the offer and signed on the dotted line :) It's the minimum offer he was willing to take, but what with the perks of being a permanent employee versus a contractor (27 days leave, the bastard! Sick leave, study leave, paid-for medical aid etc.) it definitely seems to work out well :) Yay for Varen! Wo0t.

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