Friday, November 29, 2013

The Real Friday Post

Shew. I dunno about you, but that was a big one for me. Luckily I've had 2 weeks to adjust to the idea of "coming out" on my blog ... I mean, it's not like I'm putting phone numbers and addresses (or surnames) here, right? How bad can it be. Probably not too bad at all :)

I guess I've always shied away from it because in the early days of blogging, and now even, when you interview at companies and what not, they google you, they look for your facebook profile, your twitter profile, instagram now maybe? All those things. When I started, I was working at a big corporate and was keenly aware of these things. Now it seems to matter less so, since so many people do it and it actually gives you some Social Media cred.

And, while I'm not quite ready to completely merge the two, there is no mention of my blog on my facebook profile and I have another twitter account under my real name, I think this will help my transition to "real person" from "stranger blogger". I guess we'll see and time will tell?

Anyway, back to the rest of this week *tries to remember*. On Monday and Tuesday I went to Boot Camp, yay me! My Thumb Wart, while not completely disappeared has shriveled and is no longer causing me pain. I suspect, however, I may need another (hopefully final) attempt at burning it off as it is still there (although smaller). #sigh. It was sore, I am dreading a repeat!

On Tuesday evening, instead of #SCMDinner, The Trucker and I went to the Bryanston Organic Market. When I first moved to Joburg, this was like the ONLY market there was and I spent many Saturday mornings there. I took my folks there on their visits to Joburg. Bean and I went to the Christmas Night Markets every year. Until I realised it *never* changed. And once you'd seen everything and bought everything you were ever going to (because really, there is only so much there one person needs), I stopped.

Years later, all the other markets popped up and I've been to most of them so decided that this year, in the quest for an Xmas pressie for Mom, it was time to give it another try. I reckon it's been about 8 years, maybe more ... so I dragged The Trucker along and off we went.

Let me tell you, the place has NOT changed one bit. The same stalls are still there, in the same places. Okay probably a few have changed, but Emma's Wyckedd Food is still right where I left it (probably where I bought the most and this time was no different!), so was the nursery. The guy I bought my currency frame from has moved, but he's still there ... And the place is still packed to the brim!

We took a wander, I found Mom's xmas pressie (score!) and we bought a Pineapple Chili and Basil & Almond Pesto from Emma's mom who has been selling it there since I remember.

We didn't stay long, the rain looked like it had only briefly stopped and was on it's way back and the food stalls were crowded, there was no where to sit and I'm not sure how much they had left anyway. So we headed to Anat, which The Trucker was craving and I haven't had in absolute ages!

Yum. Did you know there is a whole Lego store in Fourways now? They do parties. It is probably a little inappropriate for my 34th next year, tho :) But if I had a kid ... definitely!

Wednesday was a little emotional. The Peeb's op went fine, from what I gather. Chatted to her briefly (of course) yesterday. Poor thing has already used up all her sick leave this year :( But she's at home convalescing, like a good patient.

But Wednesday was also awesome. I recently introduced The Trucker to the Raspberry Pi when we were discussing the sale of his XBox 360 (with full Rockband set, if anyone is interested?) and potentially also the Mede8er and upgrading to a better entertainment system. Well I thought, since he was interested, it'd make a fab xmas pressie. But the boy simply could NOT wait! So he went and bought one for himself today (he did ask first - haha). And then found an amazing deal on a Sound Bar, which was on the list of purchases with the money we've made selling our stuff. He got it for about half price from the Demo Stock store in Strydom park. It's an LG NB4530a (or whatever). It is a lot bigger than I realised from the pictures online ... but it is pretty and sleek and works like a bomb. We love it!

So yeah, Wednesday was like an early, buy-it-yourself xmas in our house! Haha.

Yesterday. Well yesterday was a little crazy. I arrived home just after the hail started ... The Pajero has been sold so in theory there has been a single car-sized space in our double garage for a while now. Neither of us have used it. With no electric doors, garages are just a schlep. But, hail.

So in a mad scramble we got my car into the garage. But what about The Truckers? The hail was getting bigger! So we shoved and pushed the 4 seater couch (hopefully going next week!) and the queen mattress (going on Saturday) and all his bottles of beer around and squeeze the Polo in ... we couldn't close the door, but it was protected.

I was drenched after that. Our house has the dumbest design, the roof juts out a bit over the edge of the house, which is where one has to stand / walk under to open and get thru the front door o_0 It is a terribly impractical design for a Joburg house (thundershowers, hello, they've been happening for hundreds of years ... or more most likely). Not that I expect our new house, with only one undercover garage space, will be any better #sigh

Anyway, so I hopped into a hot bath and The Trucker, kindly, made me some hot choc. An excellent way to spend a hailstorm, if I do say so myself! He went to collect some of the giant hail from the garden (that's his had in the photo above). Sheesh, I haven't seen it this big since just after I moved up  to Jozi!

A little later, the boy headed out to grab some dinner (had such a craving for Pizza Perfect's Pepperoni pizza. About the closest I can get to Famous Famiglia!). He left his car out so we could close the garage. Until about an hour later when the 2nd storm arrived. I'm not kidding, after the first bout, it calmed enough to let Lily Bunny have a nice afternoon run and I even saw the sun shine!

This time we had to make another plan to try get the car in completely. More tetris-like moving of our full garage but we managed! Only to discover my new car was not left unscathed by the storm ... it has a dent or two in the bonnet and a bizarre spherical crack in the windscreen. Urgh. Hopefully windscreens are faster to fix than the panel beating I think most people are going to be needing after last night's storms (another came over in the night cause it woke us and we had to close the bathroom window!).

Seriously, it looks like someone used one of those glass-cutters you see in movies o_0

Hi, My Name is ...

So, it turns out that tomorrow is my Bloggerversary. I have been blogging for 7 years. Shew, where has the time gone?

I've got to know quite a lot of people thru my blogging, more so in the early days when the community was smaller. Bloggers tend to come and go, after 7 years, I imagine, it is quite an achievement to still be here. And to not be scarce on top of it. The longest breaks I tend to have are while I'm away, and I always make up for it when I get back :)

But the internet has changed and grown in that time too. And after 7 years of blogging pretty anonymously, I thought I'd introduce myself to celebrate this anniversary. It seems the way things are going, it's easier to relate to an actual real-life person than a pseudonym and an icon. So here I am.

Hello, my name is Phillipa and this is my blog :)

There is a snippet of my life in pics, the ones you haven't seen, the ones with me in them. (For a change these photos actually link somewhere ... to the relevant posts from when they were taken within the blog)

So, I'm still gonna stick with nicknames for the people I write about, but here I am, this is me. It's nice to finally meet you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For The Peeb ... I'll Try Harder

I seem to be writing quite a few Draft posts lately. Am not yet sure, as I start typing this one, if it'll end up the same. But here goes anyway ...

Life feels weird right now. A bit heavy, if I'm honest. There is a lot going on in my mind, and not about my life really. I guess it's all about perspective. And while I already know my life is pretty good, I still find plenty to gripe about in my day-to-day. Okay, let's be honest, that mostly has to do with relying on other people in the work place ... I don't really often have much to complain about in my life outside of the office. Oh, wait, there are also all those many, many Service Providers that never fail to annoy as well. Okay, but really, the rest of my life is really good :) <3

I know, I know, it's that whole Pyramid of needs thing, at it again. When you have the luxury of nothing else to bring you down, these small and trivial things can feel enormous. But it's good to sometimes get a wake-up call highlighting that they really are small and your life really is quite simple, easy even. Spoilt, perhaps. Spoilt with love (from both my lovely boy and my fabulous family), spoilt with luxury (hello, we just bought new cars and a new house!), spoilt with opportunity (a good job, those fantastic annual holidays), spoilt with activity (my weeks tend to be full and my weekends even more so, as no doubt you've read about here, packed to the brim with every interest or experience I can fit in).

Anyway, I digress, this wasn't really supposed to be about me, it was about the chasm between here and there.

I had a long conversation with my sister, The Peeb, yesterday. And, while that in itself is a pretty momentous occasion, that's not the point of this. It's more about the content. And trying to understand Life For Another. I don't think I'm very good at empathy. For some people, it's innate. It's not for me. I can sort of understand things as other people explain them, but if I fail to identify with them or haven't experienced anything remotely similar, I struggle with it. I guess it's probably like trying to understand how hard it is to stop smoking if you've never smoked (yeah, I don't get that at all). And I don't really have a clue what to do or say if someone close to someone else dies ... (aside from the truth: "I'm sorry").

I like to think I'm more interested in the plight of animals than people, I'm not terribly active with that either. Not like some other people I know. I am not explaining this very well.

Okay, okay so enough with the "I am a terrible person" narrative. My point is, that in the last 24hours I have had a lot to think about, and while I can't say I know how anyone is feeling, I have spent a lot of time thinking about it and trying to understand. And I won't lie, the stiffness I feel today, after 2 days at Boot Camp (of really trying to make up for missing last week), has given me a (albeit) minor inkling. But tomorrow I'll feel back to normal again.

The Peeb has probably recently arrived at a hospital in Cape Town for an operation later this afternoon. That is what she called to tell me last night, and that spiraled into many other discussions about her life and all the differences between our lives. We are sisters, but we've never been similar or close. The differences may always have been there, but living far away it's easy for me to forget how many and how real they are.

Aside from the superficial differences between us, she has more medical issues than I would wish on anyone. I asked her last night how many pills she takes in a day. It varies, but as she started reeling them off (not even getting to the final number), I realised how different our lives are. None of her pills are vitamins (well, maybe she throws in a few of those too, but you know what I mean). She needs all of them, some to make her life a little bit easier, to make sure she can physically get out of bed in the mornings, some to make her mood a little lighter, to make sure she wants to get out of bed in the mornings and even more to make sure she gets a few hours of sleep each night. I don't think I've even covered all of them o_0

Sure, I take a few things for my allergies, my birth-control ... but that is pretty much the extent of it. There is no experimenting with new dosages and new types. And aside from all the pills, there are the underlying things that she needs the pills for. Her life is much harder than mine. And, mostly, I've never really understood just how much.

I was grappling with all this when I read this article: Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense. And it also fell resoundingly into place for me.

In some ways they seem so related. When your day to day is consumed with the right here and now and just making it thru the day (as it sounds like The Peeb is often also doing), it's hard to worry about the rest of it.

I love the Spoon Theory, I've read it often, trying to relate to The Peeb's experience. But that's also hard. Often I feel like I have my own spoons which I run out of (particularly in those instances I mentioned above: the office, dealing with Service People) ... when it feels like you just can't anymore. And that's the problem. It's not at all like that. While I don't get to chose who I deal with and whether or not they will frustrate me, I can rebuild my spoon collection during the day. They are isolated instances, which we deal with in the moment and then they're gone.

Also she doesn't have a flashing counter on her head of remaining spoons for the day or a litmus indicator of how she's feeling on any given day, so it makes it hard to sometimes tell. And it's hard to ALWAYS remember she is experiencing life somewhat differently from the rest of us. Her priorities are different and for her it is just, quite simply, life. Same as we feel about our lives. She has a lot to be thankful for too, and I'm sure she probably is, when the other overwhelming bits of her life give her space to be. But we forget, and she lets us forget ... because my little Peeb doesn't talk about it much to us (her family, perhaps to other people?), and she never has. Like everyone else, we take our familiarity with family, who've known us our whole lives, for granted and I guess she just assumes we understand what it's like for her, every day. But I don't think any of us really do. It's been a very long time since we all lived together in one house, exposed daily to each other's magnified ups and downs. Forced to face them head-on.

And to be fair, she's rarely as chatty with us as she was with me last night, in that almost-hour-long phone call. I can count the times on my fingers. My go-to reaction when I saw her calling was, honestly, panic. She tends to phone me when people have died. That is when we truly draw together as sisters, when there is a family crisis. That's when we're really not so different after all.

I don't really know what I'm saying. But I feel sad today. Sad for the lives other people have, sad for changes they can't make and have no control over. I also feel lucky. Superbly lucky and blessed that I've had a storybook life (with the regular up and downs, but nothing I haven't managed to survive, yet).

My heart breaks that it's not like this for everyone ...

Author's note: I wrote this earlier today, but I waited to get the thumbs up from The Peeb before I hit publish. It is, after all, her story as much as mine.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Bone Thief by Jefferson Bass

It seems a routine case for Dr. Bill Brockton, the exhumation of a body to obtain a bone sample for a DNA paternity test. But a shocking discovery awaits Brockton and his colleagues when the coffin is opened: the corpse inside has been horribly violated. The grisly find embroils the Body Farm's founder in a dangerous investigation into a flourishing black market in body parts, as Brockton is recruited for an FBI sting to bring down a postmortem chop shop—using corpses from the Body Farm as bait.

But as he descends deeper into a ghoulish empire on the trail of a ruthless grave robber, Brockton faces a devastating choice that could compromise the investigation and place him in even graver peril. And for the sake of a damaged friend—a medical examiner who has lost his hands—Brockton may be forced to risk his principles, his freedom . . . and even his life.

Yip, yet another Body Farm novel and I flew thru it (as with the rest of them). I adore this whole series and it is a very easy read. Literally the sort of holiday novel I can devour over a weekend.

If you enjoy a little crime and mystery reading and you're looking for something light to read over your December break, I would highly recommend you try one of these!

* This book is part of the Body Farm series: Carved in Bone (2006), Flesh and Bone (2007), The Devil's Bones (2008), Bones of Betrayal (2009), The Bone Thief (2010), The Bone Yard (2011), ~Madonna and Corpse (2012), The Inquisitor's Key (2012), ~Jordan's Stormy Banks (2013), Cut to the Bone (2013)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spectacularly Relaxed

It was a surprisingly quiet weekend, actually. I know, I haven't said that in ages!

But literally, I napped for 2 hours after I got home on Friday night. The Trucker woke me at 7pm and we had a very thrown-together dinner and watched Red 2.

Meh, I don't remember being terribly impressed by the first one, aside from the star-studded cast. Which this one also had. Mary-Louise Parker's character was just painful o_0 And aside from that, the movie wasn't really worth mentioning. We haven't been to the cinema in absolute ages, but I don't feel like there has been too much worth seeing. I am still looking forward to, and have high hopes for, Elysium and Gravity.

On Saturday we tried a new breakfast spot. Dunno if you remember, but we've been on the look out since I'm a little over Doppio and there really is nothing worth mentioning in the Northgate Center. Plus my breakfast requirements are a little more adventurous than the cheapest meal I can find (ie. R20 breakfasts at the most lonely Newscafe in the world).

I'd read (I forget where now) about 2B Cuisine in Epsom Downs and how apparently they did a mean Eggs Benedict. Which is mostly what The Trucker has been eating at Doppio these days. So I added it to the list and we finally headed there on Saturday morning.

And let me tell you, we will definitely be going back! You know when you look at the menu and you simple can't decide what to order because too many things sound delish. That. I had the Aubergine Roulade with a poached egg and The Trucker had their Rolled Omelette. Mine was delish! Seriously, I could've done with an extra egg, but the aubergine stuffed with neopolitana sauce and cream cheese was sublime. Superb.

And I tried their Basil, Apple and Strawberry smoothie. Yum yum. Defintiely looking forward to trying more on their menu.

After that we headed home since I was off to an SCM Baby Shower and The Trucker was meeting a man about our kitchen (eep!). I had an awesome afternoon at the baby shower, with a lovely bunch of girls. The funniest thing happened tho, not a single person there (8 of us?) has had kids yet and at one point we were swapping pet-stories. Haha. I guess that's how it goes ;)

Then I got home and The Trucker had had a busy afternoon, busy bottling his next batch of beers (an IPA and an Amber Ale), he was making rolls from the sourdough he's been cultivating all week and there was a pot of Beef Trinchado on the stove. The house smelt amazing!

So, the sourdough rolls didn't turn out quite the way he was hoping (he wanted to use them as bowls like we did in San Francisco), but the Trinchado was amazing! I know he'd made it for me once before in the early days, and I wasn't completely blown away (although I thought it was good, I think because I would generally prefer chicken over beef). But this time. Wow. He can make this again anytime. Soo good. And turned out to be even better the next day.

We watched Man of Steel. Well, I watched the first hour & a half and went to bed for the last hour. Couldn't keep my eyes open (and the movie wasn't exactly riveting).

On Sunday we got our grocery shopping out the way and then I had a very lazy afternoon at home while The Trucker went to play cricket.

See, such a lazy weekend for me. Much needed too :)

Oh and I discovered a cool new service I didn't know about: Travelex now lets you reserve your foreign currency online and then you can collect it at their airport store before you go. How handy is that! Damn now I'm dreaming of Holiday 2014 again and it is still completely unlikely :(

Apparently you also get a better conversion rate by reserving the cash in advance. Not sure exactly how the whole FICA thing works for that, but it sounds way more convenient than missioning to get your cash before you go. I've always found that to be a total hassle!

Friday, November 22, 2013

She Has Arrived!

Finally, it's Friday. I was seriously disappointed both yesterday morning when I woke up and realised it was only Thursday AND again this morning when I woke up and it still wasn't Saturday o_0 Especially in this gorgeous rain. It was harder than hard to drag myself up out of bed this morning ... Perfect snoozy weather for sleeping late and staying warm under the duvet.

But, instead, here I am, in the office. But aside from feeling like a dreadfully long week, it has been a pretty damn good one. It started off mediocre but with the arrival of my new car, it improved dramatically :)

I headed to the Doc on Monday afternoon. Time for that pesky Rubella (German Measles) vaccination. Easy peasy. Way better these days that that hideous giant booster shot we got aged 6! Unfortunately, did you know that there are currently no Varicella (Chicken Pox) vaccines in South Africa! There is currently a shortage. The Doc said they had a 1000 come in a while back (for The Whole Country), but they've (of course) run out again now. So I couldn't get that. Marginally concerned, but not majorly since I did actually have that one as a kiddie. But still, I seem to be one of the 20-30% of people that lose their immunity (as per the Rubella anti-bodies that are lacking in my blood), so wanted to just get it as an in case.

Anyhoo, I figured, while I was there I'd get him to try burning off a wart on my thumb that has been bugging me. He tried to burn it off earlier in the year but nothing changed. This time he dry-iced me for a full minute. I nearly died! I had some serious fingernail indentations in my palm, let me tell you!

This has been the least fun part of my week. It was so sore for the first few days. And I still can't bend my thumb. It looks to be a serious blood blister (or something) brewing under there ... I hope the wart falls off soon! Have skipped boot cap this week because of fear of bumping the damn thing (it hurts so much when that happens!) and because of the lack of movement. Thumbs are far more useful and required in everyday life than I realised before. Take care of them. And, typically, this is on my right hand, the hand I pretty much use for everything o_0. At least it is looking less swollen and red today.

So yes, that was about the entirety of the "downside" of my week. After the visit to the Doc (did I mention I sat in the waiting room for over an hour ...) I headed off to collect my new car. Whoop whoop.

Let me say, whatever reservations I may previously had about the Honda Jazz (based solely on my experience driving a much older model and the 1.3), have been replaced by pure joy. Even The Trucker likes my car better ;)

OMG I absolutely adore it. Happy to take my car whenever we go out now. Haha.

Socially it's been a fairly quiet week. I went to SCM on Tuesday. The Trucker has been working late (although at home). And last night we went for Sushi with some friends at Cedar Square. We had such a blast ... after that massive storm calmed itself.

When we arrived it was still dry, then the rain came and the other outdoor tables moved in from the edge of the balcony (they were getting sprayed). And then the gusting started. Sheesh. It was insane. We were up against the wall of the restaurant, so mostly protected. But watched chairs being moved across the floor by the wind. Glad I wasn't driving in that!

Interesting discussion for the architects, we live in Joburg, where it's known for some pretty epic thunderstorms. Designing a mall with a permanently open roof seems a little short-sighted. I know it's probably only raining a marginal amount of the time, really. But when it is, there is barely any where to keep dry. Especially when the wind is blowing the rain around the way it did last night. Ah, the irony of the tables we were sitting at being outside but the parking for our cars being underground. Which, I was still definitely happy about, so nervous of my new car vs. the hail o_0

Oh, but before we went for dinner I made some Rice Krispie treats. I was buying the pre-made ones and got a little addicted so decided I'd just make them. Did you know you can add peanut butter to the mixture. Yummy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thomas Quick - The Making of a Serial Killer by Hannes Råstam

'I wonder what you'd think of me if you found out that I've done something really serious ...' So begin the confessions of Thomas Quick - Scandinavia's most notorious serial killer. In 1992, behind the barbed wire fence of a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane, Thomas Quick confessed to the murder of an eleven-year-old boy who had been missing for twelve years. Over the next nine years, Quick confessed to more than thirty unsolved murders, revealing he had maimed, raped and eaten the remains of his victims. In the years that followed, a fearless investigative journalist called Hannes Rastam became obsessed with Quick's case. He studied the investigations in forensic detail. He scrutinised every interrogation, read and re-read the verdicts, watched the police re-enactments and tracked down the medical records and personal police logs - until finally he was faced with a horrifying uncertainty. In the spring of 2008, Rastam travelled to where Thomas Quick was serving a life sentence. He had one question for Sweden's most abominable serial killer. And the answer turned out to be far more terrifying than the man himself...

I'd be remiss not to start this review by saying that I was completely hooked after just reading the preface. The whole concept absolutely blew my mind. And, without question, it scored major "look up more information after reading" points.

I still can't wrap my head around the fact that this story is true. Forget just true, recent! In fact, Sture Bergwell (aka Thomas Quick) was only acquitted for the last of the 8 murders he was convicted of with his false confessions in July. This. Year.

I would definitely recommend this book, although it does get a little tedious and repetitive in the middle (only because there was just so much detail and so many cases and convictions to work thru). It continuously amazed me how the lawyers and detectives and therapists engineered the convictions. I still can't actually comprehend how it happened, were they so motivated by the accolades that they were blinded to the truth?

Frightening that this could actually happen.

Just last week I saw an article about how, for the first time, a prosecutor is being sent to jail for wrongfully convicting someone. Wait, remind me which is the prosecutor? Oh right, he's the guy trying to prove the defendant did it. 

The world needs more people like Hannes Rastam, with such tenacity, and I was sad to read he'd died (in Jan 2012) before his book was published.

* This is one of my Featured Book Reviews, sponsored by Penguin Books.
Read more here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hurricane Philly

Shew. Good thing we did nothing but laze on the couch on Sunday afternoon from about 3pm ... because this weekend was non-stop! Seriously. (Beginning to feel like I might say this every Monday morning - haha). Just as well Russell Brand was cancelled (we had tickets for Sunday evening). Although what a completely dumb move by him (as someone who has had to renew her passport early because of lack of empty pages) and now I have the admin of getting a refund from Computicket o_0.

On Friday afternoon I raced home. I had high hopes of making it to the bank in time ... but nope, even in 2013, banking hours are still ONLY suited to stay-at-home mom's and freelancers. Seriously? How can there be no one in banking who has a little think to themselves and says "Hey, I wonder how we can improve our service (you know, instead of wearing those Dumb TShirts that say "Tell me how I can move your banking forward", cough, Standard Bank, cough) ... maybe if one day of the week we only opened at 11:30 and stayed open till 7pm. Do you think anyone who, like, has a job would appreciate that?". Harumph. Honestly. My mind boggles.

Look I realise that in-branch banking is no doubt everyone's least favourite task *ever*. But unfortunately, they still force us to brave the never-ending queues and the slowest-writer-ever lady behind the counter who isn't all that interested in solving your problem for you. Bah humbug. I hate the banks. I hate that we consider them a necessary evil and I hate that there is nothing we can do but tolerate whatever they decide.

So yeah, arriving at an early-for-anything-else 4pm turned out the be too late for banking. I was really hoping to be able to do my car payment in the hopes of getting my new car on Saturday morning. But I guess it'd have to wait.

So I headed home, where I started on the "stocking-filler" I had in mind (which is now, done and dusted and ordered ... can not wait to see how they came out. In the usual fashion, I had to order one for myself (duh!), one for mom, one for The Peeb and one for my gran).

The Trucker also got home pretty early and set us to work. He started on some sour-dough. Which he has been watching like a good parent all weekend. Ever since we had them in San Francisco he has been wanting to make some bowls for trinchado.

And we set to work turning the remaining 15kg of apples and 3 kg of pears into cider. We now have 3 different flavours, each in 10L containers, fermenting away. Sheesh, but it is messy and a lot of effort! Team work FTW. But let me tell you, they better taste AMAZING.

I popped out to grab us some take out for dinner and then one of The Trucker's friends popped round for a drink. She only ended up leaving at about 11 after a wonderful evening sitting outside and sipping on home brewed beers.

And on Saturday we were up early to try to get back to the bank. Where they refused to do the transfer because they couldn't confirm the funds (which had reflected in my account on Friday) o_0 Biggest. Waste. Of. Time. Did I mention how much I despise in-branch banking?

So I was in a mood, we were in a rush because although we had an hour & half before The Trucker had to head off to his AGM, we only made it by the skin of our teeth. There would be no new cars for us today. But we should (barring any other annoying incidents) be collecting them this afternoon! Yay for us :) But still, until the keys are in my hands, I remain skeptical ... there is always SOMETHING o_0

Then The Trucker went off to his AGM and I headed off to get some Xmas shopping done. The Peeb: *tick* and my bloggirls Secret Santa gift is sorted now too!

When The Trucker got back, we headed to CTM to look at tiles for our future bathroom. I think we have a winner. We picked wall & floor tiles, the wall decoration mosaics and in-shower mosaics. Love.

And then we headed to the new house (we asked the agent if she could leave the keys for us, since it is empty) to do some measuring.

@ironyandgum came over to check out The Trucker's couches which we wanted to sell. Although on Sunday we went to browse Coricraft for our future couch and OMG couch prices have sky-rocketed! Over 10k for pretty much everything. When our favourite actually turned out to be the exact same style as the ones we currently own just in a different colour, we changed our tune and started asking about just buying the new covers and having the cushions re-stuffed ... This seems like the much saner option, although we still need to sell one of his (the new house would *never* fit a 3- and a 4-seater!). So yeah, that was a bit of a rude wake-up call!

We popped home after reveling in the new house and our vision and had a quick shower before heading out to DJMike's Xmas Party. Always such an awesome evening with incredible food (like every year). This year we took crackers and The Trucker's fabulous cheesecake. It was a hit. Last one in this house of theirs as they've also bought and are busy renovating, and should move to their new place before the end of the year. Wow we really are all growing up! Haha.

On Sunday The Trucker headed to an early LMS game and I went for breakfast at Munch with @WhizBangLouLou. I'm not gonna lie, I'm unlikely to head back. Their website is ridiculous with pages of copy saying "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet" and "Pictures to be inserted here". Did they fire their web designer and just put it live, unfinished. Very unimpressive.And then the service was not great. And the food was very average.

But, that said, it was lovely to catch up with her. When The Trucker got home, we got our grocery shopping out the way and had our eye-popping visit to Coricraft before heading to meet a friend of his for lunch at Primi Lifestyle.

Friday, November 15, 2013

04 October: New York to Johannesburg

We were up with our alarm at 6am, managed to be showered and out before 7! Lugged our bags to the nearby subway and headed to Howard Beach.

Good news, apparently the Sky Train was working again, although it was offering a slightly slower than usual service, we had to wait for the 3rd one to find one that was In Service. Fine for us since we'd given ourselves so much time before our flight, but there were some pretty annoyed people waiting there with us.

And then it was pretty easy to drop our bags and go thru TSA at Terminal 4. So we hunted down some breakfast. McDonalds was the nearest option and so we had our first (and last) for the trip. We each had a Egg, Bacon & Cheese McGriddle (they have McMuffins, McGriddles & Biscuits ... turns out a McGriddle is like a crumpet ... much better than those awful McMuffins!). And I had a Frappachino :)

The Trucker almost caved when he saw there was a Shake Shack around Gate 35 (or therebouts), but it was quite a bit more expensive than what we'd paid yesterday! He did actually consider getting one to go for on the plane tho o_0 Haha.

And then we wandered, up and down thru all the duty free shops. Almost bought myself a Marc Jacobs miniatures set ... but declined the urge after my bag purchase last night ;)

Eventually it was time to board. 11h15 in New York, 17h15 in Joburg and a 15 hour flight. We got a meal just after we took off, I had the Vegetarian "Spinach" Lasagne (no spinach that I could find) which was nice, but I definitely had order envy over The Trucker's Shepard's Pie.

Unfortunately we didn't get much sleep on this flight, the plane was booked solid so not a seat to spare. I started with The Lone Ranger. It wasn't as terrible as I had been expecting (from what I'd heard), but I'm glad I didn't go to the big screen to see it.

And then I managed to get a few hours of sleep before watching After Earth. Utter rubbish. Seriously, the "Earth" part is like the most irrelevant part of the story. And Will Smith's kid is a bit annoying, to be honest. And then, when the credits played, I realised it was a Midnight Shyamalan ... why did I bother. I did vow to never waste precious hours of my life on this man's continuously deteriorating movie list.

Tried to sleep a little more, and then started watching The Heat, while they served a very average breakfast. I'd actually like to finish watching this one.

We landed on Saturday morning and got thru customs and collected our bags with no trouble. When we unpacked later tho, there was no cable-tie on his zip and the TSA had left a nice little "random inspection" note inside. Pity they'd repacked so badly and some of my Lindt were squashed :(

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Altogether Goodness

Good Morning Everyone! So it has been a pretty damn fine week over here.

We got some amazing news on Tuesday morning, our bond application has been accepted by both FNB & Standard Bank! Cue cheers of joy and sighs of relief. Okay so I wasn't *really* worried, but banks can be weird and I was a little nervous, what with the 2 other bonds I have ...

Anyhoo, now that we don't have to worry about that, we start the rate-wars. No one is offering us prime or below o_0 It seems to get higher with every bond I have. *sad face*. But we will survive and I guess this kinda makes it official, we've bought a home together. I can NOT wait to start the renovations & get moved in. I think we'll be very happy there.

And there'll be a little Schnauzer puppy in our future too! Life is coming together spectacularly well. I can not believe how things have changed over the past year. Shew, I am one lucky, loved girl. *counts blessings*

The other amazing news that came in on Tuesday (I know, right!) was that the Car Dealership went for our double-trade-in deal. So I'm getting a 2011 Honda Jazz and The Trucker is getting a 2011 Polo 1.4 Comfortline. Waiting for his finance to be sorted.

I'm taking some money out of ancient savings, started my my grandparents / folks (I was young so I have no idea, but some savvy person! Thanks guys :) ) for this car. I feel very annoyed that I paid it off last year and I'm not getting much more in the trade-in. So a residual is definitely not the way I want to go this time!

My Financial Adviser recommended that I rather take the money from the savings (to quote: that's what it's there for) and make my "repayments" back into there than take out finance on the car and make the repayments back to the bank (you end up paying a fortune more than it cost upfront! I learnt this the hard way last time). Still, it is a bit overwhelming watching my savings deplete like this all in one go!

Between the car and the lawyers and renovations for the house, that will be about all my savings flattened. I do not see a holiday in my future next year :( Which is a super pity as I was looking forward to one last big one (Australia & NZ) before we started on babies ... but I guess this is me being responsible, houses, cars ... Haha.

What else happened this week (honestly all that good news left the rest seeming quite insignificant). My little Peeble had her birthday. I skipped SCM Dinner. The Trucker has been out both evenings, so it has been Dinner For One at my house.

Last night I tried a new recipe for Baked Aubergine that I saw on Food Porn. The Trucker is not the biggest fan of aubergine so it seemed like a good opportunity.

Once they were baked, I decided to turn them into a sort of Melanzane. Not as delish as a baked one, obvs, but still I enjoyed it nonetheless. Next time remember to spend less time letting the food cool down while you try to get the perfect Instagram shot o_0 HAHA.

Basically after baking the aubergine, I layered it with some Neapolitan sauce I found in the fridge and some grated Slimmers Choice Cheddar (from Woolies, consider this the Diet Coke to my Big Mac & Fries, considering how much oil is used to prepare the aubergine!). I repeated the stack once and then sprinkled on some parmesan we had. I baked 2 medium-sized aubergines, so had the luxury of only using "the middles" in my meal ... the skin was a little chewy, I probably could've left it baking a little longer. I've decanted the unused olive oil & balsamic vinegar into a jar that is now in the fridge, seemed a waste to throw it all away, am sure I could use it again soon.

Oh, and the other thing ... it may sound weird, based on how completely awesome my life is right now, but are other things currently on my mind that are getting me down. Mostly it's my blog :( It's not me writing, so a sabbatical won't help ... But this post is long enough already and I need to let this swirl a little longer. So maybe next week? In the meantime, you can boost my spirit by a) interacting with me in the comments b) checking out (and even liking) my (now regularly updated) facebook page c) saying hi on twitter and d) following me on instragram. I guess I'm feeling a little lonely online ... so it'd be nice to know who's reading. Is anybody out there? It's me, Philly.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

03 October: Bermuda to New York

Today I woke up before the alarm, at 8:15am. It was hot already! Of course the day we leave is the most spectacular day.

We packed our stuff and headed to the airport at 10am. OMG There isn't a single other airport I've been to where I've walked straight up to the counter because there hasn't been another person there! What a pleasure - haha.

Did I mention I've been able to make an awesome contribution to my Currency Collection while here :) They updated their currency 2 years ago and I managed to get a couple of the older notes as well. Winning.

We got a quick bite to share at the airport and that was the end of Bermuda for us. Loved that there are Bermuda Shorts on their terminal building - haha!

So, the US Government shut-down had been weighing on our minds for the last couple of days and we'd been checking online all morning. We were a little worried that the Empire State Building may be closed since we held our tickets over to use tonight. But it seems to be open. Apparently Alcatraz has been closed tho - shew, I would've been livid!

Our flight was quite quick and the bonus of gaining an hour in NY to finish off the last things we wanted to do was much needed since the Airtrain was not working and we had to catch a bus to Federal Circle.

Very tedious, but we made it to our AirBnb host's apartment on John Street before 3pm. Again, thank goodness for the late closing hours of everything here!

We dropped off our bags and immediately headed out with a tight whirlwind schedule in mind for our last afternoon.

First we popped into Starbucks on our way to the subway. Loving the frappuccinos. This time I tried a pumpkin spice one, of course - haha!

Turns out we're staying really close to the World Trade Center so we saw the new building but there is a ton of construction on our side. More like just walked past, didn't really get an up-close look.

First, we took the E-Line to our nearest Shake Shack for our last Shake Burger. And so The Trucker could compare it with In n Out, again. Hard to say. I guess it's good they aren't in the same states tho :) Yummy. So glad we discovered them.

The downside was that I realised we'd left the Empire State Building tickets in the other backpack ... at home. I'd even almost left the camera when we first headed out, but I luckily remember that as we closed the door.

So annoying! So The Trucker headed back to fetch them while I took a walk back to the Lindt store we'd visited before to get myself a variety bag!

Later, he met me at the Lindt store (can you believe there are 2 pretty much across 5th Ave from each other, it caused a little confusion) after a surprise stop off at the Double Tree Hotel to sneak us 2 of their chocolate chip biscuits. He'd had them on a previous trip to NY and had raved about them. And after tasting them, I can quite agree, they are amazing!

We took a wander and went for a look in the MoMA store. Such pretty things :)

And then we continued, walking our way towards the Empire State. We passed a Desigual store which I dragged us into. I remembered it's amazing items from my trip to London. OMG, I could've bought so much! Well, not really, because I just can't spend over R1000 on a little dress.

But, that said, I did fall in love with one of their bags, two actually, but I picked one to buy *squeal* And I adore it! Okay so it was also R1000 but a bag probably has more longevity if you ask me. Consider this a last-of-the-holiday-money splurge - haha.

Then we got to the Empire State Building, again. Wow. I am so glad we shelved the idea and saved our tickets for tonight. It wasn't clear, but the cloud cover was much higher, so our views were perfect.

There was just about no queuing and not just because we'd already bought our tickets.

Shew, it is a spectacular sight to see the lights of New York at night from the 86th floor. So lovely. And what a cherry on top to end our holiday with!

After we were done, we crossed to 8th street for one last Famous Famiglia pepperoni pizza slice, or two. Seriously, this might be my favourite pizza place ever! And why doesn't South Africa sell pizza by the slice? Such a fabulous idea.

We caught the subway home and collapsed into bed ... my feet were killing me after just one afternoon here again!

Set the alarms for 6am tomorrow morning. Home time.

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