Friday, December 23, 2011

Moving: A Late Account


A couple of weeks ago, when I was still without Internet, I wrote the following post and never ended up posting it. I thought that it was about time.

Our new house from the road.

I have a love-hate relationship with moving, as I think many people would have. You see, I love the excitement that comes with a new house, trying to decide where things will go, buying new curtains and odds and ends to make a house a home. But the act of moving itself is both stressful and exhausting. This time was no different.

Our lounge before the lounge suite arrived.

Considering the number of times that I have moved over the last couple of years, I thought that I was becoming quite the expert. I moved from Cape Town to Grahamstown, from res to my digs on Cross street, from Cross street to Grant's digs on African street (even if it was only for 12 days), from African street back to Cape Town, from Cape Town to Korea, from Korea back to Cape Town and from Cape Town back to African street. Each time boxes were packed, cars were filled and the moving took place within a few hours. There were odds and ends to buy – a computer when I moved into res, a bed when I moved into digs, etc – and then there was unpacking and settling in, which would always take a few days. I thought I had the packing up, moving and unpacking thing down to a T. I was wrong.

What is to become Grant's bar.

First of all, while you can prepare and pack in advance, there are some things that you cannot control. Take our situation for example. I had been well prepared and had arranged with the previous tenants that we could start moving in the weekend before the actual move. You know, just taking over some boxes to make things on the day a bit easier. They were moving out on the Saturday into the home that they were building for themselves, and so I had phoned a month before and arranged that someone would be there on Sunday so that we could bring in some of our stuff. Awesome planning ahead, I thought! And then the Friday rolled around. Two days before we were supposed to get moving, I phoned the tenant to make sure that everything was going according to plan. And it wasn't. Due to recent rains, their house was not finished which meant that they couldn't start moving out and we couldn't start moving in. Which meant that Thursday was going to be a busy busy day. So much for my master plan.

Our kitchen (a slightly wonky photo, I admit).

And then Thursday dawned. And due to pure laziness on all of our parts (me being no exception) we were not finished packing. Not only that, but the weather decided to play a cruel joke on us and, despite the beautifully boiling Summer day that had graced us on Wednesday, we were woken up on Thursday at 6:30am by thunder, lightning and torrential rainfall. Perfect moving weather, no? It wreaked havoc with the moving process, as things like beds needed to be move in the brief gaps between downpours. And so, as the boys (Grant and Jono) braved the weather, I was left behind in the house to finish off the packing and look after the Puddims who was most perturbed by the movement all around him and his favourite play toys (ie. Our belongings) being packed up and shipped out. By 5pm, nine hours after we started, we were ready to make a final trip with our last few bits and bobs and Puddims and were all soaked to the bone.

The bedroom that Grant and I share (Jono's was a mess and the study was where Natalie was staying, so photos of these will need to come later.)

And then the fun started as we began to explore our new home. When we made the decision to rent the house, it was on a whim. We had taken a five minute tour around the  place and decided that it was the best we were going to get, and so we said we'd take it. That was way back in August, and we hadn't seen the place since. Our vision of what it was like was starting to become blurred, and I was getting nervous that the house was not going to be all that I had imagined. And then we arrived. Now, no house is ideal, but this one is pretty close to perfect for us. Sure, the carpets are a bit grubby, sure there was a cockroach or two in the cupboard that made my skin crawl, but these were minor irritations compared to the pleasure of having a giant garden, a large lounge, a dining room/bar, a kitchen big enough to fit a dining room table and chairs and enough cupboard space for an army.

Our en-suite bathroom. 

The house is not particularly modern, and the rooms are a fair amount smaller than what we are used to, but there are other benefits to staying in this house. Benefits like a gorgeous, modern, recently renovated en-suite bathroom which may be small, but is absolutely beautiful. Benefits like a patio perfect for a braai even when it is raining (we tested it – it works!) Benefits like a garage to park our cars in. And finally, benefits like two stunning gardens – one in the front and one in the back – filled with fruit trees and flowers. I had forgotten just how big the garden was, and walking around the back of the house, I was amazed at just how much space there was. The garden at our house in African street was not particularly small, but compared to this it was piddling. We have lemon trees galore, a plum tree, a peach tree and, I suspect, an orange tree. Mike (Beans) is also fairly sure that we have a nectarine tree buried in amidst the others. On top of that we have gooseberries, chives, a small hibiscus, a strelitzia and a tree around front that has the most beautiful white flowers. We also have numerous palms and a loquat tree that reminds me of home. Oh, and did I mention that we are paying less rent here than we were before?

The front garden from our patio

The back garden, with Natalie reading a book on the steps. Some of the flowers that were found in the back garden are below. From left to right a hibiscus, a strelitzia and a passion fruit flower.



Anyway, enough of the bragging and on to the stories. After a stressful day of moving, packing and unpacking I had a nice early night since, unlike the boys, I had to be at work on Friday morning. It was the last thing that I wanted to do, but I made my way into the office and sat down to the longest day of work ever. It was almost impossible to concentrate as in between answering phone calls and emails, there were the phone calls from Grant himself, first in excitement that Puddims had used his catbox (we had been worried that he had found somewhere in the house when we woke  up on Friday morning to find the litter untouched), and then to ask about phone numbers and furniture. At lunch I met up with the boys for a bit of furniture shopping. One aspect of the house that can be considered as a downfall is that we have to buy all of our furniture as the house is completely unfurnished and has only come with a stove/oven that does not work very well. This does mean that we get to pick the furniture and move it with us when we move houses, but it is also incredibly expensive decking a house out, and my photography studio is going to have to wait a few months until we can afford to start work on it. After picking out a dining room set, a coffee table, outdoor furniture, a cabinet for the lounge and new curtains, it was time to head back to work where I finished off the day watching the clock and waiting for the stroke of five.

 (Above: Mike and Danika enjoying the relaxing weekend braai)

Saturday started early with unpacking the last big boxes and picking the necessities from the small ones before packing them away in cupboards and making the house presentable for our friends who were coming over to help us put things up. We bribed them with a braai, which Vicky and I ended up making and cooking on while the boys (Grant, Jono, Enzo and Mike) ran cabling through the roof and hung (skew) mirrors on the walls. By the time work was done, food was ready and we ate way too much as is the tendency at braais before settling in to watch some TV and play some board games.


(Above: Danika chasing Piddles around the golf course and Puddims enjoying a hard-earned golf ball).

On Sunday, we woke up a little later only to find that the electricity was out. This, of course, led to us freaking out. Had the municipality cut us off? We hadn't received our final electricity bill for November, so we suspected that they might have and, because it was early morning and the sun was shining rather brightly, there was no way of telling if the neighbours were having the same problem. This utterly flummoxed Grant whose first action of the morning was to go and turn on the kettle and looked at us as though we were crazy when we told him he couldn't have his coffee. By lunchtime, there was still no power and, thanks to a number of phonecalls, we found out that this was not a localised problem – the whole of town was out. Which meant that another braai was in order. We brought out the leftovers and bought a little more to add to it, and invited people round for yet another braai, which was made by the boys (Grant and Mike with Tom putting in his two cents worth every now and then) this time around. It was, once again, followed by board games and, when the electricity had still not returning at 4:30, a walk on the golf course with Mike and Vicky's appropriately named puppy, Piddle. A light dinner was in order as, by 7:30 we were feeling peckish again (not having gone overboard with the braai like the last time) and Natalie, Jono's visiting sister, suggested sushi. We all jumped at the opportunity and the weekend came to an abrupt halt with a final meal of sushi and a movie that Natalie and I picked out.




 (Above: Puddims helping to pack and making his first escape).

And so the weekend of moving came to an end with all of us feeling that this house was more of a home. It certainly feels like more of a home to me than the house on African street did, as that always had the air of men around it, Grant and Jono having lived there for over a year before I moved in. Even Puddims has made himself at home and has started being let out for walk abouts. The first time this happened, we kept a watchful eye on him, until he wandered too close to the neigbour's garden, not noticing their dog, and got the fright of his life when it approached him. Off he sped, straight back into the house, and from that moment, we knew that he had decided this was his safe spot. I think we’ve decided that it’s ours too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Telkom


So it is time for my bitch and complaint session of the month, also known as my rant. Often my rants end up being about random things that have been on my mind, but this month my rant is directed at someone. Not someone as in a person, but someone as in a company. And it’s a company that pretty much everyone in South Africa bitches about – Telkom.

I have had my issues with Telkom in the past. For example, earlier this year when my parents Internet suddenly died and I was put in charge of contacting Telkom to resolve the situation.
“No,” they said. “It is not us. It is your router.”
“It is not our router,” I responded. “The router is sinking perfectly. If it was the router, the light would not be flashing. If it was the router, our computer guy and my boyfriend who works for an ISP would not tell us unequivocally that this is a Telkom problem.”
“No,” they said. “It is not us. It is your router.”
“Send a technician out then,” I replied. “We will PAY for the technician if we are wrong.”
“Okay,” they said. “We will send a technician to [ENTER WRONG ADDRESS HERE].”
“That is not where we live.”
“But your telephone number is [ENTER CORRECT TELEPHONE NUMBER HERE].”
“Yes.”
“Then you live at [ENTER WRONG ADDRESS HERE].”
“No.”
“Yes.”
“That is the wrong address! We have never lived there! The only other account that we have with you is for my father’s company which isn’t at that address and never has been!”
“Oh.”
*Glare*

This battle of wits continued for a solid three days of me phoning Telkom and telling them to send someone out to fix the problem to no avail. On day four, however, a technician miraculously appeared. Not because of my phoning in. No. Because Grant had convinced someone at work to phone in on our behalf and send someone out. The technician brought in a router and plugged it in… only to find that it didn’t work. Which is what I had been telling them.
“Oh,” was his response.
Half an hour later, it was discovered that our wire linked to the neighbour’s telephone pole and something had gone wrong. It took another 20 minutes to resolve and then we had internet again. Hooray! While he was fixing our line, I was standing in the front garden and happened to witness another guy who was driving past screech to a halt, swiftly reverse and stop in the middle of the road outside our house, climb out of his car and come running towards me screaming: “WHERE IS HE?” It turns out that we were not the only ones having Telkom issues in the neighbourhood.

So, knowing how much of a pain Telkom can be, when we decided to move to a new house and we learned that we were going to need a new phone number (the old tenants were migrating the line with them but, of course, leaving the infrastructure), I insisted that we place the order for the phone line ASAP. We went to Telkom in the first week of November and ordered the line and ADSL upgrade, and even though we were not impressed that we were going to be paying for an installation when all of the equipment was already there, we did not complain. We asked that everything be sorted out by 01 December, and on 01 December, lo and behold, the technician arrived. We were most impressed! We were told that it would take a couple of days for the ADSL line to be active, and we were pleased. Sure, we wouldn’t have internet for a couple of days, but we could live with that.

A week passed and we still hadn’t heard anything from them. Grant had been emailing the Telkom rep in Grahamstown and she was being really apologetic about it, but there was nothing that she could do. Each time we asked, she phoned Telkom and was told that it would take a few more days, information which she then passed on to us. By Friday (a week and a day after the line was installed), I was getting irritated. Not wanting to bug Surita more than was necessary, I decided to contact Telkom directly. I spent half an hour waiting in the queue before finally being seen to, was then informed that it should be done on Monday and that Surita would contact us. Most frustrating, but at least we had been given a date.

Monday came and went with no ADSL. On Tuesday (now a month after we had first placed the order) we were told that we had been given an installation date of 23 December. We were furious! Working at an ISP, we know what is involved in enabling ADSL on a line. It involves walking into the exchange, signing a couple of papers, finding the line, unplugging it and plugging it in elsewhere. It should take no more than 15 minutes and yet – 23 DECEMBER! Surita, once again, was most apologetic and promised to do all that she could to get it done sooner. Surita, we have decided, is magic. On Thursday we were told that the ADSL had been enabled and we were practically jumping for joy. It was still not working at home though, so Grant ran off to Telkom to get a phone and went back to the house to test it. Only to be met by the dull BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP that indicates a dead line. A dead line that told us that the installation that was done on 01 December had not been done correctly. A dead line that indicated that the bill that we had already received for the line rental might as well be torn into tiny little eetsy beetsy bits since there was no way in hell that we were going to be paying for a landline that we couldn’t have used even if we wanted to.

It is now almost a week later and we have finally been told that a technician has been sent to work on the problem. It has been most painful getting hold of Telkom to discuss the matter with them, since the Grahamstown branch is in fact closing and are therefore no longer answering their phones and phoning the main branch in Johannesburg leads me to want to shoot my work phone. Here’s hoping that this is the end of it, but something tells me that it really isn’t and that there are long struggles with Telkom ahead. In the meantime, I am not happy with the service I have received and if I were rating the company, I would give them 1 star. Not that it would make any difference, of course. Practically everyone in the country complains about Telkom and nothing comes of it. I was tempted to write a complaint on HelloPeter (something that I was reluctant to do because I have issues with HelloPeter, a story for another time) but I doubt that they would even bother responding to that. They have a terrible reputation and they are doing nothing to better it. And so I will just rant on my blog where no one is likely to pay attention, but at least I get my frustrations out in the open. /end Rant.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Deck the Halls!


I love this time of the year, and I know that is a little weird what with me being Jewish and all, but it is true. Christmas always brings back the best memories – decorating the Christmas tree with Granny Ellen, baking (and eating) mince pies and Christmas pudding, Christmas lunches with Uncle Ashley and my mom’s side of the family and, on the few occasions that I haven’t been home, spending Christmas with friends.

This year, Grant and I are staying in Grahamstown, which means that we aren’t going to be with our families. Our friends are spreading out around the country to celebrate with their own families, some going to Zimbabwe or Cape Town and others just visiting nearby Boknes. Even Jono (our housemate) is travelling to Limpopo to be with his family, leaving Grant and I on our own! This will be a first for me. But we weren’t going to let that get us down! All that it really meant is that we had to celebrate Christmas earlier than usual this year, while our friends and family are around!

This last week has been the week of Christmas for us. The festivities started on Wednesday with a Christmas/Birthday dinner at Mike and Vicky’s. Vicky has always seen her birthday as the start of the Christmas season, since it was only after her birthday that her family started putting up the trees and decorations and started getting ready for Christmas proper. So what better time to celebrate the festive season than with a Birthday dinner including all of the Christmas favourites? Well, some of the favourites and some of their own modern twists! Dinner kicked off with homemade sushi which was followed by a turkey-sized chicken, gammon, roasted sweet potatoes and veg. Once we were all filled to the brim, it was Secret Santa time and we unwrapped gifts galore before finishing off the night with some mince pies and custard. Yum!

With Friday being a public holiday, Thursday became the Friday of the week and we were all in great moods by the end of the day. Grant was in a particularly good mood as his dad and stepmom were arriving on Thursday evening. A little shuffling was in order as Jono’s sister was also staying with us at the time, but with a ton of space in the new house it was no problem getting everything in order! Natalie moved into what will soon be Grant’s bar and Grant’s dad moved into our Study with Sharon. Everything was back in order and our long weekend began with a trip to the driving range where Rob, Grant, Jono, Natalie and I swung away at golf balls. It has been way too long since I last did this and I was completely out of practice – picture balls bouncing in every direction but at the course – but by the end of it I was back in the swing of things and balls were flying into the distance (though not nearly as far as Rob’s, Grant’s and Jono’s. Clearly I need more practice.) Having had a late breakfast of scrambled eggs, no one was particularly hungry at lunch time, but we made up for it by having a homemade lasagne dinner which was delicious as always.

Saturday dawned nice and early as Sharon and I had to drive Jono and Natalie to PE airport stopping for some coffee, some shopping and a Nanaga break on our way. When we arrived back, I was surprised by a small LED Christmas tree together with decorations that Grant and his dad had bought just for me! I spent a good portion of the afternoon decorating it and presents were then brought out of the woodwork and put beneath it. Saturday has become Grant’s favourite day for a braai (we have had one every week since we arrived at the new house and even had two on the weekend that we arrived thanks to a power outage) and this one was no exception. Mike and Vicky came over and an abundance of meat ensued – chicken sosaties, kudu steaks and wors – with the potato and table salads becoming the fillers. But Saturday was nothing compared to what was to come on Sunday!

With Grant’s family down for the weekend, we decided to take the opportunity to have our own Christmas celebrations by having a Christmas lunch. Or what was supposed to be a Christmas lunch and ended up being a Christmas linner (lupper? lunner? sunch? dinch?) The day started nice and early with everyone waking up at 8 and starting on the dishes from the braai so that we could have something to cook with. With dishes ready, Grant started preparing the turkey. And my God was it a big one. So big that we weren’t sure that it was going to fit into our teeny tiny oven. Which it thankfully did. The gammon that we bought was also pre-cooked, which meant that we didn’t have to worry about that having to go into the oven. What we did have to worry about were the potatoes, stuffing and veg, all of which did require oven and stove-top cooking in an oven that could barely fit the turkey on its own and a stove that could only have two plates on while the oven was going. Not fun. Preparations were also halted when Grant sent his dad out to get toothpicks that were essential for the turkey cooking and his dad ended up getting distracted and chatting in the street for an hour while we waited for the toothpicks to arrive. 

Nonetheless, dinner was ready by 4 and it was certainly a great one! Our linner of turkey, gammon, stuffing, roast potatoes, carrots and cauliflower was followed by pressie opening which in turn was followed, a good while later, by dessert of mince pies, Christmas pudding and fruit cake with custard and ice cream. Of course, the ice cream was all that anyone wanted to eat since Sunday ended up being an absolute scorcher of a day, and by the time it was all over I was ready to collapse into a food coma. It is now almost 24 hours later and I am still full!

And so, our Christmas celebrations have come to an end. Grant and I are still looking forward to celebrating actual Christmas together, but the big gespiel has been completed and we are looking forward to a relaxing Christmas day rather than a rushed frenzy of food.

Here’s hoping that everyone else’s Christmas is as merry as our early one and looking forward to speaking to and seeing you all in the new year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Movie Review: Easy A

So while I have much to do (packing, working, etc) and much to write (6k, come on!) I thought I would quickly write up one of those reviews that I promised. There are so many things that I want to review lately, since I have been reading awesome books, listening to awesome music and watching awesome movies and series, I figured that I should start with one that I watched awhile ago and work my way forward. So I figure that I will start with the movie that we watched at the last Ladies Night.

It was a difficult to choose a movie that none of us had seen, but there was one movie that ended up being agreed upon. Even though a couple of the people had watched it before, they said that it was well worth re-watching. And that movie was Easy A.

Now, you may think that Easy A is your typical Rom Com, and you wouldn't be completely wrong. It definitely is a comedy and there is a romantic aspect to it, but the romantic aspect is kind of drowned out by the comedy aspect, and to me it seemed like more of a Com than a Rom. The movie is set at a high school (typical) and follows a high school girl who is not particularly popular (typical) but becomes the talk of the school when she tells a friend that she slept with a college guy. Only, she was lying. And suddenly she finds herself getting a lot of attention from the boys and girls of the school, some good and some bad. The school is rather religious and Olive (Emma Stone) finds herself getting judged by the popular kids, all of whom are perfect Christian teens, led by Marianne (Amanda Bynes). Of course, she is not the only one being judged, and her gay best friend, Brandon (Dan Byrd), begs her to spread the rumour that she slept with him to avoid the mocking and judgement that he has been received for his sexual orientation. Quickly she becomes the go-to person for help in the sex department, even though she is still a virgin, and a chaotic but hilarious story ensues.

So, what makes this movie so great? Well, a good cast for one. Olive is spunky, intelligent and a good role model for young girls considering that she stands her own even when false rumours are being spread about her. It is all in the name of helping people out, and she does take it slightly overboard, but she is a good person overall and Emma Stone worked the role well. Her family are also really well cast with Stanley Tucci as the dad and Patricia Clarkson as the mom that every teenager wish they had. But the storyline is also just awesome in the way that it progresses into chaos, and the morals that make up the story are great ones - don't lie, don't be self-righteous and all actions (even made up ones) have consequences.

Overall, I think this is an awesome, hilarious movie that I would want my kid to see one day, and one that I think both men and women would enjoy. There is no explicit sex (though hints of sex are obviously mentioned throughout the movie) and no moments that will make you want to look away from the screen, unless you are the kind who gets embarrassed for the characters and cannot bear to watch them doing things that you know are just going to lead to trouble (hey, I used to be that person, okay!)

Watch Easy A. Male, female, young, old. Just watch it, okay?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

African



Yesterday I was having a chat with a friend who has been job hunting recently. As you all know, I went through the process earlier this year and it is one of the most tiring, degrading, self-esteem- and soul-destroying processes that a person can go through. This is particularly the case in South Africa thanks to employment equity.

You see, when you apply for a job, whether it is advertised as an employment equity position or not, you will be asked whether you fit any of the following criteria:






Now I have more than a slight issue with these criteria. If they are going to be asking what race you are, surely they should have all races available rather than singling out four of them? Would it not be better to have a simple box where you can write in whether you are male or female rather than including it in a table? But the issue that specifically bugs me (and bugged my friend) is the “African” option.

Now, I may be Caucasian, but I was born in Africa, have been raised in Africa and have lived in Africa for 22 out of the 23 years of my life. My parents are African, both of them born in Zimbabwe, so I am, without a doubt in my mind, African. Not in the way that they are referring to, of course, but when it comes to a form like this, what is wrong with my indicating that I am both female and African? There is no option of Caucasian, and if there had been, perhaps I would have selected that I was a Caucasian African, but why should my race stop me from being a part of the country, a part of the continent that I was born and raised in? I am African, South African specifically, and it has always been something that I’m proud of.  And yet, when it comes to forms like this, being African is an exclusive criterion. And yes, I know that African refers to a race rather than a nationality, but should it? Why is it that only people with darker skin than Caucasian, Coloured, Chinese and Indian people can be referred to as African? I have the same issue with the term African-American, where people who may not have set foot in Africa in their life are described as being African merely due to the colour of their skin. Of course, I realise that there are people who are proud of their heritage and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. By all means, feel connected to Africa as the place of your origin if that’s what you want to feel. But, at the same time, not every dark-skinned person in America feels that way, I’m sure. And, at the same time, what gives them more right to take on the title of African than I have?

Really, what my issue boils down to is this: the classifications of race. If you look up the definition of Caucasian, you will find a number of definitions ranging from Of or relating to one of the traditional divisions of humankind, covering a broad group of peoples from Europe, western Asia, and parts of India and North Africa” to “Of or relating to a group of languages spoken in the region of the Caucasus, of which thirty-eight are known, many not committed to writing. The most widely spoken is Georgian, of the small South Caucasian family, not related to the three North Caucasian families.” Why is it that I should be referred to as Caucasian when I feel that none of these definitions fits me. Yes, my ancestors were Irish and British, but I do not associate myself as being Irish (well, I have an Irish passport, but it is not what I refer to myself as when asked) or British. I am South African. I am African, though my skin colour does not match the criterion. Why should a person be referred to as African if they have never set foot or associated themself with Africa? Why should a person be Indian or Chinese if they have not been to India or China and have no interest in going there? I understand that heritage is important, but is it important enough to allow for exclusion on the basis of no more than race? 

What if I had been born in India, fair skin and all. Could I not then have said that I was Indian? Could I have come to South Africa, applied for a job and ticked the box that indicates that I am Indian, or would I have received a phone call asking for clarification and, 15 minutes later, received a rejection letter on the grounds that I do not fit the criteria?

I am sorry if anyone is offended by this post. It really was not my intention to offend. It was just my time to vent and rant. It is over.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November Life


So as many of you may have noticed, I have been quite quiet recently. This is because, as I suspected would happen, I have been crazy busy! But, there are a couple of aspects to this busyness that I had not expected.

So Lara, what have you been doing?
There have been three things taking up most of my time over the last month. The most obvious one is work, and the less obvious are writing and photography. I have stuck to my NaNoWriMo plans, and am 33240 words into my novel. I still have 8 days left to write, and I think that I can make it if I buck up and start writing a little more than 2000 words each day. Which is totally possible, considering that I got to 25k by the 10th of the month and have just been slacking since then.

In terms of photography, I have been participating in a mentorship programme as the mentee. My mentor is a Photography professor in the States, and I have been chatting with him over Skype 3 days of the week. I am given assignments to do and am learning how to use PhotoShop, and the experience has been great (Sausi, my tutor, is AWESOME), but it is also extremely tiring and leaves little time for other things, like writing.

Oh, and I have been packing. Not as much as I should be since I have had other things taking up my time on the weekends that I plan to pack (things like photo shoots or trips to PE or no packing tape being in the house). But there are a good number of boxes taking up the area under the stairs and we intend to move a lot of them to the new house this weekend. The move really is around the corner and it is uber-exciting, especially since I GET A PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO IN MY GARAGE! Plus, two giant gardens, plus a house-warming party where people bring gifts and things. Can you tell how excited I am? I don’t think you can. SQUEE!!!!!!!!!!

What have you been reading?
Oh yeah, I haven’t given up on reading completely. Though most of my books have, at this point, been packed into boxes, I left one out for my reading pleasure, and that one is the book that I recently received from Loot – “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” by Jose Saramago. I first heard of the book when I was doing my post-grad diploma and have been intrigued and wanting to read it since then. Unfortunately, it is not the most popular of Saramago’s work and has proved difficult to come across. But I found it on Loot and ordered it a couple of weeks ago. It arrived last week and I have been reading it (slowly but surely) since. It is definitely interesting, but not the easiest read. I will let you know what I think of it when I’ve finished, which will not be this month considering everything else that is going on.

What have you been watching?
Not very much – one movie and a couple of series when I am going to bed at night. The movie that I watched was Easy A, which I LOVED and will be writing a review of later this week (probably). The series that I have been watching are Dollhouse (I didn’t get into it when it started, but am loving it now) Misfits (during my lunch breaks at work – another review around the corner) and Castle (uber-awesome!)

What about that uber-awesome cat of yours with the incredibly lame name?
Oy! No being mean to Puddims L He’ll totally kick your ass! He is a superhero after all! He has been saving me from 8-legged monsters left, right and centre, occasionally jumping on my head at 4am to do so and attempting to do the same to Grant (though I stopped him). He is also LOVING the boxes that are around the house and thinks that they are there just for him. I think he is not going to be such a happy kitty in 9 days time, however, when he finds himself in unfamiliar surroundings. But there will be boxes (and spiders I’m sure) to keep him company, so he will survive.

And so my life over the last few weeks has pretty much been explained. What’s going on in your lives?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Review: The Book Thief

I have grown up with stories about the Holocaust, so much so that I cannot remember a time when I did not know about it. I started going to Hebrew lessons when I was five (and usually went with my sister before then anyway) and the first book that I remember wanting to read was Anne Frank's Diary. It is possible and quite likely that Anne Frank was the reason for my wanting to become a journalist in the first place, though I cannot guarantee that. In any case, Anne was the beginning of my Holocaust reading, but she certainly was not the last.

When it came to middle and high school, books about the Holocaust were spread amongst our syllabus, and we were encouraged to read books about the Holocaust outside of the syllabus as well. The school library was filled with them. The most memorable of the books that I read was Night by Ellie Wiesel, and it was hauntingly beautiful, but absolutely nightmarish. Which makes complete sense. The Holocaust was absolutely nightmarish. Worse. It was no nightmare. However, I came across a book recently (advised by my friend Kath) that I thought would have proved a better tool for learning about the Holocaust in high school. It is a marvelous book called 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak.

There are a couple of things that make The Book Thief great as both a novel and a tool for teaching. The protagonist in the story is a young girl, only nine when the story starts and fourteen when it ends, someone that teenagers, and particularly teenagers between those ages, can relate to. But even as a twenty-three year old, I can relate to Liesel. She is every little girl. Another great aspect about the protagonist - she is a reader. Even before she learns to read, she knows the value of books, and values the ability to read, possibly because it was such a great challenge for her to wrap her head around. Liesel is an entirely relatable character on a number of levels, all of which make the book easy to read for young and old readers alike.

One of the main reasons that I think this is a great tool for learning, however, is that it shows the Holocaust from a number of perspectives. It shows it from the everyday life of a young German girl, from the viewpoint of a Jew in hiding, from the viewpoint of a proud German man, from the viewpoint of his patriotic son, from the viewpoint of a crippled boy and from the viewpoint of a perfectly normal boy next door who is just trying to fit in. It provides a wide scope from which to view the Holocaust and see how it affected the life of everyone in Germany, from the rich to the poor, from the young to the old.


And the thing that makes this book a great read for anyone, learning or not, is the manner in which it is written. First of all, the narrator is not your typical narrator. The narrator is death, but not as the hateful bastardly reaper that steals you away. Death is not a nightmare in this novel, but a dream. He is thoughtful, he is the saviour and he even has a slight sense of humour at times. Death is the hero of the novel in many ways. But it's not just the narrator, its also the tone. The novel is not depressing. It is beautiful! It will make you smile and cry at the same time, knowing as you do what the outcome of the story is likely to be. And yet, you cannot help but smile. I smile everytime I think of Liesel and her collection of books and cry every time I think of Rudi covering himself in black coal and pretending to be Jessie Owens.

This is a book that I think every teenager should read. I think it is the perfect introduction to the Holocaust. That is not to say that books like Night should be ignored in the syllabus. Not at all - they hold valuable lessons that people of every age need to face. But I certainly think that they should be taught alongside books like The Book Thief, which show the beauty of life mixed in with the horror of death, the good together with the bad, both sides of the coin for the people of Germany - the Jews, the Christians, the Atheists, the young and the old. As much as the lessons in Night are valuable for people of all ages, I think that the same came be said of The Book Thief.

Monday, October 31, 2011

November

So today is Halloween, but this is not a Halloween post. Why? Well, mostly because it is Halloween and I am sitting at home in bed with a black cat at my feet rather than being out partying in Chungdae with Amy and Jess and the Korean people who are likely at Buzz right now. But also, it being the last day of October means that tomorrow is the first day of November. And November is going to be insane. Why you might ask? Let me give you a quick rundown of the things that I have to do in November.

1. Face tomorrow - billing run. The first of the month is always hellish with people discovering that, yes, they are still being charged for the services that they neglected to cancel. It's not that I think this month's billing run is going to be particularly bad or anything, I just suspect that its going to be a billing run, making my day tomorrow, well, hellish.

2. Team Building - this Friday is my company's first team building, or at least the first one that I will be taking part in. It is mandatory, it involves colourful t-shirts and, from the questions that we were asked to fill in last week, it is likely to be embarassing. It could, of course, be fun. This is not a possibility that I am ruling out. And, on the plus side, it will be followed by a braai and much booze provided by the company. Still, not seeming like a start to a productive weekend.

3. Photo shoot - hey! I didn't say that the month was filled with things that I wasn't looking forward to. Just that there is much to be done. My photo shoot with Debbie is one of the things that I really am looking forward to. I want to take my camera out for a field-trip. It's been feeling a little lonely in its camera bag recently.

4. Website - I am really hoping that this will be the month. I am going to be giving my designer a deadline in the hopes that he will stick to it. Of course, this means a lot of work on my part too, getting photos up, working out prices and writing up content.

5. Speaking of writing... NaNoWriMo - Yes. I am. Totally. 50 000 words, here I come. This will be the year!

6. Packing - Oh, right, that's right. This is the last month in our old house before we move to the shiny new one. But, this does involve packing up all of the stuff here first, hiring a trailer and lugging it to the new house. Oh, and hiring a trailer also involves finding a car with a toe-hitch to attach the trailer to. Fun times if I may say so myself!

7. Cleaning - Moving out of the old house means that there is going to be a lot of tidying to do. It's not that this house is a dump but, well, a lot of furniture hasn't been moved in the two years that Grant has lived in the house and I suspect that when we do move it, cobwebs are going to be flying, and I am going to be avoiding them like the plague because you know that with cobwebs come those dreaded eight legged creatures that I hate so much.

8. Moving - the adventure of moving into the new house will hopefully be starting in the last week of this month. Which means that packing has to start before then. It will also mean that when the day comes to move (01 December, which also happens to be a Thursday) we won't be lugging too much of our stuff and can perhaps even manage just taking half a day off work instead of a full day (something that I still need to book... bugger).

Birthday celebrations - Finally, and possibly most importantly, this month is Grant's birthday. Which involves a lot of planning on my part, simply because he always makes my birthdays incredibly awesome and I tend to suck at getting gifts that he might appreciate. This year, I am hoping, will be different. I have gone through every effort to find a gift that he will enjoy and appreciate, and then topped it off with two more gifts (and a third implied gift). It is a long story, which I will need to explain after the 11th, but basically, Grant's birthday celebrations will be taking up space in my mind for the first half of the month.

And this is why, November is looking like a fun-filled and particularly busy month. My God... I have exhausted myself just thinking about it. Off to bed I go now for an episode of Dollhouse!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Drug Addict!



Hello, my name is Lara and I take drugs. Not just any drugs, of course. I take Eltroxin for my thyroid problem. For my hypothyroidism to be precise.

People often don’t know what this means, and I don’t blame them. Hell, if I hadn’t grown up watching my mother and grandmother popping pills for this very problem, I wouldn’t have known myself! But thankfully, I did grow up knowing what hypothyroidism is, which meant that I realised that I had it pretty early.

So, what are the symptoms? First of all, there is the exhaustion. And when I say exhaustion, I do not just mean tiredness. I mean waking up tired, spending your day tired, coming home tired and collapsing on the bed not wanting to move because you are so tired. The tiredness seeps down to your bones and makes your body ache all of the time. Waking up tired is usually a sign that something is wrong, whether it is a thyroid problem or something else, and if it is the case that you are getting the right amount of sleep (not under- or over-sleeping) and are still waking up tired, you should look into getting some tests done.
So the tiredness is one of the most obvious symptoms, but there are more. You may experience mood swings. I know that I did. So much so that I thought that I might have been bi-polar. I would be laughing one minute and crying the next without knowing how I got there. I was constantly on edge and looking for something to upset me or looking to get into fights without realising it. It was as though my body didn’t want me to be happy.

And talking about my body, another of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain. Your metabolism does not function properly, which means that your food is not digested the way that it should be and this can and often does lead to weight gain. If you have hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, you will experience many of the same symptoms, only instead of gaining weight you will lose weight at a ridiculous rate. More specifically, it will be almost impossible for you to put on weight because your metabolism is in overdrive. While this may sound like a wonderful thing (I know it does to me – eat anything I like and never put on weight) it also leaves you vulnerable to heart-attacks and has other symptoms that are not so fun.

The trouble with these symptoms is that they can also point to a number of other conditions, including a B12 deficiency, iron deficiency or diabetes. However, if you are experiencing the systems, you should really go and get yourself tested. It amazes me how many people I talk to about this who go, “Oh… but I have been experiencing that and thought that it would just go away.” It won’t. Whether it is your thyroid, your vitamin levels, your sugar levels or your blood, it is something that you should have looked at.

So, how do you find out if you have hypothyroidism? Go to your GP and request a blood test. It is likely that if you discuss the symptoms with your doctor, he/she will recommend doing a number of other tests at the same time to rule out other conditions. In my case, knowing the symptoms and knowing that thyroid conditions are hereditary (if your mother/grandmother has it, it is highly likely that you do too or will develop it) I was fairly sure that was it. However, I also found out that I had a B12 deficiency which was also affecting my body and making me even more tired than usual.

If you do have hypothyroidism, I am afraid that you will be on pills for the rest of your life. If you have hyperthyroidism, there are treatments available and diets that supposedly help you maintain a healthy lifestyle without pills, but there are no such treatments or diets for the hypo alternative. Your dosage will differ according to how bad the condition is. This means that your levels will need to be tested via a blood test every 3-6 months. I started on the lowest dose of eltroxin and, over the last couple of months, have had to increase the dosage. The pills are small and easy to take without liquid and thankfully don’t taste too bad, but it is essential that you take them every morning to ensure that your levels stay the same. There are also specific types of food that you should avoid if you take eltroxin because they tamper with levels and prevent the medication from being effective. One of those foods is soy, and you should avoid soy products as much as you can. Many people say that wheat also affects the intake, and I think that this is true, though I have had trouble staying away from wheat, which possibly affected my levels and is part of the reason for my increased dosage. But I can’t guarantee this.

I hope that readers take this to heart and if they have experienced or are experiencing any of the symptoms that they will go to their doctor and get tested. Hypothyroidism may not be a fatal condition, but it is one that can easily be rectified and, once the medication becomes effective, can better your quality of life.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fiction vs. Reality

Sometimes I pick up a book and wonder why that can't be my life. Sometimes I watch a movie and find myself wishing that I was that girl. Other times I thank my lucky stars that my life is as good as it is, but it doesn't take away from the fact that sometimes fiction is just better than reality.

I have brought out the notes again and have been considering trying at writing my Korean story down once more, not for the first time and probably not for the last. This time around it has been inspired by a friend of mine publishing a book. This friend is not a close one, and is not someone who I would have thought of as an author. She has never shown an interest (as far as I know) in writing a novel, and the fact that she got there before me makes me, well, helluva jealous. But then, she clearly wasn't like me in terms of the procrastinating and struggling to get her story out.

Anyway, now that I am considering writing again, I have been considering a new angle to approach the story from, and that is one of fiction. It would certainly fix a lot of the dilemmas that I have been considering about writing my own story in that it wouldn't affect the privacy of the people that I met and came to be friends with overseas. It would be fiction, and though I might draw from experiences or stories that I had and heard while I was in Korea, it would for the most part just be made up of the things that I wanted to do while I was there. My imagination could run wild and I could have a lot more fun with the writing of it.

Of course, so far it has been difficult. Even drawing from personal experiences and fictionalising them has been difficult. Take for example a part of the first chapter where the heroine of the book is having a fight with her boyfriend at the time because she is leaving. The fight itself never happened in my life, though it is based on a number of conversations that were had with my boyfriend and I before I left as well as the worries that I never voiced, but had in my mind before leaving. After writing that particular section, my emotions were all over the place and when Grant came home from work, I was close to tears because I felt like we'd had a real fight.

I am hoping that it is going to pan out this time. I am hoping that this isn't just going to be another of those fruitless attempts that end up going nowhere and just sitting on my harddrive for years. I have so many of those that I keep looking at and considering picking up again, but I think that my Korean story needs to be told before any other. It is a personal one, and if there is one that I am going to finish, this should be it. If I can't finish this, I have no business writing fiction. At least to my mind.

Anyway, that is all for today. I have wasted far too many words writing up a silly blog about writing. Words that could have been written into my new novel. Alas. Back to the grindstone I go! Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book with a Suggestive Title

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It sounds like it's supposed to be elusive, mysterious and exotic. The object of having such a title of a book is obviously to perk interest and arouse intrigue.

Except that a girl with a dragon tattoo is hardly intriguing. Isn't a dragon one of the most common tattoos along with hearts, roses and Chinese symbols? There are certainly hundreds of girls out there with dragon tattoos. Wait, hundreds is probably UNDERestimating. Thousands at least. So what makes this girl special and what makes this book special?

Well, not very much to be perfectly honest. At least, not in the case of the book. I will admit that the character of Lisbeth Salander is interesting and, I suppose, special. She is not your typical detective. The main surprise regarding her character, however I didn't find at all surprising. Unfortunately, you would have to read the book to find out what that is. Which I wouldn't stop you from doing.

I am not saying that the book is terrible. What I am trying to say is that it is not the amazing piece of literature that people make it out to be. It is a mystery novel, and for a mystery novel I found it quite difficult to get through. The first half of the book drags quite a lot. It is a description of the lives of Lisbeth Salander, a freelancer working for a security company who tends to dig into peoples lives and is particularly good at it, and Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has just been found guilty of libel and is about to spend some time in jail. Salander is hired by a lawyer to run a background check on Blomkvist, as the lawyer's client is interested in hiring him for a special job.

The job is where the story starts to get interesting, and is only really mentioned (aside from the prologue) about a quarter of the way through the novel. And it still takes another quarter for the job to get interesting. Sure, there is a suspicion of murder which draws the reader's attention, but then another quarter of the book is spent detailing a past of the family involved, a past that, while it has interesting moments, is not all that interesting overall, I found.

And then, halfway through, the drama really starts with discoveries of information, heart attacks and Blomkvist finding out about and meeting Salander. From halfway through the book, I struggled to put it down. I really started enjoying the novel and finding it interesting, and it is because of the second half that I am not completely against the reading of it. I would just recommend being prepared to trudge through the dregs to get to the good part.

So overall, the book is only half good. Whether that is good enough to justify the great press would be up to you to decide. I don't think so. Tons of people do. If you've read the book, let me know what you think!

Ignorance was bliss

A friend of mine wrote the following blog post and asked me to publish it in my blog. Since I tend to agree wholeheartedly with her assessment of the situation, I didn't hesitate to say ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY! And so, without further ado...


Ignorance was bliss

You know what I’d like? For the world to be fair. This morning I arrived in town for work and decided to go for breakfast at a lovely little café near to my office. This was idyllic, until I made the mistake of picking up a newspaper.
This newspaper informed me that, at this very minute, South Africa’s esteemed president,  Mr Jacob Zuma, is having his houses and offices revamped to include, amongst other things,  a steam room, a dressing room, wooden window frames and doors, and  a larger swimming pool. The reported amount that will be spent for this varies, but it hovers around R190 million. I kid you not.
YOU are less important than me.
This for the man who, more than anyone, has a responsibility to be aware of the situation in which the majority of his constituency find themselves; jobless, homeless and with no prospect of any help from the government. It was pointed out in the article that the money spent on the revamping of two already far-from-modest houses could have been spent on thousands of RDP houses for the millions of South Africans living in deplorable conditions in shacks, wendy-houses, or on the street. People who have had their names down on lists for these aforementioned houses since the dawn of democracy (ha ha) in 1994, but who have been told that there has been no money nor manpower to build the houses. And yet, for our dear president and his who-knows-how-many wives and mistresses (yes it’s a cheap shot, but bear with me) it seems that the money, builders and chandelier-fitters are in abundant supply. And let’s not pretend it will take fifteen years for this job to be done.
On the next page, we have ANC Youth League President Julius Malema, the county clown, spewing yet another racist insult, this time at Indians. Heck, at least the boers get a break. Oh, wait, what? No, it appears he found time in amongst the speech-making to sing a little song about killing white folk. Phew.
But poor people are just so BORING.
This isn’t the first, nor the last time that Juju has poured forth about how much he hates…well, everyone who doesn’t look like him, really. Remind you of something beginning with N and ending in P? Julius’s job seems to be to go out into areas of greatest need in South Africa, tell the people what they’re missing, rile them into a frenzy of anger (it’s understandable; they live, undeservedly, in squalor), tell them what they deserve, equip them with a sense of entitlement and rage…and then leave. After all that mud slinging, a vindicated Malema heads off back to his none-too-shabby abode and eats something expensive, while the frustrated people sit outside their shacks, still poor, still hungry, still jobless, and even more frustrated. Malema has told them what they already knew, but repeatedly fails to address any of the problems, even when he seemingly has the influence, power and finances (how many designer suits?) to make a change.
Shame. He doesn't know who he is.
My wish for these two, and indeed anyone who abuses their powerful situation, is for them to be regressed. Remember when you were a child (think back, aged ones) and you got a bit uppity, or tried to bully the smaller children? What happened? Someone bigger than you, presumably your parent, teacher, or the weedy kid’s scary older brother, gave you a klap. Or detention, or the cane, or a stern talking to, depending on how lax corporal punishment laws were when you were young. Either way, you emerged feeling rather sheepish, rather sore, and rather disinclined to do it again.
But when one is at the top of the proverbial food chain, no effective structures exist for discipline. Who is there to klap the greedy head of state, the potty-mouthed Youth League leader, the insane dictator (yes, Mugabe, I’m talking about you) or even the abusive Man of the House? Perhaps by the time they have reached that lofty perch, it is too late for them to be brought down. Perhaps in this case, prevention is better than cure. So if you happen upon a child shouting down his smaller friends in the sandpit, remember; your hand might just save the nation. Just try and explain that to his mother…

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unspoken Rules for Women in South Africa

I read an article this morning entitled "Unspoken Rules for Women in the United States". I was pointed in the direction of the article by two friends, one of whom wondered out loud what a South African version would look like. I started wondering the same thing, and decided to try and write one up.

"Welcome to the South Africa, little girl! We are so glad you have arrived. Here is a list of rules to live by, just to get you started:
  1. Your race is going to dictate where you end up in life. People will try to tell you that Apartheid is over, but the ramifications that come from years of suppression are still very real. Your race will determine which Universities you are able to attend and which jobs you are able to get. If you are black, coloured, Indian or oherwise non-White, your race will make you 'previously disadvantaged', and you will be given preference for any positions available.
  2. Technically you may wear what you choose, as long as what you choose is what society chooses for you. Short skirts are both encouraged and out of the question. Wearing one will certainly put you into the "sexy" category, which is strongly encouraged by society, but at the same time will advertise that you are open for business so to speak and by wearing one, you will be asking to be raped.
  3. Your weight is not your personal business - it is public domain. You can expect to be judged for being too big, too small and too average. In fact, you can expect to be judged for pretty much everything that you do. It is the tendency of society to judge.
  4. Your sexual preference is not your personal business either. Though you have a right to your sexual preference, the public will assume that they have the right to try to change you. This process can take on a number of forms, from social pressure to rape, all of which may be seen as either acceptable or deplorable according to the society that you are a part of. Either way, these reactions are often unlikely to lead to any action being taken in your defence.
  5. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are not raped. It is your responsibility to dress appropriately, speak appropriately, have the appropriate sexual preference and live the appropriate lifestyle of a woman. Should you choose not to follow these appropriate guidelines and end up being raped, it will be your fault for wearing a short skirt, flirting, being a lesbian or going out in public while wearing, saying or being any of the above. Should you contract a STD from such an encounter or fall pregnant due to such an encounter, this is also your responsibility.
  6. Should you decide to take advantage of the education that you are offered and the workplace opportunities that are open to you, you will still be expected to maintain a healthy sex life, have children, cook, clean and do your womanly duties. Having a job is no excuse for neglecting the job that you were given at birth.
  7. The fact that you are female also determines that you are 'disadvantaged' and jobs in companies will be set aside just for women. Congratulations! You will be allowed to work in a company where you will be treated as disadvantaged and, despite working just as hard as or harder than your male equivalents, you will always earn less money and garner less respect than they do.
We hope that this helps! Good luck out there!"

And yes, this did come out a little more cynical than I had intended, but for the most part, it is rather accurate. What would you add or remove?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe Review: Frozen Strawberry Margaritas

A whirring sound fills my kitchen, drowning out the voices in the lounge and every other sound in the house. I wince as I see liquid seeping from the ancient blender and hear the ice rattling around unscathed by the blades. It's quite possible that I filled it too high, but it's equally possible that this machine just can't handle ice cubes and frozen strawberries like it used to. It was my grandmother's after all, and I am fairly sure that it is older than I am. Before I know it, my kitchen is a pink, sticky, alcoholic mess. But that's okay! We weren't planning on spending too much time in there anyway!

The idea for the cocktail evening came about a few months ago when I went out with Kath, Rosa and Emma for some cocktails at the Yellow House (which has an awesome selection of truly amazing cocktails) and found that we would need to pitch in about R100 each for two cocktails. Totally not worth it! It would be far better, we decided, if we were to pitch in about R50 each, go out and buy ingredients and then make our own cocktails. It took a few months to find a night that suited people, but it finally happened and it was most fun and awesome, although we didn't end up having as many cocktails as we would have liked as it was the middle of the month and we were all broke.

No matter, I decided that I was going to spend the last of my cash on the ingredients for frozen strawberry margaritas. Why this cocktail specifically? Well, I'd bought frozen strawberries quite awhile ago in an attempt to be healthy and make supremely awesome smoothies for breakfast on a daily basis. Sadly, this never happened, and I got left with a bag of frozen strawberries living in my freezer, taking up space and annoying my housemates. So I decided to finally do something with them. I looked up how to make frozen strawberry margaritas and found the following recipe:

1.5oz Silver tequila
1 oz Orange liqueur (or Triple Sec)
1 oz Lime Juice or Concentrate
1 cup Frozen or fresh strawberries
1 cup Ice cubes

I went out and bought the tequila (though we ended up buying white rather than silver since I don't know the difference and I don't really think that it matters considering that we were mixing it with other alcohol rather than having it straight), Triple Sec and lime concentrate as well as some Rosé wine just in case, which came to a total of R225. You may be looking at that and thinking: "Good God! So expensive!" But then you should also consider that I ended up making 7 cocktails, and having a ton of alcohol left over. The only reason we didn't make more is that the strawberries ran out. Boo!

So, how did they turn out? Aside from them having pretty large bits of ice (occasionally whole ice cubes) or frozen strawberry (which I completely blame on the ancient blender described at the start of this post), I thought they were pretty damn good! Strong, but good. Messy, but good. Overall, a success! I would recommend finding a good blender to make them with, however, and I know that I will be doing just that next time around.

The rest of the night was spent watching Bridesmaids (again) at Kath and Emma's request, drinking frozen strawberry margaritas, snacking on rice crackers, cucumber, celery and dip and playing board games. The boys arrived back from Oktoberfest celebrations around midnight to find us playing 30 Seconds, and then insisted that their team of 3 could kick our team of 4's ass. Which we quickly disproved. Mike then insisted on trying to kick our asses 2-to-4, refusing to let any girl join his team to make things a little more even. Needless to say, he was put to shame. He then finally relented, letting Kath become and honorary boy and a final game ensued, which Vicky, Emma and I won in any case. Because we rock. So does Kath, but that's not the point.

The girls (and boy) finally decided to call it a night around 1am and we all decided that this was an event that was going to have to become monthly. Which is just fine by me, especially since I have half a bottle of Tequila and half a bottle of Triple Sec that I don't intend to get through any time soon! So watch this space for more information on another girly evening coming soon!