Also by me...


Friday, November 25, 2011

The not-so-traditional anniversary gift

No matter who you are as a couple, it can always be quite a challenging task coming up with exciting and fun anniversary ideas. For the couple who is looking for the not so traditional anniversary gift ideas, Celestial Gift Experiences will have the perfect gift ideas on offer.

If your other half has a passion for motorcycles then the Harley Davidson pillion is the perfect anniversary gift for them. It “includes a one hour Harley Davidson Pillion. The Harley Chauffeur can collect from your address of choice and either provides a one way or two way transfer – totaling 60 minutes”. Maybe get the chauffeur to drop your partner off at a restaurant where you will be waiting…sounds like a very romantic anniversary gift idea to me.

Maybe you are looking for anniversary gifts for a couple that loves to fly. Some of the flying experiences available at Celestial Gift experiences include a Cape Town helicopter flight, hot air balloon flights, tandem paraglide flights as well as a tandem skydive. Also available is the WACO biplane flight for two and a Johannesburg sunset flight.
For something a little different you could also choose a beachcraft bonanza flight for three. “Your flight route can be discussed with your pilot to make this flight best suited and most memorable – take in the best of what the Jozie skyline has to offer. With three seats available for passengers this makes for a great experience for friends and family.” This is wonderful anniversary gift as it can include more people – sharing your anniversary gifts with others can only make it that much more memorable.

If you are looking for anniversary gifts for the couple that likes a good party then maybe the following gifts experiences are just what you are looking for. There is a Ghost Bus and pub crawl available as well as Party Hummer, which “operates within Johannesburg and Pretoria. Your recipient will be collected along with a maximum of 3 others and taken either for a drive or to your favourite restaurant, nightclub or bar”. This experience is bound result in lots of celebrating and will no doubt be night never to be forgotten.

Does your partner love to dance? If so, why not get them a dance experience that they will remember forever. Celestial Gift experiences offers 4 saucy salsa dance lessons as well as ballroom dancing for two, which “includes 16 hours of ballroom and Latin American dancing for one person or two. It is made up of a private 30 minute assessment followed by 4 individual lessons of 30 minutes each, 8 socials and 6 parties”.

Whatever anniversary ideas you come up with, whether you are looking for traditionally romantic anniversary gifts or the slightly more unique gifts, will most certainly be able to cater for your interests or the interests of the couple. 

Birthday Gift Ideas

A 60th birthday gift doesn’t always need to include a pair of warm wooly socks or a book about boats or flower arranging. Celestial Gift Experiences offers a wide range of alternatives to these “normal” birthday gifts. Why not opt for a driving experience or a relaxing day at the spa? Whether your friend or close family member is celebrating their 40th birthday or their 80th birthday, you will find the perfect gift for them at

There are so many interesting experiences out there, such as an opportunity to do a live radio broadcast for any event – this “includes fantastic Radio Presenters who will keep your guests rocking with awesome tunes as well as electric engagement with the audience to maintain the vibe of fun, excitement and promotion of your event”.  If this isn’t unique enough (but you don’t want to go as far as getting a ‘drive a Ferrari’ experience) then how about a WACO biplane flight for two or an elephant encounter? Both are perfect for any occasion from a 40th birthday to a 60th birthday.

If your Mom enjoys good food (and would never want to drive a Ferrari) then I suggest you take a look at these wonderful experiences – An Italian pasta lesson, high tea for two, a private fine dining experience for two, a Table Bay cruise and lunch for two, a chocolate tasting and lunch for two or a Jazz brunch for two. Another option is star gazing and dinner for two at the Cradle of Mankind where “participants will be given the chance to make use of both telescopes and called to look through the larger telescope usually on a table-by-table basis, before and during the various courses of food ordered in the restaurant”. These are all amazing alternatives to a driving experience.

And then, on the other hand, you might also have friends and family members who are passionate about cars and racing and who would love to drive a Ferrari and enjoy a unique driving experience. For those people you could choose to get a Birkin 2-seater hot lap session, which “includes a 10 minute introduction to the car and its mechanics/history followed by being strapped in and then 20 minutes experiencing this rare beauty at top speeds in the safe hands of a Professional Racing Driver. Once you have finished your session you can then enjoy light refreshments in the VIP hospitality tent”.

For your businessman uncle, who is celebrating his 60th birthday, you could get a tailor made shirt consultation where “each tailor made shirt is cut to your individual specifications using the highest quality fabrics and craftsmanship”. For your sister, who is celebrating her 40th birthday, and who loves to fly, you could give the gift of a Johannesburg sunset flight for two, a Cape Town helicopter flight or a hot air balloon flight, which also includes breakfast for two.

 Lion cub encounters for two, Vaal River fishing cruises, which “includes the private charter of a luxurious cruiser for 3-hours, all gear, equipment and training” and wine estate picnics for two – there is no doubt that Celestial Gift Experiences is the place to go for unique and exciting gifts that create memories that last a life time.  

Celestial Gift Experiences Vouchers

Buying 50th birthday gifts for people you do not know is not easy. Celestial Gift Experiences has an experience voucher or gift vouchers, which are perfect 50th birthday gifts for someone you do not know so well. Not everyone wants to test drive a Ferrari, so gift vouchers allow the person to choose, for themselves, an experience that they will enjoy.

At Celestial Gift Experiences there is a selection of three beautifully presented gift vouchers. Pluto is valued at R500, Saturn is valued at R1000 and Mars is valued at R1500. The experiences you could get with R500 or less include a rock climbing introduction, river rafting, a Segway lion park tour experience, advanced quad biking, chocolate tasting, horseback safari, an introduction to microlight flight, a Sushi lesson and a facial spa treatment, just to mention a few.

For R1000 or less, if you get one of the Saturn gift vouchers, you could get a live radio celebrity experience, a Lotus Exige driving dash, a hot stone massage, a Table Bay cruise and lunch for two, a Cape Town helicopter flight, a tandem paraglide flight, four saucy salsa dance lessons for two, a gyrocopter flight and even a canopy tour.

As you can see, Celestial Gift Experiences has so much more to offer than just the “test drive a Ferrari” experience. If you give someone the Mars gift voucher they will be able to choose from these amazing gift experiences. Here are just a few of the experiences on offer for R1500 or less – an Aston Martin driving dash, dinner in the sky for two, tailor made shirt, tie and cufflinks, an introduction to kite surfing, a Super Decathlon with aerobatics, a gents ultimate escape as well as horse whispering for two.

So, if you don’t want to get the ‘test drive a Ferrari’ experience you can always opt for one of the other amazing experiences instead. For the perfect 50th birthday gift check out and choose from their selection of gift vouchers and experiences. Whether you chose a gift voucher or an experience voucher, you will be making the right choice and even if the gift is for a distant acquaintance they will not only remember the gift but they will, without a doubt, remember you as well.

An experience voucher or any of the gift vouchers are all wonderfully unique 50th birthday gifts for the people closest to you but they are also perfect gifts for your boss’s wife’s sister or your uncle’s helpful elderly neighbour. You can’t go wrong with giving people, no matter how well you know them, an experience of a lifetime and memory that they will cherish forever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weighing up my options.....

I joined Curves a month ago and today was my first weigh in and measurement day. I have been going 5 days a week (for the exception of one week where I went 3 times) and I have been changing my eating habits as best I can. So, as you can imagine, I expected some results. Unfortunately, I have put on…..wait for it…….1.5kg! Obviously it can’t possibly be the Curves gym routine, it has to be my eating habits, which the gym lady, let’s just call her Skinny Malinky, suggested immediately.

So, now my option is to either enjoy food and steadily put on weight (even if I go to the gym 5 times a week) or, as she says, “just drink a big glass of water before each meal and then you won’t eat as much”.

Has it really come to this? That we can’t just eat what we want and eat as much as we want. I hate that I have become this person who feels bad about eating chips or a slice of cake every now and again or eating a meal that contains starch….oh no, heaven forbid I eat bread…..bread is the devil’s food!

I never used to worry about this at all. Food was never an issue for me because I LOVE FOOD! Food has been my dear friend for 27 years and now it has just turned its back on me and is leaving its calories in my ass. My relationship with food has changed without me making the decision to change it and now I feel almost forced to change because I want my body back.

So, I guess there is my answer – I want my body back (the one I had a year ago) so I will just have to say good-bye to my other dear friends bread, pasta and awesome Mr. Potato and hope that we are reunited one day by candle light and a good bottle of wine.

I know that it all comes down to changing my mind-set and soon this will all feel very natural (it bloody well better start quickly) and then I will laugh at the thought that I once got excited about roast potatoes and cheese sauce.

…………….My goodness, I can talk a lot of bull poop…..I think for now I’ll just do the water drinking thing before meals. I take it back my starchy friends….tonight we shall reunite.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pampering Vs Adventure

Adventure experiences might not be for everyone and if you are looking for a gift, whether it is for a 21st birthday or a 50th birthday, you will find it at Celestial Gift Experiences. A gift experience is a great gift option as it is something that will be remembered forever. For a 21st birthday gift you might want to give your sister a full day spa gift experience and if your brother is into adventure sports you can join him in a tandem skydive. Celestial Gift Experiences is the perfect place to look as it has experiences ranging from adventure sports and party Hummers to romantic dining experiences and gift vouchers.

When it comes to buying a gift for someone who prefers the indoors to the outdoors and loves a good pampering, you can’t go wrong with the experiences at Alternatives to adventure sports include Sushi lessons, dinner in the sky, a singles cooking evening, chocolate tasting or a high tea for two. These make great gifts for sisters, mothers, grandparents and actually anybody who has a taste for the finer things in life.

For the men in your life you could opt for a gift experience of another nature. A tailor made suit experience allows you to “create your very own bespoke suit and hand pick each and every minute detail. Each tailor made suit is cut to your individual specifications using the highest quality fabrics and craftsmanship”.  Also available is a tailor made shirt consultation. These would make a wonderful 21st birthday gift as well a great congratulatory gift for your son who just got a new job.

A mini make-over is a lovely gift to give your daughter before her Matric dance and personal shopping experience is a special way to celebrate your cousin’s engagement. Body analysis and illusion dressing “is the art of bringing your figure into proportion visually by the clothes that you wear. During body analysis we take your body measurements and analyse which clothing styles are most flattering for your body type” – this gift experience is a great corporate incentive as well as a perfect gift for your aunt who can’t stop complaining about her weight.

Other alternatives to adventure sports are a Segway Spier wine farm and vineyard tour, a private off-road wine tour, a maternity and new born photo shoot or photo shoot fun, which can be done with your family or friends.

From an African feast and drumming and a farm house party weekend for 12 to a Rose garden breakfast, a Durban harbor dinner cruise and a professional recording studio session – Celestial Gift Experiences has it all. These are all wonderful gifts to give that special person in your life who just wants to sit back and relax (without the thrill) and have a memory to look back on forever. 

Finding the best gift online

Celestial Gift Experiences is one place where you can find the best gift for anyone and any occasion. If you are looking for a wedding anniversary gift, they will have many options available. Congratulatory and good luck gifts are also on offer, which include anything from motorsports to spa treatments and air adventures to wine tasting as well as many more unforgettable gift experiences.

There two types of people you might have to buy gifts for – either you buy gifts for close friends and family or you buy gifts for people you do not know so well. Either way, the gift needs to be the best gift you can get them and Celestial Gift Experiences is the best place to look when it comes to buying anything from a wedding anniversary gift to a good luck gift.

If you find yourself in the position of having to buy your boss a congratulatory 50th wedding anniversary gift you need to look no further that Celestial Gift Experiences. Not only are there a wide variety of gift experiences available but there are also gift vouchers on offer. Gift vouchers are great because it allows the person you are buying it for to choose their own experience. On offer is the Pluto Voucher valued at R500, the Saturn Voucher valued at R1000 and the Mars Voucher valued at R1500.

If gift vouchers are not what you are looking then just check out the amazing gift experiences on offer. For your neighbour’s sister who just got engaged, you can give a moonlight spa experience, a horse back safari, or even a tandem skydive. For you bosses daughter who just turned 21 years old, you can get the wine estate picnic package, a hot stone massage or maybe a cruise for two. Maybe your child’s teacher just announced that she is pregnant; Celestial Gift Experiences the best gift options – you could get her a maternity photo shoot, a chocolate tasting experience or maybe just a Jazz brunch for two.

Buying gifts for people you do not know so well doesn’t have to be so tricky, even when it comes to corporate gifts. Celestial Gift Experiences has a wide range of the best gift ideas for you to choose from. Corporate incentives in the form of a Vaal River Cruise, a Harley Davidson Pillion, a F1 self-drive or a flotation tank treatment are great gift incentives to get any business team working hard.

Gift vouchers, gift experiences and a whole lot more - Celestial Gift Experiences has it all. A wedding anniversary gift, a birthday gift, a good luck gift or a bachelor party gift - Celestial Gift Experiences has a gift for every occasion. Your uncle’s daughter’s boyfriend, your boss’s wife’s sister or your son’s girlfriend’s mother – Celestial Gift Experiences has the perfect gift for everyone.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Anonymous Quote

The other day I came across this quote - "At the age of twenty, we don't care what the world thinks of us; at thirty, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at forty, we discover that it wasn't thinking of us at all."

In my humble opinion I think that this is a big bucket of cow poop. Firstly, I strongly dislike generalisations (unless I am making them) and secondly, well, I just don't like it. This person obviously wanted to remain anonymous because either they knew that they were talking absolute nonsense or they just wanted to create a reaction in someone like me.....well done Mr. Anonymous, you have succeeded!

Here is my amended quote - "At twenty, I knew the world was thinking of me; at thirty, I will still know that the world is thinking of me; at forty, I will definitely know that the world is still thinking of me." I cannot presume to know what YOU think of what the world thinks of you, all I can do is convey what I think and what I think, and what I have known for quite sometime, is that the world, the universe, is always on MY side IF I am on its side too.

By "universe" I mean everything that is in my world (people, plants, animals, myself) therefore, in order for the universe to hear me, I need to hear the needs of the universe too. I cannot expect love and happiness if I live my life treating others (or myself) with indifference and sadness. What I get from the world entirely depends on what the world gets from me.

One of my favourite Paulo Coelho quotes is, "When you want something, the whole Universe conspires to help you realise your desire." There is no better way of saying that and it is because of this quote and because of the life I have lived that I know that world is, and always will be, thinking of me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Take a breath...

We all have something that we are aspiring to, whether it is a job or a romantic connection or losing weight, we all have things in our lives that we want to achieve. So, as a result we are looking forward all the time. We are looking to see how long we still have to go, we are looking forward to all the appointments we are going to, we are looking at what still needs to be done. Very rarely do we realise that last week today was the future and last week we knew we were going to accomplish something by today. So, I urge you to STOP and take a BREATH and look at what you have accomplished already.

9 months ago I was no longer a teacher but I was at the beginning of my journey to becoming a freelance writer. About two months ago I stopped and took a breath and realised that I was writing and earning money and I was, in fact, living my dream.

What an amazing feeling that was and I would not have felt that if I had not stopped for a moment and looked, not into the future, but into my present. I used to day dream a lot about how I imagined my life but now I go to bed and I dream about my reality and when I wake up I live that reality and my dreams are merely little voices in my head that gently call to me every now and again. I don't live in that dream any more, that dream lives in me.

Yes, I still have many things that I want to achieve but I cannot achieve them if I am not being active in my reality. I believe that only three things can make you lose your way - firstly, if you only ever look to the future and the present becomes your dream, secondly, if you only complain about your present and your future is nothing but a dream that helps you sleep at night and lastly, in the words of Paulo Coelho, "Only one thing makes a dream impossible: the fear of failure."

Dreams (aspirations) should just act as goals, they are not to be lived in. Your reality can only be a success if your dreams live in you and you live in the present.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Threat

Threatening is something that my 6 year old daughter knows the definition of. I explained the meaning of a threat after a friend of hers said, "if you don't play my game then you can't come to my house". I told her that she never has to do anything she doesn't want to do and if someone ever threatens her she can simply say, "I do want to be your friend but I will go and find another game to play". It is hard to explain, but my daughter understands such conversations because we talk all the time about everything and I don't shy away from explaining certain things simply because "she is a child and how could she possibly understand" - she has, as a result, grown up to be very perceptive and wise.

In my opinion, any form of a threat is a form of peer pressure. As you get older these threats become more serious - "If you don't have this drink, we will tell everyone your secret" or "if you don't sleep with me then it means you don't really love me". Threats are a way to get people (and children) to do what you want without thinking how it makes them feel and without taking into consideration what they want.

So when I had an opportunity to share this with my daughter I felt so relieved that this teaching moment had come up. She understood immediately and she still tells me when children have threatened her and how she reacted. I really believe that if she can recognise a threat from this early age that she will save herself from a lot of heart ache in the future.

What I feel is even worse than children threatening other children are parents threatening their own children. How on earth can you tell you child "if you don't finish your home-work then you don't get to watch TV" - you know that you are making them feel bad - they may even cry, but you do it anyway. You are the one that is then instilling this preconceived idea in their minds that this how the world works and that you have to listen to threats. But later, the day will come when your child is told "if you don't do drugs with us we will not be your friends". Your child then takes the drugs and you (as their parent) find out and you get angry at them for falling for peer pressure. Honestly, how can this be a surprise?

Many parents use threats and rewards as a means of discipline. If you do something bad or not do something good then they take away something you like and in order to make you do something good they give you an incentive. Yes, many of you may be thinking that there is nothing wrong with this. From the outside it looks hunky dory but long term you are teaching your child that they only ever have do things out of fear of losing something or because they have something to gain...It's not looking so wonderful any more is it?

In every situation where I have had to discipline my daughter I have used it as an opportunity to problem solve. For example, if we need to leave the park and she is kicking and screaming all the way to the car I will wait till we are at home and she has calmed down and then we will begin talking. I will tell her that I understand that she wanted to stay longer at the park but we had to get home to make supper and that I want to know what we can do differently next time. Because my daughter is used to such dialogue, she will probably say that she can speak to me kindly and explain that she just wanted one more swing. I will then ask her what we can do if she doesn't listen again. She will reply that maybe I can just say "one more chance" and she will then listen. On our following trip to the park I will remind her of our conversation, If again it doesn't work we will have to go back to the drawing board and think of another solution.

You may be thinking that this could carry on forever but it doesn't - the solution my daughter has now come up with (on her own) is that she can't watch TV if she doesn't listen to me (this is specifically in this scenario). The difference between this and a threat is that she has come up with the consequence and not me - she is problem solving. So, in the future, when she comes across a problem she will be far better equipped to deal with it because she already thinks for herself and is able to think outside of other people's threats.

I am only touching on the tip of this ice berg because I have recently witnessed a whole lot of parent to child threatening and just had to vent. I hope that it does make sense to any of you who read this and I hope it makes you look at the way you discipline your children - are you going to be a parent that teaches your child to listen to peer pressure or are you going to assist them in thinking for themselves? I hope it is the latter...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Answer...

I hope am not unique when I say that my mood can change very quickly (maybe it's a woman thing). One  moment I am inspired and energised and the next I am despondent and exhausted. Yes, I am going through quite a big change right now - from teacher to writer - and this, I know, is not an easy task but change is what I asked for so change is what I will welcome.

I read a quote the other day that started like this: "Don’t get bogged down looking for a way to persist. Just make sure you’re absolutely clear on why you have chosen to persist". I read this at the exact moment that I was feeling rather overwhelmed and rather 'bleh' about my chosen career path. Even though I KNOW I am doing what I am supposed to do and even though I KNOW that this might take some time, I forget to look at the WHY.

What I love about this quote (and I wish I knew who wrote it) is that it inspired me immediately. I even made it into my desktop background so that as soon as I start writing in the morning it will be there as a reminder. So right now I am going to answer that question and if you are also on the path of change I suggest you answer it as well.

Why have I chosen to persist?
I have chosen to persist because writing is like breathing to me. When I write I feel more alive, more conscious and more connected to who I am.
I have chosen to persist because I believe in myself (even though this is probably the first time I have admitted that).
I have chosen to persist because I want to be heard - I want my thoughts to be heard.
I have chosen to persist because I know that if I don't I will be letting a part of myself die and I might never get that part back again.
I have chosen to persist because I want to - it is so important to remember that it is in fact a choice - no one has forced me to do this and no one is forcing me to persist.

I have chosen to persist because I am who I am and I want the world to know me too.

"It is precisely the possibility of realising a dream that makes life interesting" - Paulo Coelho

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gift Certificates

According to Wikipedia, a gift certificate was first called a “scrip”. Scrip is an “American term for any substitute for currency which is not legal tender and is often a form of credit. Scrips were created as company payment of employees and also as a means of payment in times where regular money is unavailable, such as remote coal towns, military bases, ships on long voyages, or occupied countries in war time”.

You could receive a gift certificate like the one above and discover it was sent to you from the past by a welder named Klaus. Or the more likely scenario is that you have a voucher to go on the party pirate ship that sails around the Cape Peninsula. It seems like a lot of fun can be had with the making of gift vouchers. I have often thought that in some situations the best thing you can do is make a gift certificate for someone. For example, if a friend has just had a baby I could give her a voucher for one babysit or a home cooked meal – a voucher almost makes that offer more tangible and then they might remember to take you up on your offer.

Gift cards are of course another form of gift certificates. There would be a certain amount of money on the card already and you would have to spend it at the specified store or shopping centre. I think that these are really great, I know that I love getting them (especially if it’s a Woolworths one because then I have to shop there).

And then there are the gift vouchers that no one ever wants to get. Personally, I would not want this one. I wonder if there is gift certificate etiquette...can you pass it on to someone who can use it and just lie to you friend and say that you got the hammer you always wanted? I guess this falls under friend etiquette and then I guess the lying part would be inappropriate. I guess I could always buy a plant at the hardware store.

There are so many different types of gift certificates out there and in this day and age almost every shop has them. I think it is a great way to let someone choose what they want. And if you do get a gift voucher to some random shop like Dumbbells-R-Us then just make the best of it and be grateful for the gift of toned upper arms.


I was curious to know how many presents I would have bought for my immediate family if I lived to be 90 years old. I am guessing that I, personally, started buying gifts when I was 19 years old (before that my parents would have done it on my behalf). So, I am taking 5 family members (my parents, my sister, my husband and my daughter) with each of them receiving 2 presents a year (birthdays and Christmas) over a 71 year period. That is a total of 710 presents. I was hoping for a far more dramatic number like 3254 to be exact, so now I have no idea what the point of this blog is.
Let’s look at how much this would have cost me. Let’s say on average I have spent R200 per present (for my daughter this amount will be more) so that, in total, comes to R142 000...Aha! There’s the dramatic number I was looking for. So in other words, if I want to have a comfortable retirement I need to stop spending so much money on presents.
Unfortunately, I find it very difficult not to spend a lot of money on gifts. I love to spoil the people I love and the things I want to buy them always seem to cost a lot of money. This, however, is not my fault. I had come up with what I thought to be an ingenious plan the other day and shared it with my husband. “What if all over the world there was an immediate decrease in the cost of everything, for example, what if everything was cut down by 50%, all our problems would be solved.” My husband then replied (shattering my clever plan), “But what about salaries?” So there went the master plan – salaries would also be cut down by 50% and then we would all still be struggling but with far less money. Anyway, it was worth a try – I won’t bore you further with my brilliant idea of how to bring bartering back.
The point of my delightful story is that presents cost money – even if you make something it will cost you money, yes, it won’t be nearly as much (unless you make jewelry) but then you have to factor in the time to make all these gifts. The ideal situation would be if you then discover that you are great at making gifts and you start selling them and then make lots of money.
My goodness! I am really not staying on topic at all. It always amazes me that while I write something with a certain topic in mind I sometimes find myself writing something completely different. What I really wanted to say was that gift giving to me is something I enjoy and if the total was 3254 I would be thrilled because it meant that I had had people to love in my life and people who love me. What I also just realised is that the amount of presents you give is probably the same amount that you get (not that this is the point at all). This blog has not turned out the way I wanted it to but anyway, I guess I am a least delivering on my promise to share with you my thoughts as they are “write now”. If you have continued to read this far, I greatly appreciate you sticking through this very random blog on presents.

Wedding Gift Registry and General Gift Registry

A wedding gift registry is the only way that a soon to be married couple can actually get what they want and what they need. Very few people are going to be honest about they want if you ask them but if you have a registry it tells the guests for you.
I can imagine, however, that now a days, with couples already living together before they get married, that some people already have the most obvious wedding gifts such as kitchen appliances, crockery and picture frames. So maybe the wedding registry is going out of fashion. My husband and I stated on our wedding invite that “your presence is present enough but money for our honeymoon would be much appreciated”. We had all the homely items that we needed and frankly, we didn’t have the space for any homely items that we wanted, so if anything, money would be most welcome. And because of this we were able to buy a bed and a braai – in my opinion these are two vital items needed for any marriage.
A wedding registry can only be extremely useful if the couple has not lived together and they are both coming from home (where they lived with their parents) and do literally not own a single thing of their own. In this situation it is, I’m sure, a wonderful way to get all the things you need to get your home all homely.
General gift registry is a foreign concept to me. It would make me feel uncomfortable to have a registry for my birthday. In fact, I have never heard of anyone having a registry for anything but a wedding. I can imagine that it could work for a baby shower or possibly an engagement party (but then surely you couldn’t do one for your wedding as well)...mmm...I’m not sure about this. Maybe it is more for upper upper class individuals who splurge on any occasion and it is just common practice to have a gift registry when you son turns 2 years old.
I am wracking my brain to think on what other occasion you could have a general gift registry. Maybe a 20th wedding anniversary (still I feel this is something for the elite part of society). I guess, however, that the registry doesn’t have to be somewhere expensive. You could have one at Mr. Price Home or Pep or even Builders Warehouse. Then even Mr. Joe Smith could have a registry for his 50th birthday and everyone can choose between garden hose nozzles and braai tools. It could work I guess.
Maybe people would be really relieved to no longer guess what someone wants for their birthday and maybe I am just to shy to tell people, “this where I have a gift registry, go and buy me what I want”. I have never thought so much about gifts registries before and I have never changed my mind about a concept while writing a blog. So, if anything, random gift registries have served their purpose already.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Adventure Gift Voucher and Adventure Bookings

I think that there are very few people who look back at their life and say, “I wish I didn’t have so many adventures”. If anything, people say that they were not adventurous enough. I think that most people also need a little push when it comes to trying out any extreme sport experience. A gift of an adventure gift voucher is a great idea when you have a friend who doesn’t have the guts to take the first step.

An adventure experience I am assuming involves doing an extreme sport of some sort. You get board sports which involve activities such as sand boarding, kite surfing and flow boarding. With motorsports you could do things such as motocross, drifting and motorcycle rallying. Then there are water sports which involve activities such as kayaking and scuba diving. Mountaineering includes ice climbing, rock climbing and bouldering. And finally there is freefall which is wing-suit flying, BASE jumping and parachuting. All the above activities would make great gifts in the form of an adventure gift voucher.

With an adventure gift voucher you can give someone the opportunity to do anything from rally racing to windsurfing and free-diving to bungee jumping – the possibilities are endless when the gift is an adventure gift voucher – and the best thing is that you can choose something that you know the person has wanted to do. Just an idea, but it would probably be best if you join them as well (you can’t tell someone that they will have a great time jumping out of an airplane if you wouldn’t do it yourself).

As well as adventure gift vouchers you can also do adventure bookings for groups. Adventure bookings would be done for corporate teambuilding and tourists or even just a group of friends or family members. I am sure there are few activities that could bring a team (or a family) together like the fear of dying. I can just picture everyone speaking their mind as they plummet towards the ground...on second thought this might do the opposite and tear your team apart. Well, I still think that adventure bookings seem like a swell idea.

I asked my husband what he thought of if I mentioned the words ‘adventure bookings’ and he first laughed, then said, “4 x 4’s, camping, roughing it”. At least now I know to never give him a wing-suit flying voucher. I believe that the aim of these ‘adventures’ is to thrill and excite and to release the following hormones into our blood stream – dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and most importantly adrenalin. Maybe that’s why a corporation would make an adventure booking for its staff – because it will make them all temporarily happy with adrenaline induced happy hormones.

An adventure booking is also a bit risky because you have to take into account that some people are just really attached to being alive and they might not take part as freely as others. Maybe it is best to check with everyone before hand and maybe split into a few different groups. For example, you could have the ‘live long’ group, the ‘when it’s my time it’s my time’ group and lastly the ‘I don’t give a f#%k’ group...yip, that should do the trick.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Microlight Flight

I once saw a man on Hout Bay beach with his own flying contraption. I am calling it a contraption because neither me nor my husband could remember what it was called. We thought of names such as paragliding, no, that’s not it, parasailing, no silly, that’s in the water and then turbo flight; that one we made up. But I have since then been enlightened and now know the correct term for this man’s activity – it is microlight flight.
Thinking back to that moment on the beach, I actually had never heard of this term before so we would have never come up with the correct name anyway – it would be the last name I would have given such an incredible contraption. In my mind ‘micro’ means small and ‘light’ means, well, the opposite of heavy and ‘flight’ is just flight so that is not misleading at all. If I had to make up a name it would be maxiheavy flight – a far more appropriate name I think...
Anyway, according to it is considered to be the motorbike of the sky. This I can believe; it does resemble a motorbike with large wings – quite a novel idea. I think that I am definitely up for a microlight flight experience.
This feels a lot safer than the aerobatic flights I wrote about before, and with the microlight flight experience you actually have an opportunity to look around and admire the view without fearing the next life-threatening 360 degree turn. Can you imaging flying over the ocean and spotting a school of dolphins or even a great white shark? If I am going to go up in the air in a random contraption I want to at least experience all the wonders of flying and one of those wonders is seeing the world from a different angle.
By observing this man do his microlight flight thing over Hout Bay beach, it seemed that it didn’t go that fast either. It wasn’t a Sunday-driver kind of slow but more a this-is-fun-and-I-feel-safe kind of fast. I have to just add that I was in complete awe of this man that, at 4pm, parked his car at the beach, took out his microlight flight contraption, got it ready and off he went. Most people go for a jog after work (most people are still at work at 4pm) but not this guy...he flies.
Who ever thought of this motorbike in the sky idea (and was brave enough to try it out) was a genius. I am comforted by the fact that this contraption has been tried and tested for many many years, so it is now up to us to be like Hout Bay beach man and fly – fly like maxiheavy birds in the sky.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chocolate Tasting

I am pretty sure that there are very very very few women who would turn down an opportunity to do chocolate tasting. Personally, I only crave chocolate first thing in the morning, after a nap or when that time of the month rolls by. But none the less, I would definitely say ‘yes’ to a chocolate tasting experience.
I was recently at a friends house and was given some pure chocolate to try and because I am so trained to think that all chocolate is sweet and tasty, it didn’t even cross my mind to doubt the taste of this ‘pure chocolate’ – surely it would just be even more awesome? Alas, I was proven to be very naïve when it comes to chocolate and chocolate tasting because when I put this piece of chocolate in my mouth I pulled a face that my 6 year daughter would be proud of.
What this person meant by pure chocolate was that it was pure 100% cocoa with no sugar, cocoa butter, milk etc. It was bitter and strong and after 10 minutes of this chocolate tasting I was on a pure cocoa buzz. I did not like it at all but worst of all it made me question what I always considered ‘real’ chocolate to be. Oh, the betrayal! I had to know what was in the ‘normal’ chocolate at the shops and why on earth did it not taste like this pure chocolate.

There are actually far more different types of chocolate than I thought – I will mention a few and no, I did not do a chocolate tasting with all of these. Chocolate liqueur is the basis of all types of chocolate, nothing is added, and it ironically doesn’t contain alcohol. It contains about 53% cocoa butter (fat). Cocoa Butter is the fat that is expelled when chocolate liquor is pressed to make cocoa powder (this gives our ‘shop chocolate’ its creamy texture).Unsweetened chocolate is chocolate liquor that has been allowed to cool and harden and is used for baking. Dark chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar in varying amounts.

Milk chocolate contains at least 10% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar and at least 12% milk – An EU regulation states that milk chocolate must legally have a minimum of 25% cocoa solids. White chocolate is actually not considered chocolate because it does not contain any chocolate liquor only cocoa butter, milk and sugar. And who, you may ask, makes all these rules and guidelines about chocolate production? I will tell you who...The Chocolate Manufacturers Association...yes, something like that does actually exists. I guess it is quite an obvious association to have, but it would never have crossed my mind

So there you have it – the legalities and ingredients involved the production of chocolate. I know that I will never forget the taste of that pure chocolate and whenever I eat a ‘normal’ chocolate I will be reminded of how far it actually is from the real thing. I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing but one thing is for sure...chocolate is amazing and amazing it will always be... (And I so should have done a chocolate tasting of my own while writing this post).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cooking Lessons - Sushi Making

The only thing that I find remotely appealing about sushi is the making of it. Making sushi, I imagine it involves a certain degree of precision. I am a perfectionist and so, visually, sushi appeals to me. Those little rolls of fish, rice and seaweed are like little rolls of perfection. Would I ever eat it? No. Would I taste it? No. But would I like to learn how they make them? Yes.
Cooking lessons in sushi making is something that I would thoroughly enjoy. I think that I would find a great deal of satisfaction when, after rolling up all the ingredients, I slice it and discover that perfect fishy pattern inside. I would then have to arrange all these little rolls beautifully on a plate with some soy sauce and wasabi on the side – oh, the whole process would satisfy every aspect of my slightly OCD personality.
Sushi is described as a roll of fish or sea food with rice wrapped in nori (seaweed). You get two types of Sushi - Futomaki, which is bigger and usually contains two or more different fillings and then you get Hosomaki, which is smaller and contains only one filling, usually fish or seafood, but you could also just use one kind of vegetable. I am beginning to see how easy sushi making can be and how easy it would be to make non-fishy sushi (kind of defeats the purpose, I know) but then I could at least eat my beautiful creation and gain some taste satisfaction as well.
I think the essential item is a bamboo mat (which you place everything onto) but an alternative to the nori could be vine leaves or even spinach or spinach lasagne layers (once they have been cooked). Almost all ingredients could be replaced – instead of rice you could use cous cous or good ol’ fashioned South African pap and instead of fish and sea food you could use vegetables, avocado, chicken, soy mince…the possibilities are endless when making sushi at home...I do realise that it might no longer be considered sushi after all the changes.
Doing cooking lessons in sushi making, I assume, would be more for the person who intends on using the normal ingredients but I think that I will still enjoy the process even if I am not actually going to eat it. And I will enjoy watching the smiles appear on the faces of the people who devour my deliciously flawless little rolls of perfection.

Holiday Activities

When I think of holiday activities I immediately think of how much it is going to cost me. Any activity nowadays that is outside of your home costs not only money but quite a lot of money. During school holidays I am always at a loss as what I can do with my daughter that is not going to make me completely broke.
Possible holiday activities for kids include the Aquarium, going to the movies, watching a show at the theatre, the Scratch Patch, the Clay Cafe or the World of Birds. Taking into account that most school holidays are 2 to 3 weeks long, you can see how this can become quite a costly process.
I have, therefore, come up with a few holiday activities that are not as costly. In the summer holidays there is always the beach or a going to a park – my daughter always enjoys going to Seapoint promenade for a walk and playing on the jungle gyms. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is always another great option but only if the weather is good. Walks in the forest or a hike up a mountain are activities which I enjoy but I often need to do a great deal of convincing before my daughter can get as excited as me.
During winter holidays I find myself completely stuck because all the inexpensive holiday activities I have just mentioned are not possible because they are all outdoors. What is a mom do to? I usually end up doing the lunch and movie outing once but that in total usually costs about R300 (just for the two of us!). would be great if such places as the Aquarium and the World of Birds did not only think of tourists when deciding on their entrance South Africans also like to expose our children to such experiences and we would probably do it more often if it didn’t cost so much.
The one winter holiday activity that I can always count on is the Natural History Museum at the Gardens in Cape Town. Children do not pay an entrance fee and adults are only R30. The Planetarium is also very reasonable and such a wonderful experience for children to have.
I have learnt to be more and more resourceful when it comes to keeping my child happy and busy during school holidays. Art activities at home are another great way to spend an afternoon. Small canvases and craft paints are surprisingly cheap and my daughter always enjoys creating her own masterpiece. Making your own play dough (flour, hot water, salt and food colouring) is always lots of fun and then, of course, there is always baking.
In the beginning of the holidays I always wonder how I am going to keep my daughter occupied but with a little creative thinking and lots of outside-the-box thinking I am always able to find holiday activities that keep both my child and my bank balance happy.

Gifts for Couples and Dinner for Two

The only time I buy gifts for couples is when I am attending a wedding. It makes it a lot easier when couples have a registry or if they are very specific about what they want for a gift - if you ask for money or you specify that you need some things for your kitchen or for your lounge, then it makes the buying of wedding gifts far easier.
Other situations where you would have to buy a gift for a couple would be on an anniversary, maybe a 20th or 50th wedding anniversary. I would think that by then they probably have everything they need and besides money, I think the best way to go (gift wise) would be to give them an experience of some sort – a dinner for two, a couples massage, tickets to a concert or the theatre or even a weekend away (if you can afford that sort of a gift).
I think it is not unheard of that by the time you have been married for 20 years you possibly have a bit of routine as to which restaurants you go to - where you always sit at the same table and possibly even order the same food and wine. Therefore, a voucher for dinner for two at a swanky restaurant may be just what you need.
A house-warming is another occasion where you might need to buy gifts for couples. Here the gifts can be just about anything. At first I thought, “What is the difference between this gift and the wedding gift?” But actually there is a huge difference. For a house-warming you can buy the couple anything from a door-stop to a tumble dryer or a shower mat to a foot stool. Plants are also great house-warming gifts, especially if you know that the couple is thinking of reproducing – I always think it is a rather good test of some sort – if the plant lives then, yay, you will be great parents – if the plant dies then maybe rethink the offspring idea.
This links me to the next occasion where you might buy a gift for a couple (assuming their plant is still alive) – the announcement of a baby. You can either go down the road of buying the expecting couple something for the baby or you can go down the road less traveled and buy something for the couple instead. I think you could have a lot of fun with this one, especially if you yourself is a parent because then you will know what they need and want (post birth of the human plant). Vouchers for home-cooked meals, babysits and massages will be greatly appreciated by the new parents. Personally, I appreciated these offerings far more that a bag of 100 nappies.
All in all, any gifts for couples need to be as personalised as possible. Whether it is an anniversary, a house-warming or a baby shower, you need to look at the kind of people they are as a couple and take into account what they might be going through. When it comes to gifts, I believe that extravagance is not always as effective as thoughtfulness.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spa Vouchers

When I resigned from teaching I was given a spa voucher as a farewell gift. I am not a lady of leisure so any kind of pampering (in that form) is completely foreign to me. I know pampering that comes in the form of a glass of wine while my husband makes dinner or a night out with my husband or an impromptu  shoulder massage  or when I let my six year old daughter do my make-up – make no mistake, these are things I love and thoroughly enjoy. But when it comes to pampering in the form of a spa treatment, I am a complete novice.
I will be honest and say that the whole concept of letting a stranger massage my entire body was slightly unnerving. The spa voucher stayed on my bedside table for about 3 months before I actually used it. I decided to use it two weeks before I got married; it seemed like a perfect pre-wedding activity. I had also quit smoking (again) and was feeling very healthy – these two factors resulted in me making the call and going in for my first ever full-body massage.
The day before, I prepared myself by shaving and washing my hair, straightening my hair and selecting an outfit. I realise that this may all sound unnecessary but I wanted to make sure that nothing in my appearance would give away the fact that this was not the world I lived in. The world of spa vouchers, manicures, pedicures, weekly massages, champagne lunches and Prada hand bags was not (and is still not) my world.
On arrival at the spa I was greeted with a smile and they even knew my name. I waited for a while in the waiting lounge reading a magazine. All I could hear was running water and all I could smell were scented candles and aromatherapy oils – I would recommend going to spend a few hours in the waiting room of a spa; even that experience was pretty relaxing. After handing them my spa voucher I was lead to the changing rooms.
I had my own locker key and inside this locker I would find my robe, a very very tiny pair of panties (that could have been mistaken for a hair-band) and some comfy slippers. I was told to change into the robe and slippers and then make my way to the couches by the candles.  This specific spa treatment center was made to look like a cave. The walls were only made out of large rocks and behind me were stairs leading down to, what looked like, underground rock pools. This place was heavenly.
As I was gawking, mouth open, at this amazing place, a woman came up to me with a bowl of warm water and said that she was going to wash my feet. I almost said that she didn’t have to (to me it felt like such a degrading act, you know, to wash someone else’s feet) but I stopped myself. This is what these people do for a living (and I know how much that spa voucher cost) so I sat back at let the pampering begin.
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience and I would love to do it again. But I am also so grateful that this is not a regular part of my world because then I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much. Every woman deserves to be pampered and treated like a queen once in her life, so if you are looking for a wonderful gift for a woman, this is definitely the way to go.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wine Tasting

In my opinion, there is one essential thing that is needed when doing a day of wine tasting. You absolutely need to have a designated driver. I am not saying that is essential that you drink so much that you resemble a drunken sailor but we all know that even after four tastings you might be over the legal driving limit. So find someone who (for some bazaar reason doesn’t drink) and head off to nearest cluster of wine farms.
I would think that twelve o’clock is a good time to start. Make sure you have had a big oily breakfast of bacon and eggs and then get going. I say twelve o’clock because that seems to be the socially acceptable time to start drinking and because then, after a few wine tastings, you can buy a bottle (or two) to share with your friends while enjoying a wonderful lunch at a beautiful vineyard.
There are some wine farms that suggest you spit out the wine after tasting. You first swirl the wine around in your glass, then you take a sniff, then you take a sip and then you spit. After all of this you need say something intelligent like, “I can taste the fruit under-tone and even a hint of lavender” and then the person pouring the wine will nod and smile at your impressive knowledge of wine.
There are many types of wine that you will be trying on your wine tasting excursion. Let’s start with the white wine – Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurtztraminer (never in my life have I heard of that one but it sounds like the hangover might be bad), Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Reisling and Sauvignon Blanc. Personally, I like a good Chardonnay, my favourite being Zonnebloem but I have been known to dabble in a little Sauvignon Blanc once in a while.
Then we get the red wines – Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Shiraz are the names that sound familiar to me but the following I know nothing about - Cabernet Franc, Chianti, Barolo, Barberesco, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, Tempranillo, Grenache, Bordeaux, and Côtes du Rhône. The only red wine I will gladly drink is my dad’s (he has a vineyard at the back of his house and makes only red wine). Generally, red wine’s dry after taste reminds me, for some reason, of chalk on a chalkboard. So unless it is my dad’s Klip Huis Wyn (Shiraz) I am not likely to try it, even at a wine tasting
All in all, I would say that there is quite a lot to learn on a day of wine tasting. You learn about wine, you learn about the area that you are in and about the vineyards. And most importantly, you get to have a great day out with your friends and I am sure that the more you drink, the more you will learn about them too.

Cooking School and Culinary Classes

I am not a natural cook or baker. I have a few standard recipes (mostly taken from the meals my parents used to cook for me) and some that I have invented on my own. I do not know what spices go with what food or what sauce will make a certain dish taste awesome. I just don’t have that natural cooking instinct. Baking makes me anxious because I never know if it is going to turn out OK and the messiness of baking doesn’t work well with my obsessive compulsive tidy gene.
If anybody should take culinary classes it should be me. Show me exactly how to make something and show me that the end result will be tasty and then I will be able to reproduce it at home. Reading recipes from cookbooks or magazines doesn’t work for me because I am so sure that I will miss a vital step and then instead of making potato fritters I end up making extra warm mashed potato.
Cooking school is unfortunately not a cheap way of learning how to cook. I think you need to actually have a passion for cooking to attend an actual cooking school – you need to be one of those people that feels that cooking as an art, that it is a creative process. I find nothing creative about the process of cooking, my language might get quite creative when I mess it up, but other than that it is just one of those things I need to do in order to make my tummy happy. Cooking, for me, is purely an act which results in me and my family being fed.
I wish I could be a culinary genius and have an endless amount of recipes in my head at any given moment, but right now I can only think of these – potato bake, quiche, lasagne, grilled vegetables and cous cous, pasta with creamy mushroom sauce and braai food (yes, that does count). It is not a bad start, but I think that some culinary classes will definitely be beneficial.
I must admit that baking has become more enjoyable now that my daughter gets involved. Her happiness becomes my happiness and I tend to worry less about the flour and the eggs and the sugar and the baking powder spilling on the counter and the floor and on her clothes and the dishes that keep piling up and…OK, maybe those things still bother me…but I am trying to let go and rather just experience it through her eyes. Cooking school for kids would be a great idea; Kayla would love to go to culinary classes, I would love that too - she could teach me instead.
The Collins dictionary states that to cook is “to prepare food by the action of heat, as by boiling, baking, etc, or of food to become ready for eating through such a process.” If only it could be that easy, but alas, it involves ingredients, creativity, functional taste buds and most of all the ability to enjoy the task of cooking. What I have definitely learnt (in my 7 years of cooking for myself) is that an angry cook makes yucky food but a happy cook makes delicious food, no matter how mediocre it may be.