A recipe shared…

The other day I added a sparkly, dazzling, disco-like button to my blog…I’ll wait while you look.  Seen it?  Okay – let’s continue.
This button, when clicked, will take you to a blog called “No, Really, you can eat it” (yes, really) where Melanie shares recipes and all sorts of interesting stuff.

She offered to give me a recipe as thanks for sharing her shiny button.  I advised her that a salad recipe would be appreciated as it is so gosh darn hot in Durban at the moment.

Here is the recipe.  Enjoy!


I reread the post I wrote last year about breast cancer awareness as it is October (again?!).  Itis ironic that the inspirational Steve Jobs died yesterday at the age of 56thanks to cancer.  I had a veryunproductive day workwise as I watched videos of his brilliant speeches and readarticles on his life. 
Cancer does not discriminate.  Steve Jobs’s exceptional mind and infinitewealth could not save him from the ravages of cancer.   

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me.Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s whatmatters to me” – Steve Jobs

Please, beautiful people, don’t be complacent if you suspectanything is not as it should be. Cancer kills more people every year than AIDS,tuberculosis and malaria combined.

“Your time on this earth is limited; don’t live someoneelse’s life, live by your vision.” – Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011


Carte Blanche on a Sunday night has always been a must watch on my TV viewing schedule. Sometimes I am not sure why because it is generally very depressing. Not the light hearted frivolity that one needs to end a weekend.

They do feature happy or inspiring stories from time to time. One such insert was on The Ubuntu Girl – Sonja Kruse. She left her dorp of Eshowe with R100, a camera and a backpack to walk around South Africa. Bloody nuts, right? I agree.

So when I saw that she was going to be the guest speaker at The Inspiring Women Network banquet at the Riverside Hotel nearby – I immediately booked my ticket (besides – the dress code was traditional so I could finally wear my sparkly salwar again) I am not the jump out of aeroplanes or off bridges type of person. I see getting in my car to collect the Alien from school as quite adventurous considering how some people drive. I am therefore interested to hear what makes people do crazy things. Why do they do it? Isn’t a balanced life staying at home with a glass of wine in one hand and the telly remote in the other? What gene am I missing that these lunatics seem to have a double dose of?

Well, besides having inherited the red hair gene in abundance, Sonja proved to be the most normal, down to earth person I have ever met. Her infectious giggle and sparkling personality is undoubtedly what earned her an invite into strangers’ homes every night of her year-long walkabout.

My key take-out after listening to the Ubuntu girl? We Saffers are still a distrusting and nervous bunch even with people like Sonja highlighting just how much good there is in this country. I am a positive and optimistic person but underlying fears and prejudices, although for the most part buried and ignored, will always rear their negative head and influence my thoughts and actions.

So, although I won’t be catching a taxi to Orania any time soon – I will make a more concerted effort to keep my mind open and my fears based on fact and not on prejudice. I still believe that collecting the Alien from school is a justified fear by the way.

Links for the UBUNTU Girl:
Facebook Page

Jeepers but it’s Hot, hey?

February in Durban comes around once a year (funny that!) Every year we Durbanites either bitch or bask in the weather that we experience.

Let me explain for those who do not know what it is like in Durban, KZN, South Arica. It is “blerrie” hot and humid! You never feel dry. Taking a cool shower in the morning is a relief after waking up hot and sticky from tossing about all night playing cat and mice with mosquitoes and trying to find a cool spot on your bed. That relief is short lived because you then realise that you may only be fully dry in about a months’ time. Clothes stick to you as you try to get dressed and make-up for ladies becomes a joke as it is probably going to reach your belly button before lunchtime.

The incessant rains of December and January, which fall daily when Durban is packed with tourists, comes to a halt. Any rainfall just adds to the humidity and is seen as a curse not a blessing even though grass is starting to resemble the Highveld in winter.

Geckos, those awful transparent creatures that crawl about ones walls and “drop their load” (aka poop) all over your curtains, are revered for their mosquito catching skills. Bread not eaten within 2 days turns into a science project. Just how many colours of mould are there? Even leather handbags and shoes cannot escape the tyranny of the humidity as they develop a film of white, smelly mould.

True, a lot of Durbanites have swimming pools. So what? A dip in the pool is more like taking a bath. You need to dose the pool with so much chlorine to keep the algae away that it is a bath that removes your first 6 layers of skin and burns your eyes so that you look like a pink eye patient all month. That last layer of precious skin peels off anyway because applying moisturiser is like trying to mix oil and water.

So, for the month of February, ladies pack away their defunct hair straighteners and blow dryers. Deodorant and sunscreen sales skyrocket. Lethargy is a common complaint and the talk around water coolers is repetitive – “Phew, how hot is it today?” Love it or hate it, February in Durban does come to an end and Durbanites once again boast about living in the best little patch of paradise in the world.

An Elephant Coast Experience

The idea of getting up at 4:45am to pack and get to Gateway by 6:45am did not blow my hair back but believe you me, it was all worth it. I had been invited by Carol of Personal Touch to join a group of event and conference organisors to attend a site inspection trip in Zululand.

On the trip up on a luxury coach, we all got to know each other. There were about 28 of us – strangers faced with spending the next few days together. It became apparent that there was nothing strange about any of these folk. What a great bunch!

The next 3 days went by in a haze of teambuilding, stunning venues, activities, wild animals, delicious food and memorable experiences.

At Ghost Mountain Inn the staff were so warm, knowledgeable and helpful we felt that we were leaving friends behind when we finally departed. A drive up the Ubombo Mountains through the local Zulu community, followed by drinks and snacks overlooking Jozini Dam once we reached the top, was fantastic. The boat trip on the Jozini Dam the next day was …umm…very wet. It poured with rain. Spotting hippos popping their heads out the dam and wriggling their ears at us made our sodden state worthwhile though.

I am not keen on seeing animals in captivity but at Zulu Croc I could see that the snakes and crocodiles were well looked after and happy. The guides crammed us with fascinating facts. That reminds me, I still need to check if Vine snakes ever hang out in Durban North.

I felt relaxed the minute I arrived at Amorello Bush Golf Lodge. Could have been the yummy cocktail but I think it was the warm, close to nature ambiance that the place exudes. Although we were all pretty bushed after all our gallivanting about and early mornings, a good few of us partied till late, getting to meet some locals who frequent Amorello for its well stocked pub and pizza oven.

Considering the bleary eyes the next day – it was a good thing that it started with a look at Amorello’s eye-opening Ihlozi Private Lodge. I can but dream of spending a weekend there one day when I grow up!

Let me fill you in here that our itinerary had changed because there was a newly graded road causing problems getting to Bayete Zulu. Our trip there had therefore been delayed so we were looking forward to seeing our last site. Probably 500 metres from our destination the mud got the better of our gallant driver who, after numerous attempts to get the coach through the slippery mud, had to concede defeat.

We were picked up by Land Rovers but not after some of us had squished through the mud. The Elephant Interaction that awaited us ensured we forgot about the mud in-between our toes as we touched, fed and talked to the elephants. Rambo, Rachael and their baby Jabulani had us all mesmerised.

The vast, open view from the stunning 4-Star Bayete Zulu was our backdrop for lunch. I was impressed by what Bayete Zulu offers to accommodate families with children considering its 4 –star opulence.

We arrived back in Durban a weary but happy group of friends. To coin a much used phrase during the tour…..Viva! Viva Carol van Niekerk and Shaun Visser and all the individuals who made the tour so special. Viva Zululand and the beautiful Elephant Coast of KZN. Viva to making new friend. Viva!

p.s. If you would like to see photos of the trip – check out Personal Touch’s Facebook Page

Gladys-the Iron Gladiator

Today is one of my favourite days of the year. It is the day that Gladys comes back from her annual leave. Gladys is the Superwoman who comes to our home twice a week to do all the jobs that I hate; cleaning bathrooms, loos, floors and most importantly – ironing.

I just don’t GET ironing. You iron one part of a garment and that creates creases in other parts of the garment. Where the hell are creases supposed to go in men’s Chino trouser legs? And what’s with those pleats at the back of men’s shirts? How far down the shirt are you supposed to iron the crease?

Okay, so I am crap at ironing. All the other house work is very achievable when avoidance is futile. Roxy the fox terrier drops more hairs daily than bombs during both World Wars. Add the hair of 3 cats and you can understand why I consider my vacuum cleaner the best purchase I have ever made in my life (Ummm…actually, maybe I revere the dish washer more. It is a close call.)

Feather dusters are pretty useful too. I suppose Gladys’s eyesight is worse than mine because she does not seem to see that there are more spiders per m² (judging by the cobwebs) in our house than in the Amazon Jungle. That begs the question – what are the tenants that crawl all over our walls doing to earn their stay? Geckos and their droppings are only tolerated because they are supposed to keep the fly/mozzie/spider/small creepy crawly population down. They had better pull up their sticky, transparent socks – or face imminent eviction.

I am sure that most of you will agree that housework is a thankless, tedious, never ending pain in the butt. No sooner have you caught up with all the washing and the basket is inexplicably filled with more dirty clothes (especially if you have an Alien in the house.) Dishes warrant a scientific study as they duplicate and triplicate in front of your eyes before you can get them into the dishwasher.

Gladys may not be the best cobweb exterminator nor does she command the English language enough to understand much that I say to her, but she is a Gladiator with an iron. For that reason, she can probably be classified as my BFF because she makes my life easier. Welcome back Gladys. I missed you.

Only the Good Die Young

So today (30 November) is my Mother’s birthday. Only problem is that my Mom died 27 year ago. I was 15 and she died the day before her 48th birthday.

I still remember us getting her up out of her (death) bed to sit at the dining room table to raise a glass to my youngest brother when he turned 16 just one week before she died. I am not surprised she died before her birthday! We would have hauled her out of her bed, high on pain killing morphine at the end stages of cancer, and forced her to drink some bubbles to celebrate her birthday. It was just what we did. We celebrated any achievement or significant occasion with some cheap, sparkly bubbles (even if it was just a shooter glass full.) And that is just the way my Mom loved it.

My Mother was an amazing woman. When I posted the fact that it was my Mother’s birthday on Facebook this morning one comment struck me in the tear ducts. This person and I have known each other since forever (I think we were in Grade 1 together.) She wrote:

Happy Birthday, Mrs Chalupsky, Lady of the cats and the curlers. Always prepared to have another half-dozen children roaming through the house, helping themselves to juice and sandwiches and generally causing chaos.

Wow! She has my Mom down to a tee. My Mom was a hairdresser but after having 4 kids in 5 years she resorted to working from home. She cut every kid in the neighbourhood’s hair and did perms and up-do’s for all the Yummy Mummy’s, Grannies and Desperate Housewives in Westville. I loved lying on her bed on a Saturday morning and listening to all the “skinner” whilst Mom fluffed and titivated the coifs of the Westville Villagers

And the cats? Like me, she couldn’t say no to a stray 4-legged furry creature needing a home. We had about 6 cats and 5 dogs at any given time.

She had her faults. As an adult and a mother I can now say she was too selfless. Too giving of everything she had; her time, her energy, her cooking expertise, her health…the list goes on. She never said No to anything asked of her.

I often ask myself if I was a good enough daughter to deserve a Mother like I had. How do I answer such a question when I was not yet an adult when I lost her? I look at my own daughter and wonder how she would cope if I were to die 1 year from now and the thought leaves me cold. She is such a baby still.

My three brothers and I were privileged and blessed to have had a mother like Mercia Chalupsky. My Dad found a rare gem. How true is the saying – only the good die young?

Pass me a tranquiliser – it’s birthday party time.

Anyone who has a child knows the stress. The offspring start planning the “big event” the minute they have gotten over the euphoria of the last birthday party. The annual party to celebrate them getting closer to independence and leaving home is a SERIUUUUS business.

Do they think for a moment of the pressure that their parents are faced with? “How many brats do I invite?” “If I host it at home – will I be perceived as a bore/battler/tight arse/ bad, bad parent? “If I don’t give the little darlings a drop dead gorgeous party pack with a few diamonds or platinum bars in it, my kid will be ostracised from the “in crowd” “Where will I get a (place your child’s current obsession here) cake from without it costing the same as the GDP of a small country – and be so big it could probably feed every resident of that country?” You get the picture? You got the picture when your 1st born turned one, right?

I have had my daughter’s parties at Mitchell Park (don’t complain – getting pooped on by a bird is lucky you ungrateful sprog); a hellishly expensive spot where the monsters played on jumping castles and ball ponds all afternoon (I know you are suffering from heat stroke, just drink some more red juice and please don’t pass out until your Mom gets back) or Durban’s “when all else besides your bank balance fails” venue – uShaka Marine World.

As a member of the Ama Glug Glug Wine Club, I get invited to “wine clubbers in training” birthday parties. For various reasons, most of the Gluggers offspring are still short people i.e. under 8 years old. I generally do not attend. I know! Bad friend! Duly ashamed and full of remorse.

I did go to a 3rd birthday party the other week though. No hired venue – it was at their home. The children were of varying ages. It was so good to see the older kids playing games like hide-and-go-seek and catches. Not an electronic hand held device in sight. The younger kids had a ball with paints, playdo and Marie biscuit decorating. No hired entertainer/clown/jumping castle/petting zoo. Just good old fashioned playtime. Kids and parents alike had a pleasant, stress-free morning.

Now, anyone know what is “in” for teenagers parties besides sleepovers and movies? The Alien’s 14th birthday is fast approaching and her only bright spark idea so far has been taking a few friends to the Roma Revolving Restaurant. What?! You are turning 14, my girl, not 40. How about Ushaka????

I await your clever ideas, fellow parents and party planners…..

Thank you

My little family are all asleep. I am sitting quietly by the candlelight listening to the sounds around me.

The bats are making their high pitched squeal that I have stopped hearing after all these years. I hear the barking of dogs, they must be bored as their voices are devoid of malice or anger. Frogs are singing their irritating yet strangely beautiful song.

There is a flutter and I watch one of the bats swoop clumsily down to drink from the swimming pool. It looks like a handkerchief flapping in the wind yet the air is still for once. Not a breath of wind.

The privilege of watching that bat so close to me that I could touch it makes me think of my early mornings and my afternoons. A troop of Vervet Monkeys grace my garden with their presence. The rampant guava tree needs serious trimming and the paw-paw trees are taking over but how can I cut them down when I have the joy of watching monkeys eating the fruit of these trees? Their human like antics are a joy to watch, a privilege to experience so close up.

My Eurythmics CD is playing softly in the background. Annie Lennox singing with her gruff voice is the perfect backdrop for this perfect evening. I have one of my cats curled up on my lap purring her melodic, peaceful purr. In the distance there is lightening flashing. Too far away to be a threat. I am nervous of thunder storms since my old lady got struck by lightning. My house is over 60 years old and she is in need of a facelift but I love her just the way she is.

The peace is overwhelming. I feel tears welling up in my eyes for no apparent reason. Who is responsible for such a beautiful world? The lights are twinkling around me. The evening sounds and movements are so tranquil. I do not believe in religion. Why do you have to go into a man built structure to talk to the Big Man? Isn’t he all around me as I sit here quietly enjoying his amazing creation?

A hadadah screeches in the distance. What on earth does it have to complain about this late at night? Oh yes. I spent last Saturday trying to find an organisation to help me when we found a hadadah with a broken neck thanks to a cruel human being with nothing better to do than destroy the beauty around him.

Yes, I am an agnostic but the magnitude of the beauty which is around me right now leaves no doubt that there is a higher being. Annie Lennox’s crooning, the frogs croaking, the dogs barking, the bats pinging…….Thank You. The tears that are flowing from my eyes are from pure gratitude and appreciation for what I sometimes take for granted. Wrapped up in the hustle and bustle and superficial “problems” of modern life, how seldom do I stop and appreciate what I actually have in abundance. Thank you whoever You are.