Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I'd much rather be lazing around the house today, than at work...
I can't WAIT for this long weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Check out this AWESOME blog!

So... there I was, stuffing around at my desk one day, when I stumbled upon Shorpy, the coolest blog I've seen in a while. Here's how it describes itself: is the 100-year-old photography blog that brings our ancestors back, at least to the desktop. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a boy who worked in an Alabama coal mine near the turn of the century. What became of Shorpy? Here's a summary of what we think we know, based on research using census and death records, contributed by visitors to this site: Shorpy -- Henry Sharp Higginbotham -- was born Nov. 23, 1896, in Jefferson County, Alabama, to Phelix Milton Higginbotham and the former Mary Jane Graham. On Nov. 19, 1927, he married Flora Belle Quinton. On Jan. 25 of the following year he died in a mine accident at the age of 31, crushed by a rock, and was buried in Jefferson County. He became a father, posthumously, when his widow bore his child in the summer of 1928. The writer Joe Manning says he has spoken with Shorpy's son but that he didn't want to talk.

The pictures tell amazing stories and I'm absolutely hooked!

Here's where all the magic happens!

My desk... and as you can see I'd rather be blogging than working!
And the view from the glass doors of our office, - the sparkly pool that we take a dip into whenever it gets too hot. (It's Durban, you know! You gotta be prepared for the 40degree summer heat!)

I ADORE rainy days!

... But Sabrina hates them!
She can't wander around the garden, sniffing every blade of grass & "securing the perimeter" against stray cats. She can't perform the most basic of loo-functions seeing as the earth is far to damp and gross to dig into. She can't terrorise the birds, - in fact there are no birds to even look at anyway.
Yes rainy days are sucky for cats!
GREAT for humans, but sucky for cats!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

MAO'S LAST DANCER - LI CUNXIN ** says: From a desperately poor village in northeast China, at age eleven, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America-and with an American woman. Two years later, through a series of events worthy of the most exciting cloak-and-dagger fiction, he defected to the United States, where he quickly became known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world. This is his story, told in his own inimitable voice. Li Cunxin was born in a village near the city of Qingdao, in northern China. At eighteen, he was selected to perform with the Houston Ballet, leading to his dramatic defection to the United States. Li, who has performed as a principal dancer with the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet, now lives with his wife and their three children.
I say: The 2 stars are purely for the story, not the writing! Before he put his amazing story down on paper, Li should have read Stephen King's book on writing, and followed the always-chop-it-by-a-third-no-matter-how-good-it-is rule! This book was about 100 pages too long, and it also felt a little too sentimental and wishy-washy at times. Li is wracked with guilt over leaving China and his poverty stricken family, but no matter how many pages he throws at us, he's never going to be able to change the past. What's done is done. Get over it, Li. Your family loves you for the success that you've made of yourself, and please... No more books! Stick to ballet.


Publishers Weekly says: Chef at New York's Les Halles and author of Bone in the Throat, Bourdain pulls no punches in this memoir of his years in the restaurant business. His fast-lane personality and glee in recounting sophomoric kitchen pranks might be unbearable were it not for two things: Bourdain is as unsparingly acerbic with himself as he is with others, and he exhibits a sincere and profound love of good food. The latter was born on a family trip to France when young Bourdain tasted his first oyster, and his love has only grown since. He has attended culinary school, fallen prey to a drug habit and even established a restaurant in Tokyo, discovering along the way that the crazy, dirty, sometimes frightening world of the restaurant kitchen sustains him. Bourdain is no presentable TV version of a chef; he talks tough and dirty. His advice to aspiring chefs: "Show up at work on time six months in a row and we'll talk about red curry paste and lemon grass. Until then, I have four words for you: 'Shut the fuck up.' " He disdains vegetarians, warns against ordering food well done and cautions that restaurant brunches are a crapshoot. Gossipy chapters discuss the many restaurants where Bourdain has worked, while a single chapter on how to cook like a professional at home exhorts readers to buy a few simple gadgets, such as a metal ring for tall food. Most of the book, however, deals with Bourdain's own maturation as a chef, and the culmination, a litany describing the many scars and oddities that he has developed on his hands, is surprisingly beautiful. He'd probably hate to hear it, but Bourdain has a tender side, and when it peeks through his rough exterior and the wall of four-letter words he constructs, it elevates this book to something more than blustery memoir.
I say: This book gets 4 stars because I am, at present, madly in love with Anthony Bourdain. The man can do no wrong right now! What can I say? I always get a little neek-in-the-wees when there's a Bad Boy around and Anthony is the quintessential bad boy of the kitchen! It's crazy... I'm crazy... Crazy in lurve!
(Oh yes... The book is also very good. Do yourself a favour and find out where your hollandaise sauce really comes from, and why you should ever have the half price sushi. It will change the way you look at the restaurant industry forever!)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

OK! So they're not perfect...

... But they're MINE!
These are 2 of the ±10granny squares that I've already crocheted as part of my homemade afghan project. Also in the shot you'll see the colours that I've chosen: ivory, denim blue and dusty pink. (Ok! I know that granny squares are traditionally made up from the scraps of wool that you don't want to throw away, but this is my first project and I therefore don't have any scraps to begin with! Hence the new wool.) I've started with plain squares for now, just until I get the hang of it, and then I'll attempt some stripy ones, alternating the 3 colours until I have my 6 rows. So far, by some miracle, they're all the same size and seem to be consistent. (Consistently wonky, but still consistent!)
It all started at my friend Debbie Veldman's baby shower, where I was completely blown away by the beautiful baby blankets that Deb's aunt had made for the baby. They reminded me of the baby blankets that my aunts made for my brothers and I 25-32 years ago (which I still have by the way) as well as the beautiful baby things that my mom knitted for us while she was pregnant. She was quite an ace, and I think that she still has some of those things locked away in a trunk along with our white baby baptismal gown. (All 3 of us shared the same one, - a family heirloom. I think it might have been made from white fabric from my mom's wedding dress, but I'm not sure. Don't quote me.)
As you can tell, I'm a real sucker for traditional stuff, - a sentimental old fart, if you will. So the thought of being able to make something for my brothers' children (and my own?) when they/I eventually decide to have kids, really appealed to me. And even though my crochet stitches are a little "tense" and not quite soft/fuzzy enough, my mom has been impressed enough to ask me to make a small blankie for my gran, - just big enough to throw over her knees when it gets a little chilly...
Apart from these reasons, crocheting granny squares is perfect for me, because I never seem to finish my creative projects! It's a running joke at my house that you can often hear me rummaging around in the middle of the night, fiddling with my "project-du-jour", - beading/sewing/creating something! And before long, I lose interest (or get distracted by another sparkly thing) and the project gets thrown in a packet at the back of my wardrobe somewhere. Granny squares are great because:
1. I can do them while I "watch" (read: absorb) tv, so I'm not missing any of my precious tv time.
2. I can complete a square in ±1hour (6 rows).
3. Each finished square feels like a successfully completed project. (There's nothing like tying those final lose threads together securely!) I'll join the squares together eventually but I'm not focusing on The End, or The Big Picture, losing track of the work process like I always do. Now I'm taking it one successfully completely square at a time!
So... I'm not going to ask you to watch this space to catch the progress of my afghan, because quite frankly, it could take years to complete. And I'm fine with that. What I will do is post pics from time to time, to show how the squares are adding up, and to show off how adventurous I might get with the alternating colours/rows etc.
And that's all for today from Carmen's World, where it's hip to make squares!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Bella Ella!

What is it with girls and shoes?
I work with little Ella Potterton's dad, in a converted granny flat at his mom's place. His mom (the granny) looks after Ella for a couple of days every week, so we have the absolute pleasure of watching her grow up and catching all of her antics!
Her latest obsession is shoes... The higher, the better! Seeing as I've fallen down the driveway three times already, I put the heels on hold until we get premises of our own preferably with a level driveway that 2-left-legged people like myself can't do serious damage on! But Jane, our admin/traffic lady is still brave enough to wear her red patent leather wedges every-so-often... And of course, Ella is smitten! She comes in to great us, searching out Jane's heels out of the corner of her eye and nabs them when her dad's not looking. Jane has been known to go the entire day without her shoes, often sitting in meetings with clients with bare feet, while Ella is taking her afternoon nap upstairs, comfortably tucked in, with Jane's red heels still on her little feet...
Her dad has finally resorted to buying her little plastic dress-up shoes for kids but, if you ask me, the ones he chooses just aren't pink/sparkly enough, so you can image my excitement this weekend when I spotted these!
She couldn't wait to put them on this morning when I gave them to her, and has been quite happy klonking around on her grandparents' wooden floors for hours now!
* sigh *
It's GREAT being a girl!