I’ll admit it. I couldn’t even make pasta.

My friend who just got engaged recently messaged me after her engagement party:

“I got 3 cookbooks. You know what that means…”

I told her she’d be fine, naturally, as we all know where my cooking skills stood while I was engaged.

Let’s just say, there were none. My cooking life motto today is “you learn fast, or you go hungry,” and no-one wants to go hungry.

The kitchen was the place I ate dinner at home. I never joined in on cooking, and I don’t even recall my mom asking me to help, because she’d probably have gotten a big no. I could not boil pasta, I could not make rice, and I can’t explain the joy on our parents’ faces when we received not one, but four toasted cheese machines for our engagement! (don’t worry, we took two back). Everyone pitied Greg, who couldn’t cook anything either may I add, wondering what this grown boy would be eating for the rest of his life.

We never cooked for the first few weeks of being married. During the week of Sheva Brachot, the week commencing the wedding, we small dinner parties were hosted in our honour at different friends and family. They also gave us all the leftovers, so we were pretty sorted for a long, long time.

 

And when all the leftovers were finished, we needed to learn to cook. We actually went to a friend one night who taught us to cook fish and roast vegetables. Literally. How to roast freaking vegetables. I think I even struggled to cut the butternut. It’s really funny thinking back to those times. We’ve since been cooking fish and roast veggies like pros.

We barely cooked Shabbos supper for our first year of marriage because we were always invited out (ok, often we’d invite ourselves out too). Nowadays, we cook shabbos for 7 – 10 people like it’s no big deal (ok, it’s 10 purely because that’s how many we can fit around our table. Also, I think we only have 12 plates), and people at work always seem to think that I’m cooking crazy shabbos meals every week.

We’ve learnt to make some fancy, and even very simple foods. We make quiche without a base (because who has time to make all that pastry?), make our own delicious challah for shabbos, chicken a la king, risotto is a recent favourite, delicious fish, we’re having foreign friends over and making a South African bobotie.

I wouldn’t even quite go so far as saying I love cooking. I do like to eat though, and I like to try new things sometimes. More than cooking, I like entertaining, and cooking up nice things for guests. I even find baking a mission – even though I somehow got this reputation as a baker – all those measuring utensils, spoons, bowls etc that need to be cleaned? But I do love a good or impressive dessert. Greg on the other hand actually likes cooking. Guys, I kid you not when I tell you we were useless. The other week we even bought egg poacher pod things, and had poached eggs for the first time!

When I think about it, we’ve come a long way in our little food journey over the last few years. I’m telling you, I still surprise myself.

Do you remember the first few things you learnt to cook?

Relationships: It’s not all “what you see is what you get”

Yesterday Greg and I took some time to celebrate his post exam freedom and just reconnect. It was a much needed experience that required some selfies:

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Post exam drinking party!

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I was particularly intrigued by the amount of social media “traction” these pictures were getting. So many likes, from so many of our friends.

But no-one knows what really happened that day. How I had such an awful day. How we fought. Had a long crying conversation together. How I expressed my concerns that we’d become boring, and a little bit distant. How I was super vulnerable and weepy and the tears just wouldn’t stop streaming down my face, even once our discussion had concluded. (And listen, I’m really not “that” type of girl)

Because we don’t air our dirty laundry. Nobody knows these things. Our Social Media profiles are like our personal little “highlights” real. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I like to remember the good times and memories. Selfies are for the smiley moments, not the mopey ones. While a difficult discussion and a bit of a cry might shape me into thinking of something differently, I don’t need to remember the sadness.

It just got me thinking, and I found it very interesting regarding what we choose to show the world. I know I do it. I love posting happy pictures of Greg and I. Certain things are for Facebook, some for twitter, some for instagram, some for the blog, and some for a combination of the above. I’ve also come across so many articles in magazines about Social Media envy. You’ve never thought that there could be such a thing? Those feelings when you see someone just got engaged/married/had a baby/bought a house/got a new job? We all see these things.

But you just don’t know, do you. I guess you need to give people the benefit of the doubt. Everybody has their own struggles, and I know that if (as the old saying goes) we all threw them into a pile, and saw the problems of others – we’d very promptly pick our own ones back up, and be very thankful for them.

Some ladies bloggers on twitter the other day hosted #nofilterday and encouraged people to share pictures of themselves first thing in the morning before their coffee, without make up, or that pile of dishes that got left in the sink, the mess in their homes. A reminder that we’re not all perfect, despite what is “perceived” online (and sometimes even in person).

Greg and I are fun people individually, and also as a couple. We like to do fun things and take pictures while we’re out, as little reminders to ourselves. Even in person we are light-hearted, laugh at one another and joke around. But it’s not always like that. Our relationship isn’t perfect. It’s just that you don’t need to parade these things into internet-universe. It’s not about being “fake” or about censoring our lives (and relationship), it’s just that some things are personal and we like to keep them private.

We’re incredibly happy and in love and all that jazz. But we’re also real, we also fight, we also argue, we also cry. Sometimes we’re mean, we make sure to apologise, to acknowledge when we’re wrong and when to listen. And sometimes we get all of that really wrong. We’re not perfect, but I like us a lot.

Looking back: our wedding stationery

A friend asked me to send her some files we used at our wedding last year and it had me looking over that “WEDDING” folder on my desktop. While initially my heart stopped beating when I saw the many excel spreadsheets entitled “seating plan” or “guests” split between Lipman and Gelb, I then found all the fun stuff. See, I designed all the wedding stuff and stationery (I guess you call it that) myself. Partly to save money, partly I didn’t really know what I wanted, partly… I don’t know, I just did it myself.

I wasn’t blogging back then, so none of this stuff made it onto the internet and the only people who saw it all were the 180 guests who were invited. So because it’s Thursday, and people do that whole “throwback Thursday” stuff, and I just decided that’s a good enough reason to share all this wedding paraphernalia, well, here you are.

The funny thing is, I cannot for the life of me find the invite to our engagement party. Which is sort of where it all began. I kind of designed it on a whim, with colours I got in an idea off the internet. A couple months down the line – and it happened to be the same colour scheme that worked it’s way through. Don’t know where the red/black/white thing came from. Maybe because I wanted things easy for my bridesmaids, in black dresses (with a pop of red). Somewhere along the lines the colours of playing cards came into the picture (Greg is a magician, if you didn’t know). I don’t know. And only recently am I discovering how dire my love for red is. It can’t be this normal. I wish I had photos of the actual invites, thank yous etc, but well, I really suck at using a camera (maybe I’ll intagram and amend this post later) but for now, you can have a squizz at the original undisturbed files 😉

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I’ll be honest, I sorta love our Save the Dates, which we emailed out.

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Our invite was double sided and printed on a silvery paper (so imagine all the white bits to be sparkly. I wanted a modern typography based invite, Greg said the invite was “his” thing and it needed to be traditional and “look Jewish”. So I did what I could and really like the result. We still have at least 50 copies, anyone want one? (by the way, those sqiggles – are our names in Hebrew.)

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These were our table numbers, going through 1 – 18, each with a diffirent picture of Greg and I during the time we dated. These were displayed in picture frames which I spray painted silver. They became the perfect frames to give my bridesmaids as gifts with a picture of us inside.

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Instead of a guestbook…

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…we did those fill in the blank things. They’re displayed in a treasure chest type box in our lounge. Whenever we meet new friends we make them fill one in. For laughs of course.

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I love how we used photographs of us throughout our wedding stationery, so our thank you had to be the same. Our photos were so beautiful also, how could we not use them? I wish I knew where those chalkboards were though…

I loved our wedding ❤

But also incredibly happy the planning phases are behind me. Phew.

Update: 30 October 2013

I found the box which has all our wedding stuff in it last night while rearranging our living room. So I figured I’d show you the “real” copies. I think they look even better 🙂

A weekend by the sea would be a grand idea.

Going away for a weekend is really such a treat, a treat that unfortunately we haven’t been able to take advantage of in 1.5 years of marriage. You see, Shabbos just comes in too early on a Friday for us to get anywhere out of town to go away. Factor in Friday-post-work-traffic, needing to shower and setting up food on a hot-tray, and you’d understand why we haven’t been able to do this. Long weekends (that start on a Friday) are really such a blessing.

We weren’t going to go away at all over the Women’s Day weekend (right before my birthday) and a week or so after we decided not to – Greg drops the bomb that he’s found us a nice little place in Hermanus. It sounded perfect. Shabbos, sea, whale watching, bits of exploring – we’d actually never been away for Shabbos before, so that in and of itself was exciting. Imagine compulsory relaxing time by the sea?

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We left midday on Friday and arrived many hours later due to emergency roadworks. Either way we did some last minute shopping (like when you forget to bring bowls and spoons for your soup…) and a little exploring in the shops. There was the loveliest old school type bookshop. Tons of classics, tons of old books, so many bookshelf it seemed like a maze – I wish I’d taken photos, but I was a bit nervous of the little old man at the front desk. Eventually we got to our little rented apartment and it was so perfect. A great size for 2, sea facing, a braai and so tastefully decorated for a seaside home!

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We showered, the food was on the hot tray, we played rummikub and monopoly deal while we waited to eat dinner, we ate, I raved more about the wedding, we read (I finished The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which is a seriously beautiful book. Again, my genre of “books that get made into movies”.) and eventually crashed while reading and went to bed at the grand hour of 10pm (I lie, it could have been earlier.)

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Shabbos morning was the greatest ever. We woke up late, we lay in bed reading and napping and playing more games. Greg even spotted some whales while I was reading in bed, calling out “show off for me, baby” while he watched through his binoculars. I couldn’t help but giggle at this boy. Before lunch we took a walk down to the sea. I think it was one of my highlights of this little weekend. It was a complete break from life and the world. It was completely secluded and there was no distraction of cellphones or social media. Not even the temptation, as it’s kind of what we do every Saturday. It was utterly relaxing. It’s what I’m sure most people want from a getaway break, and go to remote locations without signal. We didn’t even need to try for that. It was like a super shabbos on steroids. I wish that everyone could experience such a break to really take the time and connect.

We sat on the balcony watching the sunset as we waited for Shabbos to come out. We braaied (always a luxury when you live in a flat), switched between watching Come Dine With Me, George of the Jungle and Footloose before reading, and bedtime. In the morning I woke up while the sun was still busy rising, and because we were up on the third floor, and level with the horizon I could still kind of watch the beautiful colours of the sunrise. I snuck out for a photo in the cold, and then got back in to bed and continued to watch the sun rise and the day begin with Greg from our bed. What a seriously special moment.

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On our way home we stopped at a lookout point, overlooking the sea, high up from the rocks. We picked a bench, looked out to the sea, and took plenty selfies (“I love taking photos like this, it reminds me of back when we were dating.” – Greg. I think this means we need to do it more often, fun things shouldn’t stop just because you’re married.). And we chatted of course, before we headed home. It was such a refreshing weekend and just the greatest time to just reconnect and absolutely hang out with my +1. If you’d like to stay at this little apartment we stayed at (we were in a 1 bedroom, but the owner has plenty bigger options) please get in touch with me so I can put you in touch.

Weekends away like this are things I hope we will be taking much more advantage of in the coming years. We might not be able to afford a big overseas trip quite yet, but these little trips will do. And hey, I kinda like exploring my backyard.

Cape Town, you beauty.

And what a lucky girl to have a guy like this to share it with.

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Here is to many more times of fun, exploring, enjoying each other’s company, and photo’s to document it all.

Wedding instagram roundup & Sheva Brachot!

It’s no secret that I had the greatest time at my friends’ wedding last week (and it wasn’t even due to all the wine on our table!). I took so many photos for the bride, a complete obsessor over photos. She took so many photos at our wedding that I could only return the favour (she even took my photos, edited all of them and uploaded them herself to Facebook. Which person wants that many notifications? Lisa of course.) I haven’t managed to take all the pictures off my phone, but here’s a roundup of the day via instagram (ok, I apologise that so many are of me and not just the bride):

So after the wedding was done, us Jews, well, we like to continue the celebrations. Under the chuppah, as a part of the wedding ceremony 7 blessings are recited (directly translated to Sheva Brachot) and in the 7 days after the wedding it is customary to host the bride and groom, people who weren’t at the wedding and their friends/family for a meal where Sheva Brachot are recited again (after “benching” or the Grace After Meals).

We hosted a small, relatively intimate affair for their closer friends and had a Holy Bagels theme. No, it’s not that Jewish bagels are any holier than others, it’s just the name of a bagel joint in Israel (where Greg and I frequently picked up a cheap meal when we were there in June). Our “Holy Bagel” theme quickly translated to “heart vomit” where bagels were being served. It was really such a hit, and I was particularly impressed with my decorating skills. It’s no pinterest party, but it served the purpose perfectly.

We played a game which we played at Sheva Brachot when friends hosted us after our wedding. It involves having the newly weds sitting back-to-back with 2 shoes in their hand, one of their own, and one of their partners. They then get asked a series of questions: who will be taking out the garbage? Who will be stealing the duvet? Who will be doing the cooking? And they silently answer holding up the appropriate shoe. If they’re right – we move on to the next question. If they’re wrong – we give them a marshmallow, which they aren’t allowed to swallow until the end of the game. Lets just say that hilarity ensued.

I can’t not show off the cupcakes I made for dessert. I dont usually get baking very right. I normally mess up on icing, especially. But these: chocolate cupcakes, hollowed out using my cupcake corer, filled with Israeli chocolate, covered with some chocolate/vanilla coffee flavoured icing and topped with fondant rounds and some fancy Hebrew writing.

Phew, what a roundup. Lastly, I can’t help but show off the beautiful photos taken by the talented photographer who shot the wedding, Warren Williams. He just put up photo’s from the wedding today, and I’m somewhat in love.

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How incredible?

I’m finding it incredibly difficult to come down from this wedding high – and I wasn’t even the one getting married! Keep an eye out for normal life: resuming soon. Sigh.

What a night, what a wedding!

If you know one thing about me, it should be how much I love weddings. Unfortunately, they just don’t come often enough, but I’m so lucky to have been a part of and celebrated the wedding on Tuesday of very dear and special friends of mine. Shlomi is from Israel, and Lisa recently moved there and they travelled back to South Africa to get married here with their friends and family. I even remember when I first met Shlomi, it was a Friday night and we met with Lisa and this boy on the way to Shul. “I think I have a boyfriend” she whispered to me. “Lisa – how do you think you have a boyfriend??” is how it all began. This was more than 2 years ago, and its been such a pleasure watching their relationship grow into so much love.

Lisa was such a beautiful bride, calm and so chilled. Shlomi looked so dashing in his suit. We started the morning at the guest house all the bridesmaids, parents and sisters all excited, all getting ready, all looking at Lisa look so darn beautiful.

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The ceremony was beautiful. I love Jewish wedding ceremonies, the drinking wine, the 7 blessings, breaking the glass. It was also special to be standing right near Greg, as he was one of the pole holders, and having a giggle remembering our own wedding in the same spot almost a year and a half ago. We hung around for family photos, and the photographer was very happy to keep letting me snap away this gorgeous couple and their families. Us bridesmaids also took the liberty to get some beautiful shots of ourselves (that means Greg and I also got quite happy with the camera. Selfies, anyone?) We then went down to the Hout Bay Harbour for photos, we may have stunk like fish and frozen our bums off, but we had so much fun taking more photos with the bride and groom.

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Guys, we danced the night away. I’ve only been to weddings that were either religous (ie all Jewish music, men & women dancing separately, crazy, crazy dancing all night) or secular (a quick, tame round of Jewish music, and some pretty chilled out dancing the rest of the night). This wedding had it all somehow! The crazy Jewish separate dancing, somehow there landed up crazy Jewish mixed dancing (oy vey, don’t tell the Rabbi!) and super fun “secular” dancing. I mean, you should have seen how all the girls who were at the bacheloretteran to the dancefloor when the Time Warp came on. They had a beautiful first dance, even though I always told Lisa I would laugh at her choice (this lovey Twilight song about love and a thousand years), and such a beautiful cake made by Bespoke Catering. Blue velvet cupcakes to match the theme? I think so!

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I’ve attended a handful of weddings in the last 2 years and each one has been so incredibly different (especially considering all of them, but 2, were at the same venue – Suikerbossie, where we actually got married). Weddings are such a funny thing I’ve found – you put so much input into choosing the perfect venue, the best music/band/DJ, your ideal dress, the perfect flowers and every little detail… but you just can’t predict the vibe.

I think it partly had to do with the photographer we worked with. Goodness, Warren Williams made the day fun for us. Super interactive, made us laugh, and the teaser photo we’ve already seen – what a winner! Greg and I have the most beautiful wedding photos, but we said if our photographer was half as interactive as he was, it would have been perfect. He took direction from a bride who we know is very particular about photos and he was just fantastic. I seriously would recommend him in a heartbeat! Here’s a teaser shot which he captioned: “A sneaky little pic of Shlomi and my absolutely awesome bridesmaids yesterday. Dynamite girls.”

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I’ve been to weddings where I’ve gone in keen for the night and had the greatest time dancing, I’ve been to weddings the most excited ever and had an ok time – there are just so many variables. For this wedding, I was so excited. I was more nervous/excited than the day of my own wedding. And guys, I kid you not when I say I had the greatest time. I think one of the biggest elements you can’t control – are the guests. They are the ones that make the vibe. No single element is more important than the other, everything will usually mesh together pretty well, but sometimes it’s just perfect symmetry.

My dearest Lisa & Shlomi, may your life together, this new future you’ve created be filled with as much love as surrounded you on Tuesday. May your love for each other only keep growing forever and ever.

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PS: There are plenty other photos, especially the beautiful ones on my phone, but I somehow couldn’t get those off. A lot have been put onto my instagram, so you can hop on over there to see some of the other lovely shots from that night.

In good company. For the rest of forever.

Sometimes it’s baffling to think how when you get married, you’ll be spending the rest of your life with someone (well, that’s the plan anyway). At shul yesterday (the synagogue) it was announced that a couple were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Pretty amazing, because how many people actually get to reach that these days? Between divorce rates, people getting married much later in life and the reality of mortality it’s quite an achievement.

This isn’t meant to be overly deep, but I really realised yesterday that I’m going to be in good company for a very long time. Now keep in mind that we’ve just come back from an overseas trip. That meant absolute hours spent flying together, travelling on buses, and walking the streets together – not always a pleasent experience in Israeli heat. Situations you can easily get very frustrated with each other (and it happened a few times) You know, on top of general living together.

Anyway so yesterday was Shabbos, obviously (that’s our Jewish Sabbath). During these 25 hrs starting Friday evening we can’t use electricity, drive and a large number of other related things. It might seems restrictive, but it’s a great time to connect and just chill. It’s like having compulsory chill time.

We went to shul (synagogue) in the morning, and that ended at around 11. We hung around with friends, eating and chatting. We decided we didn’t feel like going to the shiur (sermon) and were home by 12:30. In winter you see, shabbos starts early and also comes out early, but getting home at that time meant we still had another 6 hrs to go… And no cellphones, Facebook, twitter or series to occupy us. We chatted for like an hour and then had a nap… Ok, it was 3 o’clock. 3.5 hrs left… I started wondering whether we should maybe get out that night after spending so much time at home in each others space…

But we had one of the best shabbos afternoons we’ve had in a long, long time. Often we meet up in the day with friends, but yesterday it was just us. We got up and played our new monopoly deal (which I sucked at, and eventually won a game) and then went for a 1.5 hr walk before coming home to read while we waited for shabbos to come out.

It wasn’t worlds most exciting day filled with fun outings and activities. In fact, it was relatively low-key and it was really just the two of us. But moments like that, among the mundane reality that is sometimes life, it feels good to know that the person you chose will really keep you company for the rest of you life.