Food!! Glorious Food!!

On Saturday morning, I set off for my favourite Pick n Pay store on William Nicol, to take advantage of an invitation from Fresh Living for a Fresh Living Reader Event!

I had to giggle during the introduction to the event when the audience was told there were “bloggers” in attendance. I always wonder what people think when they hear that… are they looking out the corners of their eyes for the cliché, pasty-faced, dressed all in black, never-see-the-sunlight, monitor tanned weirdos? I wonder if they realise that the row of people who are almost constantly head down and typing furiously on their phones or tablets during presentations are actually expected to do so, and aren’t just being rude… 🙂 ?! And I am always amazed that a group of people who spend so much time on their cameras, phones and tablets at events like this one, can have quite so much fun! We had the people around us in stitches at our antics and I went home in a very good mood indeed.

Joining me at Pick n Pay’s Good Food Studio was @KerryHaggard@gnat_j and @badtennis_, and I met @nomnom_cupcake too! We had so much fun! The presentations from Fresh Living’s chefs were fabulous to watch and learn from! I got some awesome tips for when next I feel adventurous in the kitchen, and they always make it look so easy! So what did we eat? The starter was quince and blue cheese phyllo parcels with a divine avo and baby marrow salad, then the mains was a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with salsa verde and lemon and parmesan risotto, and then we had chocolate truffles and lemon tart for dessert! This was after the Simonsberg cheese platter and a wine tasting! I couldn’t finish my food! ME!!! I was flabbergasted!! And let me tell you… I didn’t eat again until around 10am Sunday morning!

Very Exciting!

One of these days I’m going to get my grubby little paws on a brand new Windows Phone 7 phone from Microsoft South Africa!

I am going to be playing with this phone for one week- which is going to be interesting since its a touch screen Samsung Omnia smartphone and I am an out and out BB slut- and I will be Tweeting about it using the hashtag #WP7Experience and then blogging about it before give it away to one lucky reader!

I’m going to be posting regular tips and tricks right here on my blog for the next few months so once the winner has the phone in their hands they can come back here to gain an advantage in using the phone.

So keep your eyes open bunnies, I will be announcing the competition late next week. In the meantime, head over to www.windowsphone7.co.za and read up on it a bit because the competition will encompass a little something about the phone itself *hint hint*…

Don’t you just LOVE social media!!?!?

…come play on my roller coaster…

The Amazing Race – Ford Figo Style!

Tuesday dawned crisp and cold when the cow and I were already well on our way to O R Tambo International- the instructions we had said to head for the Woolworths and find the Ford representative.
We knew we needed an overnight bag, that we would be driving the new Ford Figo, that we would be flying somewhere at some point during the day and that we would be home about 24 hours later.
And that was all we knew! Where we were going and how we were going to get there was a mystery! This was the first leg of The Amazing Race – Ford Figo Style!

🙂

Once we met the rest of our competitors and Mr Figo (as we dubbed him) outside the Woollies at OR Tambo, we immediately set off for the Gautrain where we were issued with blue envelopes containing cash for each of us to buy a one-way gold card ticket to Sandton. The Gautrain is fabulous, I’m a big fan and it was Anelle’s first time! Of course the Gautrain got us to Sandton very quickly and we then made our way to the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel where we were met by Ford execs and issued with lanyard name tags. Over a buffet breakfast we were told what the point of the race was and what the rules were, before Nokia did a presentation and issued us with Nokia goodie bags! You know how I love a goodie bag, bunnies! The bags contained either a Nokia C7 or a Nokia N8 and a whole lot of attachments to make their easier for us- Bluetooth earpieces, a Bluetooth speaker for the car, a plastic phone case and a bracket to mount the phone on the dash!

Awesome!

The Twitter hashtag for the rally is #FordFigoRally (the race ends this Friday) and Anelle and I quickly tagged ourselves #TeamCupcakeCow after christening the Nokia C7 we were given as “CupcakeCow”. Another pair of drivers called themselves #TeamJustCurious! There were a lot of Twitter users on this first leg and it made for some entertaining tweets with none of us wanting to give away any clues! And I got to meet some truly awesome people! The twits I was racing with- @Anelle472 (my team mate), @I_envyLepito33, @FHMSouthAfrica, @PulpOnline, @MaBlerh, @JustCuriousZA, @denphat and @JUCYAfrica!

So Anelle was the navigator for the day so she very quickly got down to working out how the Nokia worked. This was a challenge since we’re both out-an-out BB sluts! We also are self-confessed social media sluts which proved to be an entertaining idea for some people. Had I known I was going to be interviewed on camera I woulda put some make up on and lost about 15kg… hells bells!

Anyhoodle, after signing forms saying we’d be responsible for any fines or damage incurred we were given our car keys and our first clue! In the basement parking lot of the Radisson we found car #1, a Ford Figo 1.4TDCi Ambiente!

We really battled with the map feature on the C7 and ended up phoning Anelle’s hubby and giving him the coordinates so he could tell us where we were supposed to go! The first clue took us to a Ford dealership on William Nicol where we had to do a 10 point safety check before we were given our next clue, and Anelle tried to have a cigarette before I drove away from her!

🙂

From there we headed for WITS where we had to photograph someone from the Figo’s target market standing next to our car, and finding a student was a mission ‘coz they were all in a hurry to get back to class! Who knew students were so diligent!

😛

Then it was off to another Ford dealership near Eastgate mall- after a forked up detour via Marlboro road thanx to the bloody C7 map- where we had to answer questions aout the Figo before we were given our next clue and a Garmin GPS! I was very relieved to hear we weren’t the only team battling with the Nokia’s GPS function!

From there we set off for Harrismith and encountered our second traffic jam of the day on the N3 trying to get out of Joburg! Little did we know this would be a trend for TeamCupcakeCow for the day…

🙁

On arrival in Harrismith we were given the task of measuring the capacity of the window washer bottle using a measuring jug, a pipe and a syringe… blow that for a bag of marbles! Anelle had read the car’s manual on the trip down and she knew it was 2.5L! No soapy mouthwash for us, thank goodness!

Then we were given our detour, which was to find a monument that someone had built to his heroic son. Whilst Anelle fought with the C7 maps, I Googled it and found a link to van Reenen’s Pass’s “Littlest Church”! The knucklehead and I had stopped there once before on our road trip so finding it would be no problem for me! Off we go just before 4pm, only to get held up for just under an hour in another bloody traffic jam! A truck had lost its load and they closed the highway to clear it up! Urgh! We took pictures and chatted and looked at the scenery and Anelle made the most of the opportunity to have a relaxed cigarette! We finally got moving and took a picture of car #1 in front of The Littlest Church as we had to do so we could MMS the picture and get our next set of coordinates. Then we were off to a Ford dealership in Maritzburg and we were pretty sure we were last by this stage, considering the time wed spent on waiting on the N3…

🙁

On the way there we were looking at Twitter and the other teams were showing their fuel usage- our was on 519km completed and 290km left in the tank! Phenomenal!

Once in Maritzburg we were given a killer mathematical brain teaser to complete before we could get our next clue and I wanted to die! I got given boobs people! I did not get given a maths brain! Thank goodness they took pity on us because it was late and gave us most of the answers! Another team had been given the GPS from hell, whom they named “Regina” and opted to follow us to our next stop, which turned out to be a Ford dealership in Ballito! There we were stuffing our faces with some hot snacky things because we hadn’t eaten all day and someone asked if we had eaten all our car snacks!!?! There was a little cooler bag in the boot filled with water, snacks, cooldrink and sweets and we hadn’t found it!

Major facepalm moment people!

We then had loads of photos taken before heading for a garage in Ballito to refill our sealed fuel tanks for the next competitors, and were then sent to the Caledon Hotel and Spa for our overnight stop and some proper grub.

Team Cupcake Cow came 4th overall with a fuel economy rate of 5.2kmL/100km (certainly not aided by spending 30 minutes in 2nd gear early in the race), and whilst everyone was made to drink a shot of some kind as a forfeit- like the guy from Ford who came up with the math quiz- Anelle and I incurred absolutely no penalties on the race which we are very proud of- and had to do a shot as a penalty instead!

😀

Anelle and I are both more than impressed with the Ford Figo! It’s comfortable, it accelerates easily, it has fantastic fuel economy and it goes like a bomb! It handles much better than I expected such a lightweight car to do too! Naturally it’s noisier than a petrol engine, but it certainly doesn’t sound like a tractor- not by a long shot!

On Wednesday morning we were shattered when we were flown back to Johannesburg from King Shaka Airport the next morning, and we had the time of our lives! This little roadtrip was a wonderful treat for a couple of petrol heads like Anelle and I!

Thank you Ford, Nokia and Ogilvy for a phenomenal 24 hours!

You might also want to read FIGO’S AMAZING RALLY by JUCY and Sabotaged At The Ford Figo Rally by just CURIOUS

Southern Sun Chefs of Distinction

Last night, my Glugster and I were lucky enough to be invited to attend the 10th Chefs of Distinction evening at Southern Sun Montecasino’s Punchinello’s restaurant with our dear friends, the fabulous Shebee and Jon for company! And we were given gawjiss Carrol Boyes wine bottle stoppers as gifts as well! Thank you very much Southern Sun! We were invited in order to enjoy the evening as well as to tweet and blog about it so we were the only people not frowned at disapprovingly as we spent a large part of the evening on our Blackberries, iPhones and iPad- and taking pictures of course! It was dinner, social media style! 😀

Billy Gallagher was our host for the dinner, and he is a master of ceremonies par excellence! He introduced us to the featured chef for the evening- Chef Hilton Little- who was cooking with Punchinello’s Chef Gerard Vingerling. Hilton has cooked for a whole host of celebrities and politicians. The starter was served to George Bush, and the main course is one of Madiba’s favourites! The wines accompanying each course last night were selected from the Delaire Wine Estate.

This was our menu for the evening, and you may need a bib to catch the drool:

Starter

Fillet of sole and salmon wrapped in a delicate herb and saffron pancake accompanied by a feta and spinach quiche drizzled with a mild curry sauce

~Delaire Coastal Cuvee 2010~

Entree

Chicken and blue cheese quenelle nestled on a bed of fine noodles

~Delaire Chardonnay 2010~

Main Course

Tender loin of lamb dressed with a garlic and rosemary crust served with a rich green bean stew

~Delaire Botmaskop 2008~

Dessert

Traditional malva pudding

~Delaire NLH 2008~

It was a really cool evening, and the restaurant is set up in such a way that you can see into the kitchen! Its like being inside a Food Network TV show! The food was incredible, and I actually enjoyed the white wine that was served with the starter and I usually like a red wine!

Southern Sun is on Facebook and on Twitter as @SouthernSunChat.

…come play on my roller coaster

Do We Feel Too Much…?

Occasionally, I wonder if having an active social life- one which includes real life friends and family, blogging and bloggers, Facebook, Twitter, forums and all the others- is entirely healthy.

Before you drag me out and pelt me to death with your smartphones, hear me out.

I know I personally bounce from one emotion to another a lot more often in a day than someone who doesn’t use any form of social media! Let’s say for example I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Five years ago I probably would have stayed in that mood all day. Now, I check in on Twitter and Facebook and I read some blog posts, and within the space of an hour I have laughed at jokes, commiserated with someone’s loss, felt heartache, disappointment, excitement, irritation, marvelled at a miracle, got annoyed with shocking spelling and grammar, gone back to feeling a little down (and posting about it somewhere), and then feeling better because I got it off my chest and a whole lot of people told me they think I’m awesome.

With a “normal” social circle in the days before Twitter-blogging-forums-Facebook et-al, your close friends would be a handful of people, and if you were lucky you could include your family. These would be the ones with whom you shared various aspects of your life, to varying degrees. These were the friends you invited to birthday parties and special celebrations. These friends were the ones you called if you had news you had to share.

Announcements of things like engagements, pregnancies, birth, death, divorce and the like didn’t happen every day, and if something big happened- someone having a baby, a couple splitting up, the loss of a parent or someone losing a child- you had ample time to process it emotionally before the next proclamation, in theory of course. And these announcements could be shared personally and intimately. You didn’t have to include a disclaimer when you spoke to someone to please not post it on any social media spaces until you’d had a chance to share your news yourself. There was no chance of finding out someone you loved had died, via a Facebook update.

And on the other side of the coin, you also had no idea just how much you were actually not included in or not invited to.

And I’m speaking here as an adult and to adults. The effect of social media on children and teens is a whole ‘nother kettle of bananas.

With my social circle now HUGELY expanded since I fell into the internet I still have the friends I had before- and I have many many more friends. Not just friends in terms of reading their blogs and their Twitter feeds and getting to know them that way. I’m talking about real friends in terms of knowing them outside of my computer. And a lot of these new friends I would never have had the opportunity to meet in real life and I think that’s fantastic. I now have people I count as real friends from different countries, different race groups and different cultures and without the internet I would never have known them.

In the days before smartphones, no one would have known I’d woken up on the wrong side of the bed. No one would have known just how many times I butt heads with my knucklehead or how many cupcakes I bake. No one would have known just how wonderful my husband is. Losing my Taxi cat recently is a good example. I would have texted my mom and my sisters, and they would have been sad with me, but even if I had told more of my real life friends than I did, few of them “got” how sad I was and how much I miss him.

Now thanks to blogging and social media I can put something on Twitter or Facebook about how I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and not only will I get 10 messages back in commiseration, I will get 20 from people who are jealous that I slept that late, 7 from people still in their beds, and 2 from people who don’t have beds.

I know that social media in all its forms keeps me very firmly grounded and very aware of just how blessed I am. I love how social media allows me to be the centre of attention sometimes. I have become far more aware of real life issues and causes than I used to be. To my mind, social media has done more to break down the invisible barriers between races and cultures than politics will ever do.

It is awesome.

It is powerful.

It can empower you and make you feel like you actually have a voice on this overcrowded planet.

But I also believe that emotional overload is one of the main reasons people take extended “leave” of blogging, Facebook or Twitter, before they feel they’ll have to take leave of their senses!

…come play on my roller coaster