Something Old into Something New

Something Old into Something New

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Who doesn’t love a bargain! One of my favorite pastimes in New York was to comb the vintage and second hand stores for a great find! It was always so fulfilling to find a great deal on a vintage bag! There were a couple right by our neighborhood so it was always a breeze to pop in.

I haven’t quite found the same in Joburg but I have discovered a hidden gem, New To You, in Bryanston. They sell new and second hand furniture and there’s always something you need! To say I was here once a week when I first discovered it would be an understatement! Lol My best friend and I would find some excuse to stop by and fortunately/unfortunately we would always find something we had to have. Coming from a NYC apartment, we just didn’t have enough furniture to fill a house. New to You helped furnished our new homes. Most people don’t know that our pieces are second hand!

There’s something for everyone and Tracey, the owner, is great. She could not be any easier to deal with. If you find something you like and it doesn’t fit in your car, she organizes delivery as soon as the next day! It made shopping for furniture less stressful and also instant gratification…no wait time! This became our quick fix as we don’t shop much here in Joburg but this certainly, satisfied our shopping needs! And I know many of you can relate…when you get that itch to just buy something! Another great thing is that prices are so good that you still had money to get pieces reupholstered if the color or fabric didn’t suit your needs. Tracey doesn’t house anything that isn’t up to par. Plus the quality of her pieces are better than what you get in stores these days! Sometimes older is better! You can find everything from headboards, coffee tables, desks, ottomans, sofas, pillows, nickknacks to furnish your home. Definitely worth a drive by if you’re in the area. You can also shop on their website but going in and browsing is half the fun!

Where: New to You

Address: 2 Brian Str, cnr Peter Place, Bryanston (1 block below Sandton Clinic)

Hours: Thurs & Fri: 9am – 4pm, Saturday: 9am – 1pm

Website: newtoyou.co.za

 

Wass up! 

Wass up! 

 

There are some things that will always brighten up my day and that’s skin products that smell absolutely divine! I also love supporting locally made products.

Wass is a 100% natural and organic range of products made in Cape Town. I discovered her recently at Kamers and have been using her products ever since! We have already gone through two body balms and we’re almost done with the bath salts. I started using the bath salts for my kids when they went through their bouts of flu. It helped to clear their sinuses and was a great way to calm them down before bed time. They even slept better!

As you can see, I bought the whole range. Her products are categorized by seasons. I love all of them for different reasons. But right now, my favs are autumn and fall. I also love the travel size roll ons which she calls temple oils. She has one for day, night and travel. I love putting them on throughout the day.

These products are kid approved. It may seem excessive to use such lavish products on them but after they were born, I realized they both had very sensitive skin and was allergic to many chemicals in the heavily scented baby products. I became more conscious of the products I used on them and therefore, our family now uses a lot of organic and natural skin products. Our skin is happy and it helps that everything smells so darn good. My kids even request the bath salts and our daughter loves the body balms! LOL So for us, this is a no brainer…I will be replenishing our stock right after this post!

Where to buy: Unfortunately, no one stocks Wass in Joburg. She sells at a couple stores in Cape Town. You have to head to her website, Wass. The bath salts and her scrub are not listed on the website but I’m sure you can drop her an email to order them…definitely a bath must for the cold winter!

Marataba

Marataba

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One of the advantages of living in Africa is going on safaris. The kids simply love it and now that they are older it’s easier to manage the early morning wake up calls! We discovered Marataba Safari Lodge when Brian bidded on a school auction and won. It’s only a 4 hour drive from Joburg so the road trip is manageable. It’s located near Waterberg at the Marakele Park, Thabazimbi. For those concerned, it is malaria free. So a quick weekend getaway is definitely possible. We were surprised that many of our SA friends have never heard of it but I guess it’s mainly a lodge that caters to tourists.

We can’t say enough great things about them. The service, accommodations, food, and drives were all exceptional. Our guide, Andre, was amazing and the kids absolutely loved him. He was so knowledgeable and the kids asked him a million questions. They love animals and it probably helps that Wild Kratts is their favorite show. They are walking animal dictionaries. You can ask Becket almost anything and he knows and when you ask him how he knows…he says the Wild Kratts! LOL They even had afternoon activities for the kids so the adults can relax. The landscape is one of the most beautiful that we have seen as they have water and mountains. It’s rare to find this combination. There’s something about getting back to nature. It’s magical. It also helps that you sleep like a baby….we think it’s the air!

Marataba was so magnificent that we went back again in April when my parents came to visit. So this one is a keeper. If you’re adventurous and don’t plan on taking the kids, they have a brand new eco lodge, Marataba Trails Lodge, that caters solely to walking safaris. Definitely something Brian and I plan to do….one day!

Changes…

Changes…

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It’s been more than 7 years since I’ve posted and so much has happened within that time. I’ve gotten married, had two kids, quit my job and moved to South Africa. So where to start…

Home

There really is no where like “home” and I miss it terribly. It’s been three and a half years and for three of those years, I have felt displaced. Having never known anywhere but New York and New Jersey as home, it’s been really hard to be away from the city I know best. I miss our East Village loft and the convenience of being able to walk out the door and just go anywhere. Never having much of a plan but always finding something interesting to do or interesting to see. I miss the abundance of different foods…anything you want at anytime of the day. If I felt like an everything bagel toasted, scooped out, with sausage, egg and cheese and a large ice coffee, it was down the street. A plate of sushi, ramen, and dumplings for lunch, that was also just a few blocks over. I miss it all…the people watching, the new stores to explore, the subway, the buses, the taxis…the chaos of it all. I miss the four seasons…spring, summer, fall and winter. I miss snow!

Yet, our kids (Finley and Becket) really know nothing else but South Africa as home. When we arrived Becket was just about to turn two and Finley was three. How could they possibly remember the city life? Shockingly though, Finley does remember and Becket lives vicrariously through her. It’s really sweet but they love it here…our house, their schools, their friends and therefore, I can finally say South Africa is now “home”.

Family

My family means the world to me and not having them here has been hard. I miss their support. I miss their faces. It’s hard to be on the group family text and seeing pics of my parents with my siblings and their families. They go to lunch, dinner, recitals, shows, museums, parks, etc…and we are here.  The kids have asked why can’t we live in NY so we can see our cousins but what they don’t realize is that what they are seeing is not everyday…it’s just that occasional outing. Sure at this point in life, everyone has their own agenda and lives but our family makes time for each other. It’s special. It’s rare. I always thought the cousins would grow up together but now Finley and Becket get to see their cousins twice a year. It doesn’t seem alot but to them, it’s become highlights in their lives. They look foward to it everytime. They reminensce about every detail from the summer or winter before and when they all see each other, it’s like we never left. I guess it’s true when they say family is just family. It’s amazing to see how the cousins just know that something is different. It’s an inate comfort. It’s natural. It’s family.

Friends

I miss my old friends. I miss our talks, our breakfasts, lunches, dinners, playdates, runs, vacations, all of it.  Now if I’m lucky I get to see them once a year. Yet like our kids and their cousins….we always pick up exactly where we left off. It doesn’t make it easier though…

If it wasn’t for the amazing friends I have met since arriving Joburg, I would be devastated. They have made the transition easier, life easier and slowly they are becoming family.

Body

No one ever tells you that after kids…your body just goes to shit! During my younger years, I solely relied on the fact that I had a fast metabolism even though I didn’t know I had it. You name it and I ate it! LOL Now for the past 5 years, I have been struggling to go back to my “ideal” weight. A weight I feel comfortable with, that last 10 lbs I need or want to lose. It’s social media that contributes to our insecurities and just like most women, I’m a victim. I know I shouldn’t look. I know I shouldn’t compare but I do. Trust me, I have done it all to see what could possibly be wrong….why can’t I lose the weight?!  I have gone to my GP to see if I’m going through early menopause or have thyroid problems but nope I’m as healthy as can be. I went to a dietician to see if I have any allergies…none to serious to mention. So it all comes down to exercise and what I’m eating. I don’t want to say diet as I’m allergic to the word. I hear diet and I want to eat chips, chocolate, pizza, popcorn, etc. They don’t work for me. So slowly…….very slowly, I am trying to eat healthy. I need to. Our kids are young and they need me. When I look it that way, I can do this and hopefully, the weight will just melt off! LOL Oh and I forgot to mention, those darn stretch marks…but I can have surgery for that right? Just kidding!

Mind

So I have saved the best for last. It has taken me three and a half years for me to be able to finally say….I am HAPPY!

I am happy being a full time mom. This sentence has taken me five years to write. Growing up, my mom emphasized independence. Being Chinese, you know that means she drilled this mentality into me. That I shouldn’t rely on any man. That I should be able to do it all on my own. I needed to graduate college, get a job, make my own money. She did this because she never finished school. She married young. She was a young mother. So I got it and I tried my damnest to make her proud.  I am proud to say that I did work hard. I enjoyed my various jobs and after 10 years in the workforce, I finally made a six figure income. I lived in the city. I paid rent. I paid for my metrocards, the gym, the dinners, the take outs, the bags, the boots, the leather jackets, the debt…all of it. So when you’re not working, not making your own money, not going out, not socializing, not buying and transported to a different country where you know no one…..it’s hard! You literally start with nothing, a clean slate. It’s not just the money but the mind. Your mind becomes blank. You’re a mom. You’re driven by routine. You’re against the clock. You’re in the car. You’re making lists. You’re making lunch. You’re making dinner. You’re making sure they have the right gear for the next day. What’s happening at school? When’s the next playdate? And while this is all happening….I am finally okay that I’m basically a single parent during the week. My husband travels….ALOT. I don’t say this maliciously, it’s just a fact… I can’t say I was always okay with it though but now I truly am. During the school week, it’s actually easier for me. Things get done on time and there are no distractions. The kids go to sleep on time and I have my time. Everything is on schedule = Happy Mom.

Their life becomes your life.

I had to go to a psychologist to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. I had to know that I was normal. I felt lonely. I felt useless. I felt incomplete. I felt lost. I felt nothing. I was sad. I was angry. I was melancholy. I was depressed.

In my mind, I felt I needed to do more. I wanted a job. I wanted to find balance. I wanted my own life apart from the kids. I didn’t just want to be a MOM.

Fast forward to today….I am just fine being a “MOM”.

Maybe it was the affirmation that I got from the psychologist. That I was normal. That I didn’t need meds. That I wasn’t going crazy. Maybe it’s because I know that South Africa is now home. That our kids are flourishing. I have friends. They have friends. We go back to the states twice a year. That for the first time in my life, I love cooking. I’m not a gourmet chef but I enjoy looking for recipes. I like sharing them. I like meal prepping. I love the new glass containers that make my fridge look clean! LOL I like working out?!?! Okay maybe that’s going to far!

Or it could just be life happening and me, finally realizing that if I worry about all the crap I can’t control I will miss out!

MY JOURNEY + THEIR JOURNEY  = OUR JOURNEY

Love, Me

 

I Love NY Pizza

 

Something the whole family really misses is NYC pizza! Our absolute fav is Joe’s Pizza in the West Village. So you could imagine our surprise when we were driving around Cape Town and saw a sign that said ” I Love NY Pizza“! We had to give it a try and it was perfect timing as the kids were starving and nothing else was open on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm!

side note: That’s another thing we miss about NYC…the convenience of having everything at our fingertips at all hours of the day.

Back to the pizza though…walking into the pizza joint it felt just like a pizza shop in NYC. There are no tables just counter space. The pizza slices were large, different types of slices displayed and a selection of beverages. I ordered 4 slices, one for each of us: two plain and two pepperoni. Got back to the car and the kids squealed with delight! Everyone devoured their slices. I’m the slow eater in the family and I could feel Brian eyeing the rest of my pepperoni slice…the nice wife I am, I gave it to him! LOL

place: I Love NY Pizza

where: 51 Kloof Street, Cape Town

my take: must have if you’re craving pizza while in Cape Town

 

Pure Comfort

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I was skeptical when I first heard that Krispy Kreme was coming to Joburg. My initial thought was it won’t be the same. Yet as I walked into Rosebank Mall towards Krispy Kreme, I could already smell the deliciousness of the donuts cooking! The scent was exactly how I remembered. They are pure bliss once they touch your lips…it’s melt in your mouth goodness! It’s a crowd pleaser all around for the old, young, and even those who claim they don’t like sweets. Their classic is the original glazed donut but if that’s too plain for you they have a dozen more flavors you can choose from. My favorite is the cinnamon glazed.

place: Krispy Kreme

where: The Zone @ Rosebank

my take: pick up a dozen for that next playdate, you will be everyone’s favorite

 

The Grind Cone

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One of the things I miss most about NYC are the ice coffees! Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…a good ice coffee hits the spot. I have yet to find the perfect ice coffee but the grindcone at The Grind Coffee Company at Melrose Arch is a close second!

The grindcone is an espresso/macchiato poured into an ice cream cone that has been dipped in dark chocolate. It’s filled just enough at the bottom with dark chocolate so that the coffee doesn’t ooze out. Ingenious!!! Coffee and dessert all in one…simply divine!

place: The Grind Coffee Company

where: 34 Whiteley Road, Melrose Arch

my take: if you need a pick me up, the grindcone is it!