Winter just got better!

Last week at my daughter’s nursery, I bumped into one of the other mum’s who was wearing a STUNNING black winter coat. I have an eye for these things and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. I’d never spoken to her before (I’m not in the clique) but I worked up the courage to say, ‘My, my, where did you get that coat?? It’s gorgeous.’ She proceeded to tell me that it was from a store near where she lived and that she had bought the last one. Damn! Fortunately, she was a darling and told me the designer for good measure: Betty Barclay.

I tried really hard to get the image of the coat out of mind. But there was no way, I was hooked! The coat has a wet look to it, a quilted surface and a hood with faux fur. It was glorious (I’m still mesmerised!). Anyway, I started my quest for the coat using the trusting Google.com. I put in ‘Betty Barclay’ and it came up with several web links. Hmm…’I’ll click on this one.’ I thought to myself. Nope, no black wet look coat. The thing is I had never heard of Betty Barclay before this enchanting encounter so I wasn’t sure what to expect. There were a few online stockists but only one actually had the jacket. So, after what felt like hours (it was probably about 20 minutes actually), I stumbled onto TheHouseDesignerWear.co.uk. They had it!!! But wait… I just went from a size 10 to 12 in the last 6 months….They only have it in 10 and 16. Deflated.

Betty Barclay Wet look Faux fur jacket (The House Designer Wear, 2010)

Feeling courageous, I called the contact number on the web site. What a lovely customer service lady! Even though they didn’t have my size, she offered to call another store and call me back after checking for it. She even offered to put it on the website and call me immediately so that I can purchase it. Did I mention that this coat is £260? Extravagant, even for me. Anyway, the coat was completely sold out in size 12 as the nice customer service lady later informed me.

Then the next phase of my search started (thanks to Google again). I started to look for jackets that resembled the Betty Barclay one. I confess that I didn’t have to look far. I found one on asos.com before I could say ‘Black Wet look jacket with hood’! And there it sat, prettier and CHEAPER than I had imagined! Yay!! It was a £100 and looked like it was worth much more. Long live Asos.com :-). Even better, they had it in size 12 (it eased my irritation about gaining weight). The designer is Vero Moda. Alas, it was ‘Add to Cart’ – no questions asked. Excellent!

Front view of a beautiful jacket (Asos.com, 2010)

I got a real buzz from my search. Now I think I might enjoy looking for clothes that resemble big designer brands and buying them at a bargain. LOOK magazine is filled with such grand searches. Hmm, there may even be a small business opportunity. Steady now…. Anyway, it was all in a day’s work (well, a couple of days) and now I am fiercely looking forward to winter. Happy shopping for your winter jackets if you haven’t already done so (remember you can have more than one 😉 ). NEXT and Debenhams also have many great jackets of different styles. Tis the season to be merry……K’s got a new coat (doing silly “bubble n’ shuffle” dance from the 80s)…la-la-la-la-la-la… ;-).

Check out the back (Asos.com, 2010)

What will I be when I grow up?

‘If I wasn’t an engineer, what would I be?’ I found myself wondering the other day. Sometimes, I skim through job ads in the local papers and its amazing how many exciting professions there are out there. Growing up in an oil-rich country in Africa, there seemed to be just a handful of “profitable” occupations. They included engineering, banking and perhaps government! But as I have met people from all works of life, I have subconsciously taken stock of what other jobs may be out there for a gal like me. What jobs activate my “buzz” button? What else can I do if for some reason, engineering doesn’t continue to work out ? Let’s have a look at my top 5 things to be when I grow up (in no particular order):

1. Talk show host: Maybe an over-rated job but I love it, love Oprah! I’d probably interview people trying to make a difference in the world. This job will give me a real opportunity to brand myself. I would be no good at the Jerry Springer stuff (I lack the ability to keep a straight face).

2. Executive Secretary/PA: It uses my very best strength- organisation. I would love organising other people’s lives for a handsome fee! Also, the idea of being the right-hand person of a CEO or MD is very very attractive to an attention junkie like me 🙂

Keeping my boss on the straight and narrow, Awesome!

3. Make-up artist: About 3 years ago, I actually started to research schools for this. There were a handful of them in the London area but they cost an arm and a leg. I remember one particular one was about £4000 for a 3-week course!!! That amount of money could pay some kid’s waythrough university. But still, it is my fantasy to make-up models for the London or Milan fashion week. I can do wonders with some mascara and eye-shadow.

I can do wonders with make up

4. Motivational Speaker: Yeah, I know it’s similar to the talk show host but the main difference is that you have to motivate people. You can’t just say pointless things. I absolutely admire motivational speakers with favourites like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. It would be a gift to be able to motivate people with the words of my mouth. After buying a book on Amazon.com on the world’s greatest speeches, I started to think that I can practice everyday, with every word I say bringing people up not tearing them down. In progress…

speaker

Having to hold a mic for a living would be great!

5. Singer: Last but by no means the least. But I can’t really sing so this is a long shot. When I hear amazing singing, I am sometimes moved to tears as my skin becomes riddled with goosebumps. The absolute best moments I’ve had is sitting in the audience as someone sang their heart out, causing my eyes to well up. This may have to do for now- fair enough.

The next magazine

I started with the New Scientist  magazine as I had to feed the geek in me. New scientistIt was a great read and I subscribed to it for over a year. I was fascinated by the articles on new technology, strange discoveries about animals and humans. I remember reading one particular article about memory and how one woman of 91 could remember things that happened to her when she was 8. In contrast, there was a man of 60 odd years that had a disease so that he could not remember what happened 15 minutes ago….. Fascinating stuff. As I said, it fed the geek in me.

Then one day, I decided that I needed to be “in tune” with the latest fashion trends (geek turned diva, I guess). But I could not afford to subscribe to two magazines so in a moment of impulse, I cancelled New Scientist and took LOOK magazine onboard. The copies started flooding through my door. I swear they have an issue released every other day or something! I must admit here that my motives were not all noble. The LOOK magazine was giving away free bottles of Cacherel 100ml perfumes with a first subscription! Perfumes: another addiction of mine. Alas, I couldn’t stop myself even if I wanted to.Look magazine I got LOOK for almost 2 years until I couldn’t take it anymore- they just came too often! I still have issues from last year that are still in the transparent bag. At this point, I knew I was wasting money on a magazine (no doubt an awesome on with all the latest fashion and is responsible in no small part for my semi-decent wardrobe) so I tried to think with my head and not my wardrobe. Cancel magazine.

So now I’m twaddling my thumbs again- ‘Will it be Harvard Business Review or the Economist?’ as I try (again) to feed yet another (business) addiction, allbeit a more noble one. But don’t expect to see a halo on my head because I’m no angel:-).

I'm no angel

Maybe I’ll wait until The Economist is giving out free handbags or something with a subscription of the magazine… Hmmm, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Nah, that will probably never happen.

Spaghetti & Other Stories

It wasn’t the best week to have so I really looked forward to a nice dinner and a relaxing weekend. I got home to find that there was very little in the way of ideas to start dinner. Arrgh! It wasn’t ‘pizza night’ so I doubted that I would get away with that. Tuesday is pizza night. Anyway, off I went ramaging through my fridge and that’s when the sketelon of a very yummy meal began to form. It all started with (1) a bag of spaghetti.

Boiling spaghetti

Boiling spaghetti

I needed a whole bag because if my instincts where anything to go by, there was going to be plate- licking. I let the spag boil while  I continued my quest for the perfect ingredients. Then, in the fridge I found (2) yellow & green peppers (deserted from last weekend’s egg stew), (3) a ‘Nando marinate’ (HOT)….’Absolutely,’ I was thinking, ‘But I need a meat of some kind…’ Aha! There in the freezer was (4) Quorn Steak strips!

 

steak strips
My Quorn steak strips

Awesome! I could never figure what to use that for but it seemed like a good idea when I bought, especially with kids (and hubby) that LOVE meat. So, it was working well.  I put a touch of olive oil in a frying pan and stir-fried the steak strips as I poured in the Nando sauce. With the heat low, I chopped the peppers (5) and some onions into the steak strips. The spaghetti was then ready to be drained. I couldn’t believe that this meal was going to take me less than half an hour to knock together! And it looked divine.

I blended (6) some tomatoes and pepper to add to the spaghetti after I drained it and put it back on the heat. I added some salt, crayfish and garlic. And voila, I had a meal ready before my hubby was back from work!

What’s the big deal? Well, I had a rotten end to my week and when this happens, it gets me great confidence to make “something out of nothing” at home. When I feel like it’s not working out in whatever role I’m improvising during the week, it helps to be the greatest cook (daydream) or wife or mother.

I must say the meal WAS delicious and it helped put other dilemmas at bay for the evening. One victory for womanhood, I’d say.

Make me, Break me.

I said out loud to some friends yesterday that I had stopped caring about being very successful. Now before you rise an eyebrow, let me explain my definition of ‘successful’ before I made that comment yesterday.

Successful means being the best at everything I do. Having people know that I am really smart, witty and worthwhile to have around. It’s a strange definition for success, I know but that was what I thought. It is only recently that I’ve been able to nail down why I thought this way.

I was bullied growing up. It wasn’t physical, it was emotional. People would deliberately leave me out of conversations, games and just seemed to go out of their way to make me feel left out. I cried a lot and it affected my self-esteem. So one day when I was 16 and again at about 23, I made up my mind that I was going to be BLOODY successful by rising to the top of my profession very quickly. A secret plan ensued: I was going to be the best. I’d make them regret leaving me out! It’s amazing how these things follow one through life. I’m 31 now and I have the benefit of hindsight so I’m at an advantage. I got married early (like a good African girl), was desperate to have kids and did. But still I didn’t really count these as success.

Success

Measuring success (freedigitalphotos.net, 2010)

I continued to push myself to go where I didn’t really want to go, to be who I didn’t really want to be. I was in deep competition with…myself. Oh well. It’s a 15-yr habit but I think I can break it.

The sad thing is I realise that over time I started to leave people out as well (Actually, most people who bully in whatever form, were bullied themselves). A friend of mine once told me, “It’s hurting people hurting people”. If I didn’t understand someone or I didn’t like them, I’d leave them out.  I bring this up because I believe making ‘confessions’ go a long way to a solution (or betterment).

I want to measure success by peace of mind, a family that I love and loves me, a job that doesn’t rule over me and nurtured friendships. I don’t have to be the best at everything I do (what a relief!). It will take a while to sink in but with this open confession, I have no choice. It’s funny that the same experiences that made me who I am, have the potential to break me to pieces. Thankfully,  I no more have anything to prove.

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