diy: guestbook (expat necessities)

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Like expats everywhere we are lucky to get many visitors- our house is like a hotel with friends and family coming and going constantly, complete with busy seasons and once in a while double (or triple!) bookings. Sometimes it makes us sad to be far away but the adventures had with visitors more than makes up for it. I’ve been meaning to make a guest book to keep track of it all for years and I finally got around to it last week.

To make up for all the friends who came pre-book and didn’t get to write a note, we went back through P’s Google calendar and wrote a list of all the people who have visited us through the years. Going through the calendar was the best part of this project, we got to re-live memories like when we went to India for the holidays, met friends in London the next weekend, Minneapolis the weekend after that for a wedding, and then two weeks later a girl’s trip to Turkey. Living in Berlin was a wannabe jet setter’s dream. Also, I am a new evangelist for Google Calendars because without P’s use of it there is no easy way we would have been able to recall all of our past guests.

Materials:

1 blank book (there are lots of blank scrapbooking type books but scrapbooking makes me barfy-faced, so I found this at my favorite stationer’s)
alphabet stamps, ink
wax seal, sealing wax, candle
guestbook pen (optional)

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got my safari on. again.

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What kind of expat would I be if I lived in South Africa and didn’t safari as much as possible? A sad one. And what is Land of Nams without a good dose of wildlife photography? Being close to wild animals never gets old. (Okay, it got a little old- since P is now officially a birder. He has a book and everything. A thiiick book.)

We went to Madikwe Game Reserve with my sister and Brian & Kari, lovely friends who were visiting us from Boston. We saw a pack of wild dogs on their morning hunt. Wild dogs are endangered species. And a first! I saw my first wild cheetahs. I don’t have a lot of apex predator firsts anymore and so that was wonderful. Also terrifying wonderful- being in the middle of a pride of 15 lions while they roared away. At night. Observe:

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a weekend in the country.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

We spent the weekend in the South African countryside with friends…these weekends usually consist of renting a giant house, eating lots of food, and drinking lots of wine. The scenery in South Africa is casually breathtaking wherever you go (except inside malls and all of Fourways in Johannesburg), and it’s a privilege to live here and enjoy it with friends. Our friends’ ‘puppy’ (a pony sized Rhodesian Ridgeback) has me jones-ing for a puppy of our own. I think P is right that life is too full of travel to be tied down with a dog at the moment. But if a cute one showed up on our doorstep I wouldn’t turn it away.

My Photoshop print series will be back tomorrow…

A weekend away in Kwa-Zulu Natal

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Thanks to Freedom Day and Worker’s Day and Generous Bridge Day From Work we had a 5 day weekend, so we headed to the Midlands in KZN with friends. The weekend was full of boating, beering, eating (fresh, made-from-scratch pelmeni! aloo gobi! potjies! to name a few), and game playing. Seriously, there was a game of musical chairs after dinner one night and it’s hard to get more fun than that. It’s fall and in KZN it seemed exactly like a New England fall, with leaves changing brilliantly on the trees. Life is exceedingly difficult in South Africa.

Fashion Friday: traveling

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
When we lived in Berlin I used to dread the 10 hour flight to the States. That was child’s play compared to the schlep from South Africa. Today’s Fashion Friday is all about how to get through your excessively long flight. BTW I’m not wearing that green dress on a plane, it’s just one of the options I bought for a fancy wedding we are attending back in NY. What do you think…keep or return?
The key to surviving a long flight is a) bringing moisturizer and b) not wearing a sweatsuit or worse, a velour track suit. If you must bring pajamas, change into them on the plane. You’re traveling across the world and we have to look at you. I’m not asking you to wear god damn heels, but leggings are just as comfortable as sweats and not as ugly. What are you, 14? This is an airplane, not your living room. Don’t be that person.
First things first, leggings. They’re comfortable like pajamas, but acceptable for public consumption. Also my black riding boots, because they’re a half size too big and your feet are going to swell after 24 hours and no one wants to stuff them into something tight. I wear a comfortable shirt like a Jcrew tank or grey t shirt and throw my blazer on top. Party while you’re sitting, business while you’re walking through the airport. Then a beautiful, roomy bag that can fit all of your traveling plane stuff. And put some extra undies in there in case your flight gets delayed overnight in Paris. Though now that my camera is the love of my life, I might be stuffing my extra undies into my camera bag instead.
The other important things that will make your flight bearable: 1. Facial moisturizer. I use Clinique Comfort on Call, and reapply a lot. Great for those living in the tundra of northern Europe, the American Midwest or down in dry, hot, Africa. 2. Noise canceling head phones. P bought some fancy Bose ones for me back when we were in a trans-atlantic relationship and they are a life saver. 3. Your iPad. More lightweight than your laptop. Be sure to charge it and load it up with a bunch of New Yorkers and perhaps a book if you’re a non-book book person. 4. A book. As soon as I get to the States I’m buying Katherine Boo’s new book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, about a slum in Mumbai. Till then I’m reading some Naipaul. 5. A sleeping mask. Because some idiot always keeps his window shade up after dinner, no matter how many times the flight attendants asks him to shut it. AFTER DINNER ON AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT IS DARK TIME, THOSE ARE THE RULES GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD. 6. A good neck pillow. 7. Also, I rarely check a bag. Even for a trip for 3 weeks. The only time I usually check a bag is when I’m moving to a new country. Your stuff will never get lost.

Black boyfriend blazer, $130
Black leggings, £14
Gucci black leather boots, £810
Alexander Wang leather shoulder bag, £660
Bose Ae2i Audio Headphones, $180
Clinique Comfort On Call Intensive Cream, $50
Contrarian Babs Bibb Dress, $425

Lastly, I’m taking a blog vacation next week so I can enjoy time with family and friends for the first week of my trip! I’ll be back online Monday February 27th! And I’ll update my project 365 sometime this weekend, I have a two week backlog.

So wrong, it has to be right: Jozi’s answer to Berlin’s Doener Kebap?

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

While I like to consider myself somebody who eats right and cooks nutritious meals, there are times when you’re hungover we all must eat delicious bites of heaven that are really bad for you. I’m sorry to let you know about this but you’ll thank me in the end. There is a magical place called Akahlwaya’s which has the best Food for Hungover People, namely a Polony and Chip Roll. Polony is some sort of sausage (it doesn’t have pork here since Akahl’s caters to a lot of Muslim Indians) and the reason I liken it to a doener- both meats that are made in a way that we would rather not know about. On a  toasted roll, they put slices of polony, french fries, masala, chili sauce, ketchup and mayo and then toast the whole thing. I estimate it to be probably upwards of 1000 calories, but that’s neither here nor there- head to Akahlwaya’s next time you are having a bad day (Or your period. Which I guess is the same thing. TMI. Sorry.).

Akahlwaya’s

100 Church Street in Mayfair (there are several, but my colleague recommends this one over the others)

Call ahead with your order, because there is ALWAYS a line 011 839 4003 YOU’RE WELCOME

Scenes from a drive to Durban

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love
Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

We’re in Durban gorging on Indian food, lying on the beach (well I’m lying on the beach), Hubbly Bubbly-ing, and battling my giant humidity induced hair a la Monica on that Friends episode. We’re also testing our manual driving prowess as this is one hilly city. I only made us pull over on the side of the freeway once for pictures on the trip here. It gets very beautiful as soon as you are off the highveld.