Please sir, can I have some more?

My mother makes the most divine butternut soup, so delicious that she has ruined me on butternut soup forever. I can only enjoy hers. On a rainy Cape Town day, there is nothing better than my mom’s butternut soup and a thick chunk of government wholewheat bread. Since that’s not so easily accessible to us in the USA, I asked my mom for her recipe so we can all dream of rainy Cape days:

CAPE BUTTERNUT SOUP

Halve or double all ingredients depending on your requirements.  Be quite flexible actually.

Take 5 or 6 leeks, wash, dice and soften in olive oil (or butter) in the base of your soup pot. Garlic can be added at this stage if desired. Lots, if desired.  Add 4-6 butternut, roughly chopped, 6-8 carrots, fill ¾ with water.  Place 2 or 3 sticks of cinnamon (optional but very nice) into pot and boil on high heat for about ½ hour or until it’s really soupy.  Add herb salt, chicken or vegetable stock depending on your taste buds, health or religious concerns.  I use homemade chicken stock. If I don’t have any, I might cook the soup with canned fat free chicken broth instead of water.
Now begins the messy part.  When cooked, remove cinnamon, strain soup and put through a food processor in batches till as fine and smooth as possible.
Thin if necessary with water, or with orange juice for a completely different taste, or serve really thick the way we like it.  At serving time, I like to add a dollop of yoghurt to each bowl, or, for guests, a swirl of cream and a snippet of parsley Serve hot or cold with croutons, sour dough or rye bread.

POST SCRIPT:

I sometimes roast/bake the butternut in the oven for the greatest flavor and scoop out the flesh before boiling with the stock, but have been known to pre-cook it in the microwave before boiling, or simply buy cubed butternut from Costco.

Royalties to Elana Newman (My mom wrote that, not me)

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Taking the Mickey out of it

I was recently at the Sundance Film Festival and was totally intrigued that McDonalds had set up a cafe at one of the most premium venues at the festival. For 4 days, they served free coffee, tea and cookies from 10am to 4pm. You could even get oatmeal in the morning. The venue was at The Lift, which, while still a functioning ski lift, during the festival houses the Stella Artois Cafe (try and get a pass for that, not) and several gifting suites. At night it’s also home to the Tao Nightclub. And there was good old Mickey D’s.

 

 

 

 

They did a great job of the space, and must have spent a fair packet doing it. Although I recognize those furry grey pillows from Target, the signage was really nicely done, silkscreened on fabric giving it an upscale feel. They created a really fun, funky, warm vibe. There were two cosy sitting areas, one screened off with some drapes, cool wood paneled walls, and free wifi. Their theme of illustrations peppered most of the elements, and gave a fitting, artsy feel to the venue. All really, really nicely done. Have I mentioned that?

A couple of walls hosted outlined handprints of celebrities with their photos, for a “lend a hand to warm a heart” campaign. And I really appreciated that they were quite roughly done – gave it a very authentic, creative feel. I saw a couple of their staff getting paw prints from celebrities and it was a nice way of taking the campaign outside and then bringing it in. Effective, at Sundance, in the moment, yes.

 

But here’s the rub: in the end, I was still holding a cup of McDonalds in my hand. And for a diehard Starbucks drinker, no fancy cool Sundance cafe is going to change that. And I can’t imagine that the Hollywood crowd are going to drop their Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf either. So you’ve gotta ask. What did this do for McDonalds? I didn’t see hoards of press. And I subsequently haven’t seen any mainstream media coverage of it. So who was the Cafe for? The McDonalds executives who now feel pleased that they had a presence at Sundance? The ad agency who must be feeling quite happy that they persuaded their client to do this? It certainly wasn’t for their consumers, and it certainly didn’t do a strong enough job of capturing influencers. I made a comment to a girl in a lounge about it later that day, and she told me that she threw her cup away the minute she walked out of the door because she “didn’t want McDonalds coffee”.

And I hate to say it, but I think it makes McDonalds look silly. It makes it look like they’re pretending to be something that they’re not, and I think that’s bad for the brand image in the long run. Don’t pretend to be a premium brand if you’re not. And in any case, your true target market isn’t at Sundance. But if you’ve gotta do it, then stay true to your brand. Bring Ronald McDonald to Sundance and make it 70’s cheesy. Go back to the burger – god knows the 2am crowd could have done with that.

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Tiek Boutiek

I love a new fashion find, and I love it even more when the marketing and packaging is spot on. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day and my new pink ballet slippers: let’s chat about Tieks by Gavrieli.

I recently ordered a pair of Tieks online. I had seen an ad on Facebook (see, Facebook ads DO work!) and received a discount code. Still they’re quite pricey at around $200. The other day I had my first chance to wear these (it’s snowing heaps in Denver, and I was in San Diego where it’s always ballet slipper weather!). I’m a fussy slipper girl, and these were a dream! Perfectly comfortable even though I walked quite a lot. Just goes to show that sometimes the premium options is worth it!

But let’s talk about the most impressive part of Tieks: the packaging and presentation. From the bright teal blue accents, which carry from the shoes to the absolutely adorable box with flower, to the handwritten note (really!) from the company, Tieks has it spot on. This just what a consumer like me wants to see. And my daughter Mia has taken to wearing the yellow flower in her hair! Plus, the shoes come not only with their own little “purse” but that smaller bag unfolds into a larger one, where you can stash those stilettos you climbed out of. I think I’m going  to have to pick up a couple more pairs for summer, or move to San Diego and wear them every day. Whichever comes first!

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Snowflake

It’s amazing to see how our kids’ inherent abilities and traits come out. 6 year old Max has this magnificent blend of great mechanical and engineering skills, and creativity. And it’s lovely when I find an actual physical manifestation of that. We were visiting Max’s class and his teacher showed us a project the kids had done. It was very simple: they had paper and scissors and had to create a snowflake. Most of the kids cut out a shape and then cut patterns into that shape. Not Max.

On a different note but same theme, Max has a cousin whose name is Blake and he asked us, “is his name just Flake, or is it actually Snowflake?”

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Over the moon

Ok, so I know some might say I’m too old for moon boots, but I was going to the Sundance Film Festival and just felt these were really appropriate for the setting: a football party on the Sunday, thrown by ESPN. I never expected that these little puppies would stop the show. People LOVED them! Every second person commented on my moon boots (even thought my dad asked if they were Gay Pride boots) and I’d say they were a hit. And even though my dad might be right: a man stopped me on the street and asked if I thought he was too gay to get a pair, I just love a showstopper shoe and expressing my support of the Pride, even if I do look like I have a case of club foot. I paired them with skinny jeans and a sequined tracksuit top. And thanks to their huge size, my legs looked tiny – a hidden benefit, yay!

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Give me a hand

I’m doing a 14 day detox by Dr. Frank Lipman, and they’ve got such a great guide for portion control that I wanted to share:

Protein: the size of your palm
Veggies: the size of your open hand
Healthy Carbs: the size of your fist
Salad: the size of two open hands

Handy, right?

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Seat with a view

I was just looking at some theatre tickets and came across this website that I wanted to share. It’s called aviewfrommyseat.com and I think it’s a really cool idea!

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