Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


Examining Navel, Thanks to Blog Award

Thanks to the very lovely Zoesmom and the equally lovely Featherduster for a blogging award and a meme. Here is the award:


To claim this beauty, I have to list seven personality traits, and then nominate seven others. I am always happy to navel-gaze, so here goes:

1. I have a Facebook habit. I like reading people’s updates and looking at the photos. I don’t send gifts and nor do I poke, prod or offer lollies for people to suck, but I enjoy the somewhat conspiratorial aspect of keeping an eye on things and making contact with people I knew 20 years ago. I am also recently addicted to the new version of FB Scrabble (non-US and Canada), so if anyone wants a game, let me know. My present opponents are being rather tardy.

2. I get a sick feeling in my stomach if I am late, so I make every effort not to be. This means I am often early, and I sit around waiting for others.

3. I am not thorough and tend to go for big sweeping overall impressions. I can only be detailed in short bursts. Writing a novel is shaking me to the core of my being, because it is all about details, with one layer being placed on top of another. It’s a kind of architectural thinking and planning that I last used at university and it is a challenge to be doing so again.

4. I love tidiness but can be very messy. My own mess is tolerable, that of others less so.

5. I am extremely sociable, have a lot of friends and love being around people, but I also desperately need time alone. If I don’t find that time to be alone in my head without anyone chatting to me, requiring things from me or wanting me to do stuff, I get snappy and ill-tempered.

6. I am impatient with people who have no interest in others and who use other people as sounding-boards to bounce back their own fascinating words. Really, if you want to bore me with the tedious details of your life without showing any interest in mine, get a blog.

7. I am not good at confrontation, but believe two things – a) that is is important to be my own representative, since who else is going to be, and b) that I need my children to learn that confrontation doesn’t mean the world is going to fall apart – so am trying to be better at it. I find that humour works.

Now I tag:


Couch trip

Dad Who Writes




The Adventuress


I’d Like to Thank My Mother

It’s award season here at Charlotte’s Web. While I’d like to say I’ve been styled and primped to within an inch of my life, I am sitting here in my pyjamas wrapped in a big fleece blankie. But that’s the cool thing about blogging – you can accept awards from the sofa, without having to go much further than the fridge for the next snack.

My first award is from the ever-amusing Ms Honeypiehorse, who I’m dying to meet since I believe she is just like me, only taller, blonder and funnier. She’s given me the lemonade award for great attitude, which I’m loving since I do try to be just a little bit perky. Here it is:

lemonadeIsn’t it cute?

And I would like to thank my mother, since I have learned it all from her, all the glass half-full, stay away from toxic people, you can do anything you put your mind to, it’s all about the journey stuff that keeps me going. She has been a firm influence in my life and I am so pleased to count her as one of my favourite people in the whole world. Toni, I raise my glass of freshly-pressed lemonade to you.

I get to pass the award on. Excuse me while I go and have a browse in my feedreader.

I’m back! Still wearing the blankie, though.

1. The first award goes to Diana, with her beautiful smile, and completely enviable haircut. Diana’s attitude through recent sorrow – and indeed throughout her long blogging career – is nothing short of remarkable. Pour yourself a glass of lemonade, Ms Martinis for Two. I know you will receive this award more appropriately dressed than me.

2. The next glass of lemonade is for Rae of Journey Mama, who recently relocated to Goa, India with her superstar husband and three small children (a fourth joined them shortly afterwards). Rae faces life with the most incredible attitude, and I have been loving her gratitude posts, which remind me daily to be grateful for what I have.

3. Ms Musings from the Sofa is my kind of girl, all about the books and the shoes. While she lives in the US, she has retained her dark British humour which peppers all her musings. I just know that you’ll drink your glass of lemonade while wearing vertiginous high heels, Ms M, and probably also flicking through an erudite tome.

4. Lia of the Yum Yum Cafe was my first BTRL (Blog to Real Life) friend. I love her attitude, which is thoughtful, engaging and resilient. Lia is an aficionado of European cafe society, and apart from teaching me how to appreciate a great cup of tea, she has also taught me to cherish my writing time and space.

5. P of Life is Just One Big Adventure is a RLTB (Real Life to Blog) friend. She is new to blogging, and I am sending her this long tall glass of lemonade as a welcome to the blogosphere. You have fabulous attitude, dear P, and it shines through in your life and in your blog. I am so glad you are my friend!

Folks, if you can bear it, the love-fest ain’t over yet, for the lovely Kit – who I am about to meet in Cape Town for the first time ever – also sent me an award. This one is for being fabulous! My blankie and I accept the award graciously, for fabulosity is one of our aims. The award looks like this:


Before I pass it on to fabulous others, I have to list my five fabulous addictions. (A list! Hooray!) Here goes:

1. Dresses. For someone who mostly wears jeans and lives in a country where the sun shines for about two months of the year, I own a silly amount of dresses. When it comes to dresses, I am weak-willed. I cannot resist a good one. One day I have will do a dress post so that you can see just how addicted I am.

2. Foolish shoes. I have had a lifetime’s love for foolish shoes – pointy, high-heeled ones that give me blisters and make me walk like a donkey. Ditto the dress post for the shoe post. I live in my Chucks, but gosh do I love those heels.

3. Low-carb eating. Am a convert. Eating, feeling full and Not Having Any Sugar Cravings For the First Time in My Life. I don’t need to say any more.

4. Champagne, sparkling wine, Sekt – really any form of wine with bubbles – preferably drunk at breakfast-time. Lends the day a certain je ne sais quoi.

5. Books! I might not be eating sugar, but I am always hungry for more books.

On that note, I think I will deliver the Fabulous Award to five book-bloggers. Please go on to share the award with others. Here goes:

1. Pete of the Couch Trip. Like me, Pete throws some life into his book blogging. He hails from my favourite African city and never fails to be intelligent and interesting, especially in his field, psychology. I believe that boys can be fabulous too, and Pete, you certainly are.

2. Emily, who claims not to be a book blogger but so is. You are fabulous in every way!

3. One of the blogosphere’s most dedicated book bloggers is the fabulous Litlove. Every post is a seminar, radiant with intelligence and generosity of spirit.

4. Helen of A was Alarmed is completely fabulous, in her writing about writing, books and the escapades of her small son.

5. And the final nominee of this evening is BlogLily, whose blog shines with fabulosity.

Well, that’s a wrap then. The blankie is mewling and wants to be put to bed, and I really, really should stop drinking champagne. These after-parties can get quite out of hand.


Liveblogging the ECHO Awards

11.04pm: Wladimir Klitschko here to give a lifetime achievement award to the Scorpions for selling 75 million records, 60 albums, 300 songs, and being the most successful German rock band ever. The Scorpion medley is brilliant! Some real rock at last, and a great way to end the evening.

10.53pm: At last, here’s Depeche Mode, with their new single “Wrong”. Nice twangy keyboards, and clashing chords. Great song, great performance, worth staying up for.

10.48pm: Best Female Artist Rock/Pop National … oh, sorry I must have dropped off. Stephanie Heinzmann.

10.44pm: Razorlight sings and your correspondent is still not moved. (Did I mention that Barbara Schoenemeyer is now wearing her sixth outfit? Go Barbara! Rock those wardrobe changes.)

10.36pm: Best Artist Rock/Pop National … Would the rocker in the house please stand up? And it’s Udo Lindenberg, this time without the astronaut suit, but wearing some fab tracky bots.

10.27pm: 2008 was the year of female pop stars, apparently. Amy, Amy, Duffy, Leona, Katy. Here’s lovely little Katy now with ANOTHER FREAKIN’ BALLAD. Would someone rock for me please?! Is it so much to ask?

10.17pm: German star Helene Fischer sings while wearing a very large mermaid. I am hating the song. Can I go to bed now? Oh no, I can’t she’s getting an award, for … Best Deutsche Schlager and Best German Newcomer. Very sincere and fluent speech.

10.12pm: 2009 Critic’s Prize goes to Peter Fox. Bless, he’s brought his beer with him.

10.03pm: Best International Newcomer is … Amy MacDonald! And she’s wearing wet-look leggings, and trying to speak German which is too cute with her Scottish accent. And now she’s singing “This is the Life”, which is, frankly, the best song of the evening so far. Worth staying awake for.

9.55pm: 2008 was the year of the comeback: Grace Jones, Britney Spears, AC/DC, Metallica and German pop icon Udo Lindenberg. Here’s the lovely Udo now wearing an astronaut suit that my son would give his Weetabix for. Full marks to the costume designer. I especially like the way the helmet keeps tipping forward so that poor old Udo can’t look out. Ooh! Space chicks! Got to have a bit of tin foil. This song is called Woddy Woddy Wodka. I’m not joking. It’s so awful, it’s good, and the audience LOVE it.

9.52pm: Video clip to Kid Rock wearing fun fur and receiving an award for … Best Song of the Year.

9.44pm: Silbermond! Some real rocking, at last. This should keep me awake. Err, no, somewhat underwhelming song.

9.38pm: Some girls in dirndls give awards for the best folk music. Big, big category here in Germany, of little interest to the rest of the world. And the winner is … the Kastelruther Spatzen!!! Nearly fell off my seat there. Did you notice?

9.31pm: Surprisingly cool song from Alex Swings Oscar Sings – Germany’s entrant in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

9.25pm: Mourning my lost copy. It was witty, I tell you. Now the award for Hip Hop Urban. It’s gone to Peter Fox, newcomer from Berlin whose album Stadtaffe has gone platinum in Germany.

9.15pm: Some slick boys in suits up to present an award for the Most Successful Jazz something something something National. And the winner is … Til Brönner, who is apparently Germany’s most well-known jazz export. Hmm. Who’da thunk it? Very smooth acceptance speech. Nice-looking fella.

ACHTUNG! WordPress just swallowed an hour’s worth of insightful commentary. I may have lost the will to live. Or I’ll just crack the tequila I was saving for Depeche Mode.

8.15pm: Barbara Schoeneberger wearing an interestingly ruched purple dress that recalls the Eighties. Oliver Pocher has my heart, and not just because of his name. So cute, and funny too. U2 performing a song from their new album “Line on the Horizon”. Their first performance in Germany for ten years. The usual big visuals and Bono, sorry to say it, gurning.

8.10pm: News very boring. Salami sticks finished.

7.55pm: Lionel Richie wearing a glittery coat on the red carpet. Paul Potts and Mrs Potts looking puzzled. Depeche Mode looking cold. It’s chilly in Berlin tonight.

7pm: Tonight I’m covering the ECHO Awards – Germany’s answer to the Grammys and the Brits – for Buzzine from the comfort of my own sofa. I thought I’d live blog it for my entertainment and for the three of you who might just be with me. If you are in Germany, feel free to watch it on Die Erste and chime in. First off, some background reading. See the big names performing tonight: U2, Depeche Mode, Razorlight, Amy MacDonald, Katy Perry, Die Toten Hosen, Silbermond. Up for awards are the likes of Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, REM, Rosenstolz and Jack Johnson (quiver!). Then, to set the scene: Your correspondent eats last night’s leftovers and some salad at a wonderful local establishment called The Dining-Room (original, non?). She then proceeds, paparazzi snapping, to the sofa. Tonight she is wearing pants in a delicate grey melange, paired with a black sweater and accessorized with a giant pink blanket and Falke hiking socks, cleverly marked “R” and “L” just in case she drinks too much mineral water and forgets. Now that she is following a hardcore low-carb regime in order to preserve her figure, your correspondent will be snacking on salami sticks, macadamia nuts and olives. Later on, she may break loose and have a chai. You never know. Hold onto your seats, readers! This could get very exciting.


Reading in 2008

I’ve dived into 2009 with a delicious orgy of reading. The kids are still on holiday, it’s minus bloody something outside and I’ve got a blankie and a pile of Christmas books to work through. Luxury! So far I’ve read both of Barack Obama’s books (Dreams from my Father and Audacity of Hope) and Elizabeth George’s latest massive tome, the 530-page Careless in Red. I have also read and cooked from my wonderful birthday present, Nigella Lawson’s latest recipe book Nigella Express. (I can recommend the fudge.) Now I am reading Mary McCarthy’s The Group, which I bought in New York last year, and which promises to be delightful. More time under the blankie is predicted. Pity the fudge is finished though.

But before I get carried away with this year’s reading, and before 2008 dissolves completely, I thought I’d better review last year’s books. My total for the year was 53 books, which my old self finds disappointing since she fondly imagined she always read at least 100 books a year. Turns out I don’t: in 2007, I read 81 and this year 18 books fewer. My new self knows why – I spent more time writing than reading in 2008, and I hope that 2009 will be the same. I don’t subscribe to reading goals, though I admire those who do, but found that I consciously avoided literary fiction and books set in South Africa because I wanted to avoid any crossover with what I am writing. I read a lot of memoirs, some chick lit, some thrillers and a couple of books from the start of last century. Turns out, though, that my favourite reads of the year were litfic, so that probably is my natural reading home.

Here are the stats:

Fiction: 34 (64%)

Non-fiction: 19 (35%)

Short story collections: 1 (1.8%)

Memoirs: 11 (20%)

True crime: 1 (1.8%)

Books on AIDS: 3 (5.6%)

Thrillers: 5 (9.4%)

Books by women: 36 (67%)

Books by non-Anglo American writers: 10 (18%)

Dry stats aside, here are my awards:

Book of the Year:

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimimanda Ngozi Adechie – superb prose, wonderfully drawn characters and a history lesson all in one package. A wonderful book, destined to become a classic.

Runner-up: Richard Ford’s trilogy, of which I have only read The Sportswriter and The Lay of the Land. Ford deserves all the paeans and praise he receives for he is a wonderful writer. The surprise for me in both books was his characterization of the Tri-State area: in Ford’s skillful hands, it becomes a protagonist itself.

Find of the Year:

Geraldine Brooks! I read all three of her novels this year and was most impressed. She has a facility with bringing a specific historical period to life, be it Civil War USA, plague-ridden England or post-war Serbia.

Blogging Recommendation of the Year:

Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, recommended by Litlove. I loved this novel for its powerful, tragic story and rushed off to present it to my book club only to discover that all US members had read it either in high school or at university. Not so new to them though, but a wonderful find for me.

Thriller of the Year:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – a gripping plot and ace characterization. I look forward to reading his two other novels.

Most Disappointing Thriller of the Year:

PD James’s The Private Patient. Oh dear, the master of the art was off-form with this one: plot didn’t gel, characters weren’t clearly or thoroughly realized and the motive for murder was vague, at best.

Most Hard-Hitting Non-Fiction:

A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous. This had strong contenders in The Gifts of the Body and Sizwe’s Test, but its frank telling of Berlin in the dying days of World War II was brutal.

Most Spectacularly Annoying Protagonist:

Undine Spragg of The Custom of the Country – what a grasping, power-hungry and superficial woman. A fascinating portrayal of avarice by the stylist extraordinaire, Edith Wharton. (I did I envy Undine’s wardrobe, though.)

Memoir Writer With Whom I Would Most Like To Have Dinner:

Anthony Bouraine, without a doubt. Especially if he’s cooking.

Protagonist I Most Wanted to be Friends With:

The Girls of Riyadh! What a fabulous bunch. Of all the chick-lit books I read, this one stands out the most in my memory (they often melt into a messy, love-stricken whole).

Book that Brought on Landscape Envy:

The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Lauren Liebenberg. Despite the irritating title, it made me long for Africa.

Right now, with temperatures sinking and snow outside, I’m still longing for Africa. So my plan is to burrow further under my blankie and read some more. My reading resolution for 2009 is write more than I read, and post more frequent reviews. To kick-off, I will review one of my 2009 books – vote in the comments for which one you would like me to review.

Wishing you a wonderful reading year!


Hooray for the Cooksister!

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the South African Blog Awards. The award for the best South African overseas blog was given to my friend Jeanne who writes the fabulous Cook Sister! blog. She also won best SA food blog. Jeanne is a wonderful food writer, who is intelligent and funny, and one day she’s going to publish a food book that I’m going to love as much as I love Nigella Lawson’s and Nigel Slater’s cookery books.

Go forth and read the Cook Sister. You will be so glad you did.



I need to acknowledge some people who have been mentioning me, and tagging me for memes. Firstly, the very lovely Susie gave me this:


I need to pass it on to 10 other bloggers. Now all the bloggers I read are excellent, and I don’t know how to acknowledge only 10 so I’m going to procrastinate a little. Bear with me.

Then, Litlove tagged me for this meme In The Event of a Crisis.

My yoga hero YogaMum tagged me for the Marriage Meme, in honour of Valentine’s Day.

The very kind Emily mentioned me here, in her You Make My Day meme. Emily, I have also forgotten how we met. Perhaps it was through Litlove? Or Dorothy?

My favourite foodie, Jeanne, of the essential CookSister, mentioned me in her post on nominations for the South African blog awards. South African bloggers and readers, please go forth and nominate.

Mrs Blogoway tagged me for the 123 Meme.

James, of the wonderful corporate social responsibility blog Wisdom of Clouds, tagged me for 8 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me.

Now I am aware that I’m behind, and I have a guilty conscience, and let’s just say I’m working on it.

Thank you for the tags and the mentions and the awards. You’re a lovely lot.