South Africa deep in the throes of winter is bent like an old man – our coat hangers hang disproportionately heavy – awkwardly carrying discarded jackets, scarves, and warmth. And while our winters might not quite have the bite of a European one, our houses are undeniably colder, with no central heating and mediocre insulation, it at times, feels colder than a Siberian snowstorm. So, to stave off the winter blues, we’ve added the energy of orange.
This month, we’ve chosen a palette synonymous with that of Van Gogh’s Vermillion Blues and Chrome Orange – adding some vibrancy and zest to our winter blues.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home.” – Edith Sitwell
I’m taking todays wintery table setting from nice to knockout, fusing prints, and packing in pattern upon pattern with our contemporary set-up. Power clashing like a pro, I’ve mixed a simple cocktail of saturated colours, (our striking colour combo of blue and orange) patterns, intricate designs and layered textures to deliberately create a bold, attention-grabbing table.
A loudly printed floral cerise and orange tablecloth serves as the backdrop to this month’s dramatic ‘canvas,’ which is offset by beautifully intricate Spode Blue plates, placed simply and starkly on the cloth. Added to the composition are Dusty Cobalt blue stemmed-wine glasses, which soften the setting, add height and a slightly whimsical feel to the theme. Silverware is the crockery of the day, elegantly, acting as the dinner plate sentry’s – with touches of silver echoed in the napkin rings and various other tableware elements. Height and layering is further emphasised with the odd numbered glass candelabra, bedecked with white candles (white to pick up the flecks of white in the plates and napkins). The addition of winter’s perfect seasonal fruit – oranges piled high on a large blue platter, offer further texture and colour with the inclusion. For my personal touch of something unique, I’ve included my Hilton Nel cat. Originally my mum’s, it holds a very special place in my heart and on this table – with its speckled blue and white glazed scowl, my cat adds a wonderful personality to the table.
Tip to remember when styling – while I love symmetry, odd number grouping, or the rule of three as I like to call it, is an extremely effective way to create visual interest and maintain engagement. Odd numbers are just, well, simply more appealing and memorable to the eye.
Our floral pick of the month draws directly from our blue and orange colour palette. Bursts of colour are an easy way to brighten up your cold-weather mood, and with the power clash combo of flowers and fruit, it makes for a pretty badass bouquet.
I’ve incorporated our seasonal South African citrus and blue hued Hydrangeas together in this simple, yet dramatic arrangement. Your starting point is choosing a range of blue shades, from Powder, Periwinkle and Pico-tee Blue to heavier hues of Lilacs and Liberty Blue. Combine the blue tones together in a casual arrangement and from here, work in your oranges – ensure that they still have their stems on in order to create structure, alternatively use a kebab skewer as a make-shift stem. Simply intersperse amongst the Hydrangeas for a fabulous floral display, and a little burst of sunshine.
Tip for getting the most out of your cut Hydrangeas – if you are cutting them from your garden, a well cut and kept Hydrangea will have a vase lifespan of 6 to 10 days, so for best results, remember to cut only the flowers that are fully opened. With a pair of sharp clean pruning shears, cut the stem at a 45-degree angle – strip away any excess foliage on the stems to ensure that the flowers get the maximum amount of water and enjoy.
I just love Bill Granger’s pork belly recipe, I have made it time and time again over the last few years and every time it is a complete hit! The caramel orange vinegar gives it the wonderful citrus flavour which in my opinion is just the perfect partner for a pork dish.
Bok Choy with Sweet Soy and Lime
Bok Choy with Sweet Soy and Lime
Who doesn’t love a good Caprese salad, and with all the delicious juicy citrus in season right now, I’ve decided on a combo of fresh colours and flavours. Paired with persimmon, creamy mozzarella, balsamic reduction and fresh basil, you’ll have the perfect zesty salad. You can swap out the mozzarella for goat’s cheese, and tomatoes instead of the persimmon.
Take each orange and cut off each end, then cut between the flesh and the white pith. Try to cut off as much white as possible. Then, starting at one end, cut into 1/2 inch circles. Cut the persimmons into thin circles as well. Then just start layering the oranges and persimmon on the plate. Place the mozzarella in the middle, you can of course slice the cheese and layer it in between the fruit slices. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic reduction over your salad. Season with the black salt, a good grinding of black pepper and a sprinkle of micro leaves and enjoy.
Balsamic Reduction Ingredients:
In a small sauce pan whisk the two together and bring to a low boil and simmer for about 8 minutes, just until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
For the frosting:
“A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy.” ―
I love South Africa’s ClemenGold sweet and juicy easy peeling mandarins, but their deliciously citrusy gin is the real palate whetter. This classic Cape Dry style gin is infused with nine botanicals – ClemenGold, orange peel, cinnamon, honey, ground almond, juniper berries, angelica and orris root, and coriander, offering a spicy warmth to chase away the chill. https://www.citrusgin.co.za/
I always believe that winter is our quarterly escape from the frenetic pace of real life, it’s a wonderful time to cocoon, create and concentrate on something new. It’s especially a fabulous time to engage in a mini digital detox. So, with this in mind, here are a selection of wintery wonderland unwinders.
Not only is it a fabulous way to disconnect, and reduce stress – reading transports you into a different world – stimulates your mind, increases your vocabulary and stokes your imagination. For a list of the greatest reads of all time, visit:
Technically this goes against my electronic switch off grain – but podcasting is a fantastic new way of keeping current on hot topics of interest. Quick, sometimes quirky 30 minute plus sessions will have you enlightened on wherever your interests lie.
I’m particularly loving some Foodie podcasts, it’s the perfect place for the culinary curious to dive headfirst into a mixed platter of foodie delights.
For a quick taste of some of my favourite food podcasts / https://uproxx.com/life/best-food-podcasts-right-now/
Yoga is the perfect indoor winter exercise (of course you can practice anywhere) but a daily winter stretch will not only help you tone your muscles, improve your core strength and posture – it will certainly help to stave off the winter blues by increasing your energy levels, harness your happiness and tap into a whole new realm of mindfulness. There is no reason to get into a winter slump, get your blood pumping and pop into some great yoga studios in both JHB and CPT.
I love this old school pen and paper process – aka Journaling, the unconscious stress release of simple doodling, drawing or making notes is an amazingly therapeutic activity. With zero talent or artistic ability needed to dabble in the art of journaling – simply grab a blank paged book, and a pen – you can along the way add in foraged scraps of material, or old receipts, stamps, stickers or photographs. Journaling is both an endless and rewarding practise and there are millions of fantastic how to / with what guides on growing your journaling talent – heres a selection of my fav by far.
Knitting, the new-age yarn karate kid – the hypnotic casting on and off and repetitive clicking of needles will relax your mind, lower your stress levels, and keep your head or hands warm (with whatever you knit).
I love these fabulous knitting blogs, where you can download patterns, follow the latest knitting trends and get the coolest woolly inspirations: