It must literally be alive. Decorating a home is a process that takes many years and at every stage of our lives this on-going process mirrors the way we live. The décor and style needs of a young couple starting out would be quite different to those of a young couple with young children and as the children grow older, become teenagers and young adults there is a shift in those needs. Often the style and décor needs of teenage children may overwhelm the needs of parents but as we grow older and the children leave home a calmer relaxed and more defined style and elegance begins to emerge.
When we first set up home we may not be very sure about whom we really are, styles are not yet defined, colours may be a mismatch. Furnishings too may be made up of gifts and borrowed items from parents and friends. It is in these early days that we must have an idea and begin to dream of what we would want to achieve in terms of colour and style.
Although colour and style may take many years to define, a series of disasters may ensue before we hit the right note. What we can never compromise on is cleanliness and order, this is the essence of a beautiful home. It is important therefore that as home makers we pay attention to cleaning routines that are repetitive and become normal and easy.
Curtains must be clean simple and well hung, not using bits of string but curtain tape and hooks, they must be full and give good coverage providing privacy and a background for your furniture. Windows must be cleaned regularly and kept open during the day in order to allow fresh air to circulate in the rooms. Walls must be kept clean and this means that they have to be washed regularly removing any marks and you may need to use a broom to dust your walls and ceilings to remove cobwebs and spiders. There is nothing more off putting than to enter a room where the floors are shining only to notice cobwebs and dirty walls.
Essence of a beautiful home is order
A beautiful home, like a beautiful woman, should be a joy to behold, it must make an impression that starts with the garden all the way in through to a clean and uncluttered entrance hall, living room dining room kitchen bathrooms and bedrooms. We cannot begin to think about colour and style without order and cleanliness. It is also important to remember that the onus and responsibility for cleaning a home rests with the lady of the house and not the domestic worker. Every home must have a cleaning diary which should be clear, giving instructions on what should be done on a daily basis, kitchen cupboards and drawers must be turned out and fumigated regularly as must fridges and stoves. Daily kitchen cleaning routines must be so thorough as to eliminate odours and disease causing insects. In the next few weeks we will be focussing our attention on how to achieve order and cleanliness, before we begin work on this palette in order to achieve a style and elegance that reflects just who you are.
Everybody can have a truly beautiful home, I have seen beauty in a village hut with glistening dark floors and intricately designed traditional pots displayed on wooden shelves just as I have seen style and elegance in homes in Warren Park and Borrowdale.
Style is the defining factor and as Oscar Wilde said, there is nothing worse than having money without style! And style is most certainly not expensive, we all can afford it.
Dining with presidents
It’s not often you get invited to dine with presidents, but several local journalists were, recently, at visiting Zambian president Michael Sata’s insistence. Gillian Gotora, now a freelance filing for Associated Press in Harare, was one of them. She writes:
A banquet hosted by President Mugabe at State House was for his Zambian counterpart Michael Sata.
The official programme said dinner would be “saved’’ at 8pm. It was indeed served: a buffet, at about the correct time.
Sata was jovial at the top table, sitting alongside the man 10 years his senior whom he often referred to as his sekuru.
He poked fun at lavishly medalled service chiefs, Zimbabwe’s highest ranking military officers, calling them mere “cadres’’ whom he first knew in the early days of the independence war over which Zambia made great sacrifices.
Buffet tables groaned under the broadest fare a Zimbabwe-style buffet could offer.
Some time ago, when the Equatorial Guinea leader was on a state visit, men in dark suits and darker glasses descended on the food like vultures before anyone else got a look in. We journos never got so much as a glass of water on such occasions.
But this time, it was different: perhaps for the ebullient, maverick Sata so he could see how well Zimbabwe treats its media people.
I was met by a well-mannered woman who told me to go into a starlight-lit tent to join colleagues already there. Glitzy décor was impressive. Despite our president being teetotal, drink was in abundance.
There were cordials, juices, beers and the best Shiraz and Merlot wines from South Africa’s Robertson’s Winery. Soft dinner music played in the background. I, of course, opted for juice. Bowls of salted biltong and roasted peanuts were on the tables.
For starters, we were offered cream of mushroom soup, an array of salads, cold meats and madora/mancimbi (Mopani worms) with chilies.
Main buffet was sadza, boiled potatoes, white rice, rice with peanut butter (nedovi), tripe and casings, braised trout in a tomato garnish, stewed chicken, beef bones, boiled mixed vegetables, beetroot, potato salad and coleslaw. Dessert: strawberry ice-cream and a wide variety of cakes.
The genial atmosphere at the dinner offered me a fleeting glimpse how wonderfully the Press and government can co-exist if given a chance. It is even an understatement to say the security men manning the State House gates were gallant: more than perfect gentlemen and very courteous, a somewhat new experience.
After all, I was a last-minute guest of presidents.
Next came an evening with South Africa’s former president Thabo Mbeki, heading a fund raiser for my old university, the now blighted, dilapidated University of Zimbabwe.
The dinner, costing US$200 a plate, was held in the Great Hall. I never thought I would ever dine in the Great Hall, which, for me, evokes feelings of trepidation. It is where I sweated exams. It has always evoked a deep, forbidding sense of toil and pressure.
But the organisers did an amazing job of turning it into a convivial venue. Food was eventually served at 10:30 pm.
Yet another buffet of cold meats, salads, sadza, rice, potatoes, braised beef, chicken stew, deep fried bream and boiled vegetables. Very Zimbabwean dessert: ice cream, fruit salad, trifle and cake
Maybe it’s time Zimbabwean caterers become a bit more creative.