Friday, 18th December
Brymo’s on at Afropolitan vibes and I am dead set on going – I love Brymo. But first, home. It’s a busy weekend. Today there’s the Christmas pageant at the Children’s school, Afropolitan vibes, setting up for the opening of my first photo exhibition and lots of food prep to do – for canapés at the opening and for the
. Lets just say it’s the beginning of the mother of all hectic weekends and the only thing that’ll save me is my list.
I'm fanatical about lists and crossing items off them. My lists live In a physical notebook , which I never leave home without. They are my canvas – I move, plot, plan, record, and basically get my life done off my lists.
White chocolate in a pot on the stove top. I'm making some
for the festival. Its Dami’s
. I take photos of the chocolate, as it changes from white to caramel. I do it for myself and for the ‘gram. I love
I'm done. The sauce is packed in jars. I leave for school because I need to buy water.
I'm at school. Things are about to begin. I watch my daughter play the violin and I'm happy she’s getting lessons at school. I haven’t managed to organise music lessons since we moved to Lagos so I'm glad that this year, she chose to join ‘BAND’ – a music elective (Outsourcing 101).
I'm not going to get to Afropolitan vibes. I'm still at school. There will be no singing and dancing to any of my favourite songs by Brymo – Femi, Down, 1 Pound because I hear the traffic is legendary and I have no desire to sit in it. Sigh. Sometimes, you have to know when to squash that desire and quit.
I'm home. I have a long list of things I want to make for tomorrow so I begin.
. Pawpaw chutney.
Bed. I love my sleep even if I think I have a sleep debt that can never be repaid.
Saturday, 19th December
I'm up. My first-ever photo exhibition opens today at the Kongi Harvest Gallery in Freedom park. It's called ‘Postcards from Lagos’ and I have 20000 things to do. The children have a school Christmas party. I want to say ‘inconveniently’ but *lips sealed*. Thankfully, it’s close to the house so I’ll manage. I have things to make for the opening and the food festival is tomorrow!
We arrive at school party, it’s barely begun. I leave the children to go home and finish a few things off.
I’m done with the last of the prep – making puff puff, and hummus – not to go together though; devilled eggs, zobo, pita crisps. Everything is loaded into the car and we’re on our way, via a friend’s house to pick up her daughter and the Christmas party venue.
We’re at the gallery. I start signing the photos with red permanent marker. It is surreal. I sign the photos with a signature I've had for years – my art signature – which is different from the one I use for my cheques. I'm calm and shaken at the same time. Are these my photos? Mine? Damn. Unreal.
I remember almost every detail and emotion, feeling when I took each photo. I even remember some thoughts. I smile when people ask how I ‘make’ time for all the things I do. There’s no making time, there’s just doing because I've discovered that the art of making time is the mother of procrastination.
So I take up 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there and do things in bits, and bites. Most of the photos in this exhibition were taken with my mobile phone, from the back of a passing car because I hate sitting up front (long story but involves whiplash from multiple collision while not wearing a seatbelt when I was 15 – I always wear my seatbelt. Even when I sit at the back).
I think you have to perfect the art of being who you are where ever you are, even if that’s in Lagos traffic, and often.
and I'm rushing to lay out the table. I feel behind. Am behind but I'm trying to stay focused. I wonder if there’ll be a flood of guests, if I’ll sell all the photos today.
All’s set and we sit, waiting for the first guests. Two photos are bought in the first few minutes – rainy ones of Lagos. I feel like an artist, even if I'm an unintentional one because to be honest, I've been taking photos all my life with no thought to ever seeing them line the walls as art.
#Thankful. It makes me think of Steve Jobs and the 2005
he gave at Stanford. In it he says ‘Find what you love and do it’.
Sunday, 20th December
I keep saying try very many things, even the seemingly random ones. It’s the only way you’ll know what you like versus not. Though I don’t like how little sleep I give myself, I love the art of doing.
warning to be at the Festival gates by 11am have me on my toes.
We’re all packed. In the car.
10. 52am or so.
We arrive at Park View. We offload the car and begin setting up.
So much for lists – well, not really, we've forgotten the salads at home. Tomi – my right hand has to go get them. I love working with people even though it doesn't always seem like it. I'm learning a lot about delegating with clear instruction and the power of communication. I'm learning because I still mess up many times but like I said, I'm learning.
Our first customer comes as we’re putting final touches to the table. He orders the (amazing if I might say so myself) Smoky Snail Jollof Rice. People ask me how I think up some of my recipes and I shrug. Some I can identify clear paths and the others, God, the universe gifts me.
Sometimes I let my mind wander and play with combinations, many gorgeous things have resulted. I think we have to be courageous when it comes to testing the boundaries. I don’t say fearless though, but we must do it in spite of.
I'm sold out in a few hours and for the first time, am able to leave my stand and check out other vendors. I sample some awesomeness – Shaki Toasties by
, the most delicious build-your-won-cupcakes by
and more. The festival ground is heaving – I don’t think anyone was ready for the turn out.
I get home, exhausted. There’s work tomorrow and lots of big events this week so no rest.
Thursday, 24th December
In the week, I’ve been to see Postcards from Lagos again, done some mad shopping and made decisions, decisions, decisions. It’s the week of my #Big60 event – an annual popup restaurant hosted at the gallery of
. The theme this year is in conjunction with the British Council, sponsored by
It is the first time I’ll be in a professional kitchen and I'm a bit afraid.
Everytime I come to a crossroads about making decisions, I reread Steve Shapiro’s ‘
’. He says ‘With the right mindset, any decision is the right decision’. Complicated? No. I want to forget all this as I spend the morning, afternoon, evening prepping for Sunday. I’m frantically working through my lists. My friend Tomi of
who encouraged me to ‘apply’ to cook at #Big60 has been a rock – I ring her to talk about random stuff like plates and cutlery and teapots.
We stop to buy berries and last minute stuff for Christmas day and beyond. Then we head to A Whitespace for dinner – not mine, but another Chef’s.
We've been home for a couple of hours and I've been prepping for Christmas day. We’re having lunch with friends and I want to take a few things, plus I want to have puffpuff chicken balls for breakfast so I make the batter just before I head to bed, and leave it covered in the fridge.
Friday, 25th December. Christmas day
I'm up. Resting for a few minutes before I throw myself into the day.
I get an email asking if I can fulfil an order for food to be delivered to a rig offshore on the morning of Boxing Day. Because it’s for people who are away from family at this time, I say yes and proceed to call myself crazy because I’ll be out for most of the day.
The first batch of Puff puff chicken balls are out and they’re banging. I cant even tell you how delicious they are dipped in zobo pepper sauce. This is mostly what I have for breakfast.
We settle down to breakfast. Unlike the past, it’s food that has been co created - the children have done so much and it looks stunning. We eat and laugh and give thanks for the year. They can hardly sit still – they want to open presents and see who got what and who still owes what.
We leave for Sangotedo – it’s the furthest east I've driven in Lagos. I'm petrified – I drive and have driven since I was 16 (and that’s a pretty long time) but I don’t enjoy it much. Half an hour later, we arrive.
It’s 6pm when we get back home and prepare to go to dinner at another friend’s.
We’re home. Everyone goes to bed and I'm up making the cakes and stuff that will be picked up at 5 am. I imagine I’ll only need a couple of hours but I'm up till 7am the following morning.
I've made carrot cake, brownies, peanutty chicken skewers, zobo for pick up. I've also multitasked and made blackberries poached in zobo, rhubarb poached in tea and tangelo zest. I've made the chocolate and salted caramel mousses that will fill my crepe cake.
The food to be picked up is ready at 4.54am. The driver doesn't make it to mine till 5.30am. I hand him the box with the goodies. Rather than go to bed, I feed my OCD and clean up a little. I'm not a very tidy person but there are certain things I like to do – like tidy up as I go along in the kitchen.
Saturday, 26th December
It’s 7.12 am when I head to bed. Exhausted to the bone.
And 9.36am when I get up. And to an email ‘Received!! About to open’ with a host of smileys and 13.51pm when I get another one full of praises and love and ‘It tastes like she (Ozoz) made all this with love!’. There’s very little that soothes a soul, my soul like this – touching people with my food.
Its 2.30pm and my friend Tomi has come back from the store with chicken for tomorrow’s event. We’re headed out but I want to marinate the chicken. I open the first pack and it’s off. As are all the other packs. I want to cry because of the dual task of returning it (and the resistance I'm sure will follow) and sourcing better produce…on an already busy day.
It’s 8.04pm when we get home with all the vegetables that need prepping. The checklist comes out and we work non-stop.
Sunday, 27th December
Wake. It’s the day. #Big60. The day passes in a blur.
someone comes to pick up a batch of Chicken suya puffpuff balls. I know. I’m crazy.
Another person picks up 4 sets of canapes and drinks for an event
We leave for the Big 60 Kitchen.
I love most of it. I understand why I’ll never work in a restaurant full time. I cannot stand the pressure. I love sharing my food with people. I'm confused. I haven’t fully processed the day so I can’t write much.
Monday, 28th December
we finally get home. Exhausted. Elated. Fulfilled. It’s the perfect day to wrap up a year that has stretched me left right and centre.
I fall asleep xxx