Living The Life
Even dressed in a simple cotton dress, without the benefit of make-up, Zanell is the picture of glamour. Her house, built by husband Stephan, reflects its owner’s welcoming vibes. High-ceilinged, uncluttered and uncomplicated, the family moved in a couple of weeks before their first son, Eli, was born. She laughs about not having had much input in deciding on the finishing touches of the house: “I was so pregnant, I couldn’t care less. I went with the flow.” A fun couple who love entertaining, the house is ideal for their needs. Centred around a large, open-plan kitchen and living area, it overlooks a sizable garden and views beyond.
Since completing their home, Stephan has gone on to building others on the estate. A civil engineer and the owner of a filling station in Steiltes, Zanell says there’s no way only one day job could keep her energetic husband occupied. “He’s constantly on the move, and can’t sit still,” she says, describing him as an outgoing and confident person, in contrast to her more reserved nature. The relationship started out as a teenage holiday romance in Stilbaai when Zanell was 16. When they bumped into each other again six years later, the instant recognition was mutual, “and we simply went on,” she smiles. Living in Joburg at the time, they got married at Likweti before settling in the Lowveld, where Stephan is from.
Zanell comes from Potchefstroom where she also completed her studies in communications and media. She did a stint as an airline hostess for Qatar Airways, but returned to her first love a few years ago, opening up her own ballet studio at Curro in 2014 – and she couldn’t be happier. “I’ve been dancing since I’ve been four, so it makes the most sense,” she says. Following the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum, the focus is on technical proficiency, discipline and passing exams, but also having fun. Instilling a love of dance comes naturally and her charges adore her in return. She offers lessons for all ages, and although adult ballet classes are yet to take off as a “thing” in the Lowveld, it’s something to consider, girls!
When she’s not teaching, looking after a toddler and a baby keeps her pretty busy. Although a girly girl, she considers herself to be a boys’ mom, describing her sons as “easy” and “without issues”. Both kids were unplanned, Zanell laughs, but mom and dad couldn’t be more thrilled. Everything worked out perfectly in the end, with the kids slotting in effortlessly. Christmases are spent in Stilbaai, at the family holiday home. The clan gathers and goes big with food and kuiering. “We love drinking wine and being social,” she says.
Zanell enjoys cooking, but admits Stephan might be the main chef in the family. “I’m not bad and like trying out new things, but to him, it’s instinctive,” she says. Date nights are for eating out, with Turn ‘n Tender at Crossing Centre as their absolute favourite. She admits many of her past-times, like reading or going to the movies, are currently on the back-burner as the boys take up a chunk her time, but wouldn’t change it for the world. Joining friends on a game farm and spending days doing bird watching is the height of excitement. “We have a good life,” she says. “Everything is chilled, we both work just down the road… life is good!”
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