Goodbye sweet beautiful girl <3

I remember as clear as day the evening our precious little girl showed herself to me in Mauritius.  I was cooking dinner and she walked in from the patio and meow’ed hello.  I went down on my haunches, extended a finger and she immediately walked over and sat on my lap and never left it since.  She sat on my lap every day while I ate breakfast and while I sat at the computer and she slept, if not on me, next to me every night – under the covers in winter.  Poor island girl really felt the cold.  

Recently, she seemed a little flat; I initially put it down to the cold weather and she seemed happy snuggling and sleeping in her blankie.  Then I smelt a strange smell on her breathe and realised she was sick.

Pete was home and he too noticed the small changes in her.  A week later we took her to the vet who diagnosed her as having tick bite fever and feline aids.  It was a terrible shock but her prognosis seemed very positive.  We immediately started her on medication and special immune boosting food.

For 2 weeks we went to the vet if not every day, every other day.  They saw a lot of fight left in her and continued to inject her with antibiotics, liver support and saline.  I was now feeding and watering her every 4 hours using a syringe with small amounts of food and immune building muti as she was too weak to eat on her own, even though she desperately tried to, bless her little heart. Most times, we made it outside in time for a tinkle then she was too weak to even attempt to go outside.

The last 48 hours of her precious life were horrific as she was crying out in pain, battling to get sufficient oxygen and fitting.  I couldn’t bare seeing her suffer so.  It has been the most traumatic thing to endure and there was nothing I could do to help her or stop the gut wrenching pain!  I kept telling her how much I loved her and it was okay to let go, to go peacefully, to be pain free and I would be with her and hold her until the end. I did.

Rest gently sweet beautiful girl, you were very loved and the most wonderful dear companion I could ask for.  I miss you desperately and home is incomplete without you.  I love you. ❤

Crème Brûlée

Whilst I have always been thrilled with my Crème Brûlée recipe, I am always happy to find an excuse to try a new recipe and when I saw this gloriously simple one over at Giovanna’s  I knew it wouldn’t be long before I found a reason to try it.

This is also one of those wonderful desserts you can prepare the day before needed.

Crème Brûlée

As seen at:  Blue Jelly Beans

Ingredients

6 egg yolks
3 or 4 Tbsp sugar – I used 3 caster sugar
1 vanilla pod or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or natural essence
600ml cream
4 Tbsp brown sugar – I used caster sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C.
  2. Beat  the yolks and sugar in a large bowl until creamy and light in colour.  I used electric beaters whilst Giovanna recommended using  a wooden spoon to prevent air bubbles while baking.
  3. Heat the vanilla and cream until before boiling point.  Remove from the heat and slowly add to the egg mixture, stirring continuously.
  4. Divide the mixture between 8 ramekins (You could also strain the mixture before pouring into the ramekins to prevent excess air bubbles) and place inside a baking tray and add boiling water until it reaches half way up the ramekins.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes until the custard sets.
  6. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. When ready to serve, sprinkle castor sugar over each custard and caramelise using a blowtorch or by placing them under the grill.

The Unthinkable

If like me you are a sensitive animal lover, this is not an easy read.

It was a happy day.  I was counting down the sleeps until Pete would be home and had baked birthday cupcakes for my Aunt and Uncle for their birthdays.  I opened the garage and packed the boot ready to head down the road to the folks and my aunt and uncle to celebrate.  Pulled out the garage and hit the remote to close it, set the alarm and another click to open the gate behind me.

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I reversed and realised something was not right.  Reverse a little more and there laying in the driveway was my girly in pain, suffering because I had reversed the car over her.  I screamed and flew out of the car.  I sat next to her – what have I done!  I went hysterical all the while calling Pete, my folks and trying to get hold of our vet.  What have I done.  This is inconceivable!  This can’t be real.

I did not see her while packing the boot.  How could I not see her if she was laying sleeping on the driveway.  How did I not see her in the reverse camera of the car.  How did the sensors not pick her up!  How could this even be a possibility!

The dear old thing is somewhere between 18 and 19 years old and is mostly deaf, her muscle mass has withered away and for the most part has no voice to meow either although she has the faintest of purrs and even though she tries really hard, misses her litter tray sometimes.  She can’t always get onto the bed either and now this!  I am in a state of complete and utter disbelief trying not to vomit from shock and disgust with myself.

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The vet (not ours – he was too far away so the folks raced me to the nearest one) – I did not like him, told me to stop shouting at him!  What’s wrong with this man.  Can he not see I am hysterical and in distress from what has happened!  He assessed Tree (Pete named her Tree as he found her in a tree in the garden) and said her injuries weren’t as bad as they looked – the looked awful, they still haunt me but considering her age and fragile state, he felt the best option would be to let her go but was happy to operate if her little body could take the 2 hour operation after which would be a tough recovery and rehabilitation.  It was all a blur although I had a moments reprieve when he said her injuries weren’t as bad as they looked and asked him to ring Pete in Kenya to please explain all he had just explained to me and the folks.

The hardest decision of life was made and I sat and held onto her as the vet injected her.  She went so peacefully while I screamed and cried uncontrollably.  I brought her home and buried her under a yellow wood tree.  I sit and talk with her and ask her to forgive the indescribable thing I have done.  I am battling to live with the guilt and pain and hope by sharing this will fill me with some peace and solace.

I have the most incredible family and friends who are all telling me how it was all just a horrible accident and how I could never do anything to hurt any animal.  I know that logically but emotionally I am completely broken, shattered and sick to my stomach.

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I hope I will one day be able to forgive myself for what I have done and be able to get the image out of my mind of my girly laying on the driveway.  It kills me!  It is in my mind all day.  Pete has taught me as soon as the image comes into my head to immediately replace it with another one of Tree, a happy love filled image of her.  It helps.

Girly, I am so incredibly sorry for what I have done.  I am broken and sick over what happened.  I am always so careful.  I have no idea how something like this could have happened.  Please forgive me sweet darling Tree.  I love you.

Milk Tart (Melktert)

Good old fashioned comforting childhood memories wouldn’t be complete without milk tart.  Fabulous – well, until I had to make 3 different variations to find what I was happy with.  Childhood memories aren’t always that easy to recreate.  Not that the first two attempts weren’t nice, they just weren’t what I wanted.  They lacked the silky smooth texture I craved.  Also, most recipes make two tarts and I only wanted to make one plus I found baking the tart higher than 180°C caused it to crack.  Round three was perfect.

milk-tart

Milk Tart (Melktert)

Ingredients

For the Pastry

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs sugar
1 egg
¾ cup self raising flour
¼ tsp salt

For the Tart

2 cups milk
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs well beaten
Ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Blitz all the pastry ingredients together in a food processor until they resemble crumbs and spread evenly and press in a 24cm pie dish.
    (The crust can be refrigerated while preparing the tart but I don’t bother)
  3. Heat the milk to just before boiling.
  4. While the milk is heating, combine the sugar, flour and salt together.
  5. Gradually add the heated milk to the dry ingredients and return to the heat.
  6. Cook slowly while stirring until the mixture thickens.
  7. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla.
  8. Cool the mixture slightly and stir through the beaten egg and pour into the pastry crust.
  9. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  The center will still be slightly soft and wobbly.
  10. Cool and try only eat one slice. 🙂

Such is Life

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Our beautiful Sundays River

We chose to live where we do for the tranquil quality we appreciate and treasure –  to be on the doorstep of a National Park, River and Beach which for a large part are unscathed by man.  City life is just not our speed.

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King of the jungle in Addo National Elephant Park

We respect our environment and care for it as much as we can and help annually with a river and beach clean up which incorporates educating the local youth about the importance of reducing, re-using and recycling as well as being part of a team of committed folk who donate food, clothing and the like plus our time once a month to distribute these goods to the youngsters who bring plastic containers and tins to school for recycling further helping to keep our environment clean and encouraging them to be proud of where they live.

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There is also my involvement as Chair for our Community Police Forum and Neighbourhood Watch initiatives which boils down to a semi full time job sans remuneration but makes me no less committed.  My resolve is occasionally tested though, as a curve ball gets thrown our way and we have to endure unnecessary stress of people violating our rights by holding illegal protests and burning vehicles which throes me into endless texting and phone calls to determine who, what, when, how and why all the while trying to reassure a village we are safe.

Kinkelbos CPF Logo               NHW logo

It is a harsh reminder of how volatile life can be.  We enjoy the comfort of our daily lives and then in a heartbeat it changes.  I don’t believe we are unique by any means, we just feel it more being such a small community.

Then everything settles and returns to normal and just as I breathe a sigh of relief, the next hurdle gets put in front me to test my resolve  with the news of scary things, things I don’t know how to comprehend or how to deal with so I throw myself at the internet trying desperately to find answers.

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South Africa’s National flower – the protea

Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and was quickly in surgery to remove his left kidney.  Test results were positive, all the cancer was removed with the kidney, then quickly comes the news of lung cancer.  I have truly never experienced anything as traumatic and scary in my 43 years.  I have never felt such pain.  Deep! Right to my core.  Daddy is both mentally and physically strong and at 73 has never been sick or seen the inside of a hospital  for anything other than visiting someone else.  I can’t begin to comprehend what he and Mommy have felt through all of this.  They are remarkable and nothing will get them down, nothing!  Dad’s positive attitude has been inspiring to see.  We are in the midst of Dad’s treatment and believe he is already cancer free.  Believe it with us, and if you can, please light a candle for Daddy, he is a special man who deserves all the love in the world.

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Love, love, love. Mom, Me, Pete and Dad at a recent ruby match. SA VS Ireland – Ireland played a better game but we won in the end

During the same time as finding out about Dad’s cancer, my cousin was involved in a motorcycle accident, which resulted in his left leg being amputated.  What a remarkable young man – his attitude, like Dad’s  is awe inspiring and his being able to get back up and at em is wonderful to see.

My family has been tested the past while, not about how much we love each other and how we all stand strong together but how much we can actually deal with all the while still smiling. ♥

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I saw this recipe over at Passion Fruit Garden and if Glenda says its a winner then it is a must try.  Thanks Glenda, we thoroughly enjoyed this lovely cake, although think it would be as lovely without the syrup over the top.

Lemon drizzle cake 1

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

Cake

125g butter
Zest of 2 lemons
1¼ cups caster sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup natural yogurt
1¼ cups flour
1½ tsp baking powder

Syrup

¼ cup sugar
Zest of one lemon
⅛ cup lemon juice

Optional:  Powdered sugar for decorating

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Line the bottom of a 20-22 cm cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter.
  3. Cream the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
  5. Add the lemon juice and yogurt and mix well.
  6. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the main mixture – lightly mix together.
  7. Place batter into the prepared tin.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is firm to touch.
  9. Meanwhile, combine the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar.
  10. When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven, allow to sit for couple of minutes and transfer to a serving plate.
  11. Whilst the cake is still warm,  pour the syrup evenly over it.
  12. Once completely cooled, sprinkle with powered sugar.

Lemon drizzle cake 2

Custard Cake Slices

This is a wonderful light dessert for after a heavy winters meal or lovely addition to the table at a shower or tea.

Custart Cake Slices

Custard Cake

Ingredients

4 eggs separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g butter melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk lukewarm
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Grease an 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.
  4. Beat the egg yolks & sugar until light.
  5. Add the butter and vanilla and beat for two minutes.
  6. Add the flour and incorporate.
  7. Slowly add the milk and beat in.
  8. Fold in the egg whites, a third at a time.
  9. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for ± 60 minutes or until the top is lightly golden.
  10. Once cooled, cut into slices (or rounds) and  dust with powdered sugar.

Nairobi National Park, Kenya

I was recently in Nairobi with Pete and while there he took me to the Nairobi National Park.  What an incredibly beautiful park!  It is located just 5 miles from the city and is the only protected area in the world with wildlife in the city.

It was exciting to see animals we don’t get in Addo National Elephant park, like one of my all time favourites, the giraffe.  They are such majestic animals.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Nairobi, Kenya, I highly recommend you make the time to visit the National park.

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Nairobi NP May 2016 9 Nairobi NP May 2016 21 Nairobi NP May 2016 23 Nairobi NP May 2016 30 Nairobi NP May 2016 35 Nairobi NP May 2016 41 Nairobi NP May 2016 58 Nairobi NP May 2016 89 Nairobi NP May 2016 138 Nairobi NP May 2016 150 Nairobi NP May 2016 180 Nairobi NP May 2016 207 Nairobi NP May 2016 215 Nairobi NP May 2016 236 Nairobi NP May 2016 238 Nairobi NP May 2016 310 Nairobi NP May 2016 338 Nairobi NP May 2016 346 Nairobi NP May 2016 432

Where I Write From

Our dear Celi over at The Kitchens Garden, has revived the getting to know each other a wee bit by asking us to share where we write from.  C said not tiding up before snapping the shot.

For the most part I am neat and tidy but looking at the pic, I see loads I could have in better order.

Where I write from

An abridged version of my little office

We would all love to see where you write from.  Take a quick snapshot, remember no tiding up and share it with us by linking back to Celi’s post Where I write.

Pear and Almond Cake with Almond Crunch Topping

The name alone caught my attention when I saw this recipe from the online Delicious Magazine, and then the use of sour cream and nutmeg.  When friends invited us over for dinner I offered to bring dessert so I could try this delicious cake.  I was quite skeptical once I read the length of baking time but it was absolutely perfect and so very moreish. I will definitely serve this regularly and is the perfect Christmas dinner dessert.

Pear Almond Cake 3

Pear and Almond Cake with Almond Crunch Topping

Ingredients

  • 175g softened butter
  • 150g Billington’s Golden Caster Sugar – I used regular caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract – I used essence
  • 2 medium eggs – I used extra large 
  • 220g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 140ml soured cream
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 firm pears, such as Comice
  • A little lemon juice

For the almond crunch topping

  • 50g butter
  • 50g Billington’s Light Muscovado Sugar – I used demerara sugar
  • 2 tbsp double cream – I used normal cream
  • 75g flaked or slivered almonds

Pear Almond Cake 4

 Method

  1. Line a 20cm springform tin with non-stick baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with the second egg. Sift the remaining flour, a pinch of salt, bicarbonate of soda and the nutmeg together. Fold half the flour into the creamed mixture. Fold in the soured cream, zest and almonds, then the remaining flour.
  3. Peel, core and slice the pears. Toss with lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Spread half of the cake mixture over the base of the tin, cover with the pears, then the remaining cake mixture. Bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the almond topping. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the sugar and cream, then stir in the almonds.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the almond mixture evenly over the top. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is toffee-coloured and a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake. Remove and serve warm or cold.

Lack of Running

Don’t go for a run for 3 weeks and BAM you are back to being a lump whose body says forget it, I am not going to do this! 😦  Needless to say a lot more cycling has been happening with not much running.

Then, new shoes.  We got lucky with a pair of Asics which were R600 (± USD $42.50) cheaper purely because they are in last years colours!  No improvement to the shoe, just a change in colour.

Asics runners

It is taking a while getting used to these runners too; the balls of my feet burn like they are on fire and my toes get pins and needles so not much fun when I am already battling to breathe, and still trying to enjoy my run.

On the upside, I have started weight training with Pete.  Its what us “getting older” folk are meant to do I believe.  Got to keep the muscle tone, or in my case, built it. 😀

Here’s to keeping it all up over the holidays!

Carrot, Apple & Date Overnight Muffins

These delicious muffins smell just like Christmas should and are prepared a day in advance.  The mixture needs to stand in the fridge overnight so this is a perfect recipe if you want something freshly baked in the morning without all the hassle of making a mess.  This is a modified version of my aunts Must Make Muffins and doubles perfectly.

Carrot, Apple & Date Overnight Muffins

Carrot, Apple & Date Muffins

Ingredients

200ml nutty wheat flour
125ml  bran
125ml oats
7.5ml bicarbonate of soda
5ml cinnamon
5ml ginger
5ml nutmeg
2.5ml salt
250ml chopped dates
250ml grated apple
125ml grated carrot
1 eggs
10ml vanilla essence
30ml oil
250ml milk

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Stir the ingredients and divide between 12 muffin tins lined with paper cases.
  4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Spring Garden

Seems the weather hasn’t quite decided if it is Spring yet.  We have had a few splashes of sun here and there with loads of rain and horrible gale winds.  It hasn’t dampened my excitement with getting going in the garden, although some of the seed I have planted may have blown or been washed into the neighbours garden – might have to fetch my veggies there once they grow. 🙂

You may remember the gent I bought our garden bench from a while ago.  I couldn’t help myself and bought this sweet bridge from him a couple of weeks back.  It only cost R200 (± USD $14.48).

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The veggie patch is doing well and our cauliflowers are coming along really nicely.

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The spinach has also grown in leaps and bounds.  I shall have to enjoy it soon before the garden critters finish it.

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The mini cabbages are also doing well after being thinned out.

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I planted pumpkin seed which shot up out of the ground a couple of days after planting – they will be thinned out soon too.

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Pumpkins for Africa!

Also new to the garden is zucchini – I am thrilled at how healthy they are looking.

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Not wanting to worry about stakes and the like, I planted bush beans.

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Naturally no garden would be complete without dill and coriander so they were planted too.

IMG_8139I have added a few more things: butternut, sweetcorn, lettuce, rhubarb, carrots, capsicums, parsley, thyme and lavender.  I am sure I have forgotten something in this list.

Our loquats are all ripening but seems the birds are beating us to them all.IMG_7651And passers by are all picking our lemons off the tree before we can.  IMG_8064

At least our peaches are hidden away and hopefully will be worm free again this year.

IMG_7620Now I patiently await our figs.

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In My Kitchen – October 2015

As always a big thank you to our friend Celia for bringing us all together each month with these fun IMK posts. 🙂

In my kitchen…

Were some sticky chicken wings – haven’t had them in a while and they were fabulous.

In my kitchen…

Is a quinoa salad, always such a wonderful taste explosion.

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In my kitchen…

Was some scrumptious macaroni and cheese, unbaked, my lazy way of making it.

In my kitchen…

Is a bottle of Amarula, a gift from my brother Greg and his wife Karin.  I can see getting rid of my winter weight will have to wait a while longer. 🙂

Amarula

In my kitchen…

Is a beautiful gift from Greg and Karin’s children, Tom and Anne.  A decorative whisk.

Decorative whisk

What’s in your kitchen this month?

Please remember to link back to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial if you partake in the fun and drop her a quick note to let her know when your post will be up and please note Celia needs all IMK posts submitted by the 10th of every month.

Sundays River Trash Bash 2015

September 19th marked the annual Internal Coastal Clean Up Day supported by over 90 countries worldwide.  How awesome is that!

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I have not been part of the fun the past couple of years as it falls on the same weekend each year as a niece’s birthday in Plettenberg Bay.

I was happy to be part of the volunteer team again this year.

TRASH BASH 2015

As with all years, there are donations from our community and sponsorship from various companies including The Waste Trade Company, General Motors South Africa, Colchester KwikSpar, Algoa Plastics, PPC Cement and many more.

I was amazed at the wonderful sponsorship and donations this year, affording the kids incredible goody bags and wonderful prizes – it was extremely heart warming.

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Goody bags were filled with so many wonderful things

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There were 150 local kiddies (mostly from Colchester primary school) who participated in the day which started with homemade soup, rolls and apples at registration after collecting their t-shirts.

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Fuelling up before trash bashing

Before everyone set out on picking up what others have carelessly discarded, The Waste Trade Company’s representative Emmy Nxayeka  gave a fabulously enthusiastic and all important environmental talk emphasising the importance of the three R’s:-

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“In order to drive environmental change we need to start by educating our youth,” Kay Hardy, general manager of The Waste Trade Company.

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Learning how to care for our environment

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Much excitement to go on the river

The day ended with boerewors (sausage) rolls and cake as well as the much anticipated prize giving.  The children get so excited wondering if they could possibility be the only boy and the only girl to win a bicycle.  Before the final draw for the bicycles, there were 40 other great prizes including backpacks, food hampers and grocery gift vouchers.

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The boys bike is donated by Colchester Spar and the girls bike by PPC Cement

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Lots of lovely prizes

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640kg of trash was collected over 2 hours

The Incremental Photographer Course

My dear friend Moira, who blogs over at Moi du Toi Photography is a phenomenal photographer and she has just recently launched her Incremental Photographer course which is SO much more than any other course out there.  Moira is your personal mentor, guiding you through mastering shooting in manual.

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The course is for anyone who owns a DSLR camera and wishes to improve their photography and will provide you with a solid foundation with which to begin your photographic journey.

During the course, Moira will guide you through the process of shooting in Manual Mode and teach you how to juggle Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO to create properly exposed images, the art of Composition and how to use Natural Light at any time of the day to produce beautiful photographs.

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Thanks to Moira, I was able to capture this incredible photograph

Over the 5 week course, you will receive assignments to be completed and Moira will do personal assessments for you with weekly video critiques.

Moira is currently running a special launch price of just USD $69.99 and there are only 10 places available to anyone worldwide so contact Moira today, you will be glad you did.  Class starts in 2 weeks.  I learnt so much and had so much fun doing the course until as you all know, my camera fell and died.

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The word photography stems from two ancient Greek words: photo, for “light”, and graph, for “drawing”.
I look forward to teaching you how to draw with light.

Contact Moira to sign up for her incredible 5 week course via her Launch Page or her facebook page.

Nairobi, Kenya

On leaving the airport en route to the hotel (the same one Obama stayed in a week earlier) I caught site of no less than 8 giraffe in the Nairobi National Park which borders the city – only one in the world I believe.  I learnt later that it costs USD 50 (±ZAR 650) per person to get into the national park – madness!

Kenya

The hotel, Kempinski, Villa Rosa – pure opulence – pucker 5 star!  Thousands of roses everywhere!  The room heavenly; including gown and slippers and for those inclined an iron and ironing board – not doing any of that while I am visiting, even an umbrella! 3 telephones to boot – heaven forbid you have to move to answer the phone. 🙂

Kempinski

As we always do on our first evening away, we ordered room service.  Well!  Room service has never been this good, the dining table which was rolled into the room even had a fresh rose with our dinns staying warm in the warming drawer underneath the tray.  Pete ordered a hamburger and I ordered the green thai curry.  Both were outstanding – restaurant quality.  I could get used to 7 days a week room service, especially when you eat in your housecoat and slippers. 🙂

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The cloakrooms in the gym have a hot spa bath, sauna room and sauna and all the conveniences available for your convenience, even down to slip slops and individually packaged combs and shaving kits.  It was quite cool running in the same gym where Obama did his workouts for a couple of days.

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Cool down walk after a 4km run

The second nights sleep was non existent.  We arrived on a Sunday so guess traffic was at its quietest.  Not so for the remaining part of the week.  24 hour seriously noisy seemingly permanent peek hour traffic and you can’t get away from it being in the city.  I was later told the roads are never quiet.  Might explain why they are in such bad condition.

We went to the Westgate Mall which has just reopened after the 4 day terrorist attack and bombing 2 years ago.  It was quite surreal being there after watching the horror on the telly.  So sad what happens in our world every day.

More seriously, our trip was a look-see about the possibility of a move to Nairobi for a couple of years for Pete to head up the start up of a sister company as he did when we lived in Mauritius.  Pete was given a housing allowance which clearly was extremely unrealistic,  he then doubled it and off we went to the estate agents.  Haa.  Well that budget didn’t turn up anything particularly worthwhile either, plus everything in the budget amount is unfurnished.  It is frightfully expensive to live in the city and close surrounds with neighbours right on top of you, a garden, even teeny tiny is a luxury and majority of the buildings are very old, think 70’s with lots of layers of lacquered paint and parquet flooring and avo or pink bathrooms.  We shall take our time until the right place comes along if it must and I shall have to get used to a non village, no space and little freedom.  I have put a spreadsheet together of the costs involved in living in Kenya and it is extremely expensive from start to finish!  We could live palatially for the same cost here at home!

Nairobi in a nutshell – like all other African countries, the city is loud, dirty, busy with drivers hell-bent on going as fast and as dangerously as they can on roads which are in dire need of repair and everything is scarily expensive.  I will say though, they are not aggressive like our local drivers.  The people are lovely and friendly and the further you go out of the city, the more beautiful it becomes.  My favourite was the makeshift nurseries on the side of the road – wish I could have taken a photo.

All the museums and the like are also expensive to visit but guess majority of the tourists are coming from first world countries so doesn’t dent their pockets like it does ours.  As a lot of you know, I always joke and say I want a giraffe and a squirrel to complete our family so Pete took me to the Giraffe Orphanage in Karen and I got to feed a lovely fellow named Eddy.  I am not one for animals in captivity but there is sometimes the need as with the Giraffe Centre, which was established to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe.

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I want to bring Eddy the Giraffe home with me

Kenya Giraffe Centre

We also visited the Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) Museum which I loved.  What a life she lived!  It was wonderful being able to put my hands on her very bed and jewellery cabinet amongst other goodies which she sold to a friend, Lady McMillan after the farm went bankrupt and was later retrieved from the library the friend donated it to.  Sadly you aren’t allowed to take photo’s inside the house.  Apologies about the quality of the (phone) photos but my camera died when it fell out of my camera bag.  I am still sick to my stomach about it and not ready to talk about it. 😦

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Addo, Addo, Addo

I hope you don’t tire of me sharing our trips with you from our visits into Addo.  We truly are in a special part of the world to be able to see these magnificent animals any day of the week when Pete is home.

Can you believe 3 cheetah broke into the park and they have certainly made themselves at home and we finally saw them.

A quick cheetah lesson:

♥ Male cheetahs (usually brothers) form coalitions while females remain solitary.

♥ Cheetahs weight ranges between 21 – 72 kilograms but average around 60kg.

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♥ The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world reaching speeds of up to 110km/h and can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 3 seconds and a single stride can cover about 7.6 meters.  Only one paw touches the ground at any one time during a sprint.

♥ The Cheetah’s claws are semi-retractable enabling them to grip the ground helping them accelerate as they run.

♥ Their long tail acts as a rudder and helps to maintain their balance while chasing prey.

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♥ A cheetah has amazing eyesight during the day and can spot prey from 5 km away.

♥ Cheetahs have black stripes running from the corners of their eyes down to the corner of their mouth. These help block out sunlight, which helps them in spotting prey.

♥ Cheetahs communicate through a series of chirps, barks and hisses.

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Life isn’t always as I would like it to be either and one of the lioness (Josie) met with a bit of a feisty warthog who before becoming dinner left a lasting impression on her.  I was hoping to see her 3 cubs but alas, they were well hidden.  Don’t think mom was feeling all to well either as she flopped about every few steps before settling behind a bush to rest.

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Ouch!

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Please let me be while I quietly heal

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Let me tell you a secret…

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Just for Anna 🙂

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Kisses

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Tasty

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Winter Garden Update

I know I recently shared our garden with you but there have been a few changes since then so for your viewing pleasure (before it starts raining again)…

I could not resit this bench when I saw it for sale down the road from home.  The gentleman selling the furniture fell on hard times and refurbishes and recycles wooden palettes to earn an income.  He lives a very frugal life without electricity and running water and has the most love I have ever seen for his dog and cat.  They are his entire life.  I did not realise until I stopped to make enquiry about the bench that he has the most beautiful fully indigenous garden with veggie patches dotted all around.  Best R350 (± USD $28) I have ever spent on anything.  He even refurbishes the nails before re-using them to make his furniture.

Garden July 2015 3 Rummaging through our leaky old corner back shed I found a piece of sleeper gifted to Pete from our previous neighbours son about a zillion years ago and decided its time to get out into the garden and one can never have too much seating so another bench was made. The cats love this and I often find them sunning themselves on one of the corners while watching over the garden..Garden July 2015 1

From the leaky shed into the wendy house which holds an untold amount of boxes and other storage bits and bobs plus an outdated old satellite dish which I converted into a much wanted bird bath.  Waste not want not I say.  My dad said it should be blue but I thought green blended so much better with the garden.  A few birdies have visited but none I have yet been able to capture on camera.Garden July 2015 2

Going back to the leaky shed, hanging up in a corner was a small ladder which was looking worse for ware so out it came and a quick refurbishment and placed outside our bedroom door with a few potted veld plants and its as pretty as a picture.Garden July 2015 8

On the backside of our bedroom is a strip that never gets any sun and always has a muddy slope of soil so it was morning of laying some unused bricks to make a walk way.  Can’t believe it took me this long to do!Garden July 2015 7

Amongst the unused bits and bobs was a number of pots and bowls which I have started displaying around the garden.  There are a few more to come.  I will take some updated shots as soon as I have been back into the veld for more plants. Garden July 2015 4 Speaking of being in the veld, just over the road from our home is a huge amount of mother in laws tongue which I have potted and standing in a makeshift nursery in front of Pete’s workshop.Garden July 2015 5

After cleaning out the pots outside the front door, it dawned on me we have not had lavender in our garden for the longest time so I had to succumb to spending a little cash on a beautiful lavender bush which I am not able to find in the veld. 🙂Garden July 2015 22

Always at the ready to lend a hand is my beautiful boy who has an incredible knack of bumping me off my feet more often than not when I am trying to take a photo – there are loads of blurry shots in amongst the few I manage to salvage.Garden July 2015 21 On the backside of our lapa is a long bare wall so  a narrow bed was made with a variation of 2 flowering bushes – one is a yellow daisy of sorts and the other is a blue/purple spur something or another.  I am never very good at remembering names of plants.Garden July 2015 20

I hope its not too late but I finally planted last years sweet pea seeds – I saved just the violet colour ones.  Can’t wait for the fragrant flowers for vases throughout the house come Spring.Garden July 2015 6 All things going well, we will have some tasty cauliflowers – I have no idea how long they take to grow but the plants are looking very healthy. 🙂Garden July 2015 16

There is also some healthy happy looking spinach.
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Seems we will also have some mini cabbages at some stage – think I will have to thin this bed soon.Garden July 2015 9 - Copy

And finally is a pot that nearly broke my back.  Our lovely neighbours were kind enough to gift the pot but it was up to me to get it over the wall and obviously I could not wait for help and had to get it over myself.  Not sure if it was the coat of paint or all the rain which has left one of the plants looking a little worse for ware. Hopefully a little TLC will get it all perky again otherwise out it comes.
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How is your winter garden or summer garden if you are in the northern parts of the world?

Emma’s Ellies

The lovely Emma over at Surrey Kitchen asked if I would do a guest post on her favourite animal, the elephant and even though she has visited South Africa, she never got to see any babies so I set out to share as many babies as I could find in our park in the Eastern Cape; Addo Elephant National Park.

Do pop over to Emma’s Ellies to see a few adorable pics of some baby ellies and some fun facts too.