Sunday, 28 July 2013

since you've been gone again

The Hub and I have been having a bit of a hard time. My precious Granny Mary died and then just over a month later, Nic's precious Granny Dot was admitted to hospital. She died a week and a half later after days of uncertainty and agony and waiting for the phone to ring. It was hell.

On the other hand, we knew she was going to Heaven to be with God. I have found that to be an enormous comfort in these times. As did seeing a memorial service packed to the rafters with people she touched. She lived a life of giving and loving and magical baking. This is Granny Dot and Oupie (Nic's grandfather) taking full opportunity of the photobooth at our wedding, I love this picture.

For both Nic and I these have been the hardest losses we've had to face so far in life. Losing a grandparent can be so hard, because often they have been suffering or had a poor quality of life, so their moving on is a blessing. At the same time, it's a crushing loss of childhood. But good can come out of the loss. 
We got home one day last week to find two lilies on the coffee table with a beautiful note. They were from our neighbours, in sympathy. The kindness of people! It reminded me that no matter how bleak the world may seem, there will always ALWAYS be kind people around to pick you up.

Thank you Granny Dot, for showing us our blessings and for being such a blessing.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

dog a l'orange

I went on a business trip to PE for 3 days and came back to my little family with a cold, that turned to sinusitis, that turned to bronchitis. In ONE day. Enter bullet sized antibiotics and barking like a dog all night and keeping the poor Hub awake. Some of these bugs are scary.

Luckily I had this Madame for company while confined to my bed.

Isn't she beautiful?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

exploding wedding cake

I came across this nifty idea on one of my many trawls of the Webiverse. An explosion service by "trained explosives technicians" for your wedding cake. Seriously. 

So perhaps you're the bride and you've had a little sneaky taste and it is a pretty cake but dry and you decide to cover your guests in it. This guy in Australia got the beating of his life for exploding the wedding cake all over the bride. Watch the video. Hilarious. You'd better have a cake matching your wedding dress...rainbow cake on a white dress? Nah uh.

The mad people who offer this service, Bompas and Parr, are also master jelly creators. How are THESE instead of a wedding cake, I mean wedding jelly? Wedding jellies?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

don't forget the small stuff

We have all been brainwashed enough by dear Oprah into not sweating the small stuff (from this book by Richard Carlson). And a lot of the ideology makes sense: don't stress yourself into oblivion over taxi drivers who cut you off in traffic, flyovers that take three years to build, the way the pool turns green after one day of rain, the way some people think farting in a queue at Clicks is socially acceptable. Especially in South Africa, we deal with a lot of everyday frustrations that come with living in a 1/3 first world, 2/3 third world country.

Lately I've been thinking that I don't put enough emphasis on the small stuff in my life. The wonderful little things that go unnoticed in my effort to "not sweat the (bad, annoying) small stuff". It's easier to think of the big things, like being happily married and owning our own home and going to an awesome church. The small blessings are a little harder:

1. we have a pool (see above for the consistent moaning I am trying to avoid)
2. when I crunched my big toe on the paving outside, my two soft and furry dogs licked away my tears
3. my mint grew back after some weird black fungus killed it off (couscous salad anyone?)
4. I haven't ironed a stitch of clothing in nearly two years (Sibongile, our housekeeper, is a saint and I would be a complete, dirty nutter without her)
5. this morning I saw a pair of loeries in my garden
6. the contacts solution ran out, and we had a spare in the bathroom cupboard (lesson: always buy two of these things, else you WILL be wearing your glasses on a mountain bike ride)
7. my husband not only knows a killer flapjack recipe off by heart, he loves making them for me
8. Kim and Kanye named their child North West. Laughing for days. Let the other silly naming commence, NO-ONE can beat that one
9. this worship song...Oh happy days!
10. Panda put her mean cat tendencies aside and cuddled up to Chloe in front of the gas heater. I have no words for the cuteness.


The quote above is from here. The photo-quote is all mine - don't you just love a beautiful blue African sky?

Monday, 15 July 2013

chick lit is cool, haven't you heard?

Hi, my name is Kate and I read chick lit*. I promise I am intelligent.

Today I went to one of my favourite spots, the second hand bookshop. There is a very friendly old dude there with a face like a Saint Bernard. I picked up these two pink and yellow and shiny beacons of escapism. 

Can everyone just get over all the bashing of soft-hearted stories about love and Louis Vuitton handbags and watching movies where impossibly put-together women meet impossibly gorgeous men on aeroplanes and then live happily ever after? Please? It's escapism. And, the Lord knows, I need me some escapism. It doesn't mean I am unintelligent. Maybe uncool, but I can live with that (Dear Cool Kids, you know Nerd is the new cool right? That's why men are wearing burgundy corduroys and girls are wearing combat boots).

I also follow Marian Keyes on twitter. She is certifiable. But I love 'er. I learnt a whole new language of eejits and oxters and Mammy's from her books. I think I'm close to being Honourable Irish from all the reading. And, although Lewis Pugh is way too hunky to qualify as chick lit, you will see his book in there. The bit about how he has to put a thermometer in his rear-end to make sure he doesn't die is QUITE hectic. 

Oh and I love biographies. But not ones of World War veterans or people who have survived pirates. Don't start thinking I'm all serious and not taking my own advice. Stephen Fry is one of my favourites. He's also certifiable. I wonder why I feel so at home among these people? Mmmm...

I guess what I'm saying is: GET READING. Anything! You will be amazed at what you learn and who you meet.

*In case you don't know, chick lit is an all-encompassing term for books (or literature, hence LIT) written by women for women (hence CHICK). Usually on the lighter side, not all doom and gloom and Angela's Ashes.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

making focaccia fun (just add gin)

What do you for fun?

When I was 19 - go to Tin Roof and drink 5 tequila shots in a row
When I was 22 - go to Tiger Tiger and drink 5 tequila shots in a row
When I was 25 - go out for dinner to Piza Vino and drink 1 Apple Martini

Are we sensing a pattern here? But now that I'm 27 and married and stuff, I am onto the gin and tonics and COOKING at HOME. Amazing. Who knows what I'll be doing in 3 years? Probably mooshing up bananas and butternut with baby poo under my fingernails. Ick.

When I am 27 - make focaccia from scratch and drink freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice (OK...with gin in it, but still).

The Hub and I sat and ate half of it in one go. Just like that with butter. Do not get me started on the evils of margarine/one molecule away from a Checkers packet. And we wonder why they say happily married folk just sit and eat all the pies! We would have eaten the whole thing, but I had the foresight to chop it in half and pop it in the freezer. My arms were so stiff the next day from the whole kneading and rolling lark. Good grief.

The recipe is from Jamie Oliver's Home Cooking Skills. I won't put the whole thing up here because it's VERRRY long and off putting. But worth it. And man am I proud of how similar it looks to the picture of Jamie's one. Which is a testament to my cooking skills...ahem...his excellent recipe.

So what are we cooking next weekend? It better be something healthy else they are going to have to pull Nic and I out of our house with a winch.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

since you've been gone

It's been one month since my Gran died. She was not an ordinary Gran, she was glamourous and cheeky and had a few secrets we will never know. Growing up it often felt like she was the only one who understood me. I think about her every day, and just know she's up in Heaven with her "bridge pals" and God. Probably looking down at me and wishing she could show me that she's still having a good time. Even in the afterlife.

Here is why my Granny was so special:

- she met my Grandfather in a mens only pub. She didn't care for silly rules
- while most Granny's are good at chocolate cake, her speciality was Almond Gateaux. On a WHOLE another level people
- her comment about living in England during World War II: "Kate, it was awfully boring. There were no men."
- she was named after her mother Ethel May. Yep, Ethel. Up there with Doris and Hortense and Bertha
- And if you called her Ethel, she would ignore you. Or beat you with her handbag. She went by Mary (her second name)
- she sustained herself on a diet mostly of KitKats, bananas, Weetbix and gin. With no heart problems, no cancer, and skinny as a rake
- she believed in quality over quantity. Especially in her clothes. I have a tweed blazer of hers that must be 50 years old and still wears beautifully
- she abhorred the use of "foul" language, and even going to the loo (see, I can't even say the word TOILET when I think of her) was called Spending a Penny

04.02.22 - 09.06.13
A life well lived with grace and poise and kindness.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

happy post

I love getting that little card in the postbox that says I have a package at the Post Office. How exciting! I start imagining that someone accidentally ordered a pair of Jimmy Choos to my home address or it's a lifetime supply of Lindt chocolate that someone won in a radio competition or, if I'm feeling more realistic, a letter from my Dad saying he is secretly an American spy and this is evidence I am to send to Wikileaks. I have quite an active imagination.

This time though, I suspected it was something pretty from someone lovely and talented friend Tam.

She found a treasure trove of photo's from before our wedding on one of her hard drives, and sent me a CD with all of them. It was like getting a birthday present a few weeks after my birthday, except I got to relive these moments again 18 months later! This is my favourite one of me at home all snazzed up for the Big Moment.

And I HAD to include these two from the wedding rehearsal - my Mom and I standing in exactly the same (slightly bossy) pose with our noses turned up. It made me laugh. Next time I think I look only like my Dad, I will think of this little inherited pose!

Tam is so brilliant at capturing the moment, and the expressions on her subject's faces. All photo's are entirely the credit of Tamara Dawson Photography - and she does weddings (this is my favourite). The one of her at the top was taken at our rehearsal dinner by her equally talented hubby, Pete.