Tuesday, 31 December 2013

farewell 2013: the Pope and the polar bear

If I look at my social media feeds, I see many people had an awful 2013. Mine included. It started out well, Nicky passed his Board exam on the 5th (and final) go. We went on a wonderful holiday to the Eastern Cape over Easter. Finally got the disgusting carpets removed and our beautiful teak parquet restored to shining, wooden floored glory. 

And then the proverbial poo hit the fan. Nicky resigned from his exhausting job at the largest retailer in South Africa, just in time, as the verbal abuse he received there was starting to affect his mental health. Plus, I was ready to go into the office and punch his boss in the face. With a chair. A metal chair with spikes. His next job was a hopeless failure. Many promises made by a gutsy, but clueless entrepreneur meant that after a week he knew he had to find another, more stable job. There are few things in life more scary than facing the loss of your financial security. By the grace of God, a friend of a friend was emigrating to Australia and Nicky could step into his job within a few weeks. So many prayers, such support from our Christian family and our Heavenly Father. I didn't write much about this, I was too busy trying to keep my husband and my life afloat. Then in June my beloved Granny Mary died. It didn't come as a surprise, she was ill for a long time, but she was one of my favourite people. She built my confidence when no-one else would, or could. I still miss her terribly. Not six weeks later Nic's Granny Dot died suddenly. It was hell. Not a single person in his family had time to mentally prepare themselves for her passing. One Sunday she was fine, the next she was gone. On top of this, I had a mental year at work. Fortunately I had the same job the entire year, but it was rough. I think we all felt the tightening of the purse strings thanks to continued global recession. If only JZ could have held back on his fire pool, we all might have paid less tax. Idiot. Nicky then wrote his final Board exam in November. A very stressful time. I wrote this post on the roller coaster of emotions that follows such a huge exam. I questioned my decisions, my profession, my life. 

Inevitably though, life is a cycle of good and bad...and hopefully the bad has made way for the good in 2014. We have our amazing, life-changing trip to South East Asia next year...and maybe some other life-changing events we have yet to see. There is always something to be grateful for, and Nicky and I believe that our faith keeps us grounded. God is always teaching us something.

And then, in case you thought it was all doom and gloom, here is some good news from 2013:

The Pope was named Esquire's Best Dressed Man on 2013 for exchanging the normal papal splendour for simple white robes. He is a complete legend. You have to read this amazing article on all the good stuff he did for the Catholic church this year (including denouncing the judgement of gays and lesbians, wow!, and taking a selfie). I'm not Catholic, but what a coup for Christianity.

The WWF had some great wins for conservation in 2013, including one close to our hearts..the War Against Rhino Poaching. Vietnam is one country hugely at fault, so next year on our travels I plan to wear this T-shirt. Why not some passive activism while travelling?

This is the Nat Geo Photograph of the year, taken by Paul Souders of a polar bear in the Hudson Bay.

Cheers to 2014, have a wonderful New Year! 
Kate xxx

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas and die Groot Trek

So how was your Christmas? In my experience, as long as there is lots of wine (tick on this, we drank Nic's uncle's entire wine collection including a beautiful 2007 Meerlust) and no family screaming matches...you're doing quite well.

We missioned up to Joburg to spend Christmas with my mom-in-law's family. If you have been following me for a while, you will know that we used to live in Joburg. And hated it. Despite this, like most South Africans, we like nothing better than packing the entire contents of our house into a double cab bakkie and trekking to another province. On the 6 hour drive on Christmas Eve I had plenty of time to think about why we are like this. It's just one of the many reasons I love this country. Who else in the world has this trekking spirit? It must come from our ancestors and their ox wagons and living in caves and general hardiness. 

We had Christmas lunch in the rain, as is also traditionally South African, with 25 plus people. It was very festive. Then on Boxing Day we met up with some other family and they shared a Turducken. The Americans had to have come up with that one. I ate an avo instead, I must say being vegetarian at this time of year protects me from a certain amount of overeating. We got home to find that Howie had redesigned the outside of my mom-in-law's car. We even found paw prints on the BONNET! Equivalent to a toddler running through Pick n Pay with no pants on I imagine. Hugely embarrassing. Yesterday we headed to Umhlanga beach to ceremoniously wash off all the Gauteng-ness and it was wonderful.

PS The Hub came through and got me the Woolies canvas bag I put on the gift guide. Did you think it was a coincidence that I put it first? Never.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

hello december

The best, most festive, most fun, most all-round fabulous month of the year. Here's a song to start us off....

// image from Pinterest

gift ideas for the woman in your life {2013}

I am writing this under the illusion of writing an interesting and helpful blog post. What I am actually doing is dropping the world's biggest hint to the Hub. What better forum than the blog he diligently and faithfully reads every Monday (he even has a reminder on his phone, bless his soul).

My birthday is in early December and the Hub's is early January. So these two months are when we stock up on lovely things for each other. The rest of the year is rather dry...Note to self: do not start trying to fall pregnant in March/April - to avoid later bankruptcy. The problem with the Dec/Jan present rush is that you forget all the wonderful gift ideas you came up with in say, June or April. And then suddenly in the chaotic marketing buzz of Christmas you must remember that unique and useful idea. Uh uh.

This is what I (and any other fashion, socially and environmentally conscious lady) would like for Christmas:

A cute coral pink tote for 2014 travelling and adventures

Night Visions by Imagine Dragons, hands down my favourite album in the last year

Organic, petrochemical free Tudor Rose perfume by The Victorian Garden

Gwyneth Paltrow's Notes from My Kitchen Table, which has lots of good vegetarian recipes and enough chicken to keep the Hub happy

These super sexy bleached jeans from Trenery (I wouldn't mind the sandals as well!)

Ellen tub chair in bright red, perfect for curling up with a book in the corner of the guest bedroom

Set of 6 beautiful Murano blue tall drinking glasses for ice cool gin and tonics by the pool

Nike Free hot pink trainers (I can only find the blue ones online) for looking like you are serious about gym

Oh and maybe Wifi at home...this 3G is so slow right now I could happily go outside and throw this laptop IN THE POOL.

Happy shopping!