Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just Friends

Recently I signed up for a "Just Friends " card from our local revamped Food Lovers Market. 
 Though we have a veg garden , it does not supply all our needs in terms of fruit and veg, so I usually make a trip down there once a week or at least every second week, to stock up on their fantastic specials and combo deals on fruit and veg. Sometimes the neighbours and I club together to share the deal of the day. 

What I love about this card, is that every time one visits the Food Lovers Market, you can pop into their restaurant for a free beverage....any beverage besides alcohol. A milkshake, a latte, juice or smoothie, you name it, you can enjoy it! There is no qualifying spend and one doesn't need to order a meal either. Just enjoy a coffee or whatever takes your fancy!
One can pop in there daily if you like...one free beverage per day per card-holder.
I signed hubby up too for a card, and recently we popped in there for some shopping and then enjoyed a milkshake together afterwards.
Another benefit is that one can choose to receive an sms notifying one of the current special deals. 
Certainly a good idea in my books!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Joy Dare August Week 4

So often things get busy and seemingly crazy ....
It is good to stop and give thanks for the blessings, big or small....
They can sometimes be missed in the daily busyness....

Day 21
859) having the car unexpectedly today and being able to collect a generous donation of bath sprudels for my youngest's Chaeli Campaign fundraiser
860) a visit to the Compass bakery
861) seeing the world anew through the eyes of my sweet baby nephew
862) my friend comping along for the ride over the mountain
863) blessed to watch a beautiful integrated dance production tonight...thankful for a body that works well

Day 22
864) getting much done today
865) laughing a lot with the kids today
866) time to just relax while waiting for the kids to finish drama...reading my magazine from my mum

Day 23
867) hugs from my youngest whenever he thinks I need one
868) quiet moments in the sunshine this afternoon 
869) chatting to my farm sister...miss her ever so much
870) blessed with a bag of potatoes just when I needed some for our evening meal

Day 24
871) early morning coffee with hubby before he went to work
872) struck anew and humbled by His grace
873) specials on seedlings at the nursery...
just in time for some spring planting
874) a voucher to spend at a book store...
enjoyed browsing and finding a book for myself and two to use as gifts
875) weekend again....
 neighbourhood kids having fun together....
movie night and pizzas next door

Day 25
876) an afternoon enjoyed relaxing at friends
877) teens relaxing here tonight again

Day 26
878) early morning sounds of birds ....
a constant reminder of His care for us
Matthew 6:26
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
 and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
879) rare treat of breakfast out with hubby
880) girlfriends popping in and a good laugh together
881) hubby helping to get things in order in the house after a busy weekend

Day 27
882) a morning walk with my baby nephew in the pram...
good to clear the Monday blues
883) lifts for the kids today
884) warm sunshine and pottering in the garden... 
the promise of  new growth
885) my mum and I messaging one another today

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reaping the benefits with Stodels

Yesterday's beautiful weather and the lure of specials on seedlings at Stodels, saw my friend and I taking a trip to the nursery in preparation for our spring gardens. Every year I hope that my vegetable garden will produce more for us to enjoy, and this year I am determined to reap a good harvest. 

We were given the opportunity to join the Stodels Club and the staff were super friendly and helpful. Becoming a member is free and the benefits are great.....

Points are earned on purchases and can then be used towards future purchases.
Monthly newsletters.
Advanced notice on specials and promotions.
Monthly specials for members.
Free gift in your birthday month
free monthly gift!

This month's gift was a packet of carrot seed.

I look forward to some gardening over the weekend. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Joy dare August week 3

The children and I have been working through a series of  "Timely Topics for Teens".
 I loved being able to share the following with them this week...

Be grateful.

Your happiness in life doesn't depend on how you look or what you have. It depends on your attitude.
You can go through life bitter and resentful about yourself, or you can accept yourself and be thankful. You can always find something to be grateful for. A man once said, "I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."
Gratitude is happy thankfulness toward God. Gratitude gets you out of yourself and into God. God becomes the source of your happiness. Then you can get on with the real purpose of life - being what God wants you to be.

Day 14
837) a good and productive school morning
838) good nourishing food and a fire warming us again tonight

Day 15
839) lunchtime flapjacks and hot chocolate next door
840) watching all the kids (from my little nephew to the teens) enjoying playing today... 
building tall towers and watching them fall
841) the way hubby calms any upsets the kids may have...
turning tears to smiles

Day 16
( 3 gifts of family)
842) blessed by my mom in law who kindly lends us her car when ever we need a second car and is more than willing to lift the kids at other times too
843) my siblings, always there even though distance separates some of us....
they way they share in our joys and give support in the tough times....
blessed to have them in my life
844) friends who become like family

Day 17
(3 gifts in the morning)
845) the wonderful group of ladies over at the Hello Mornings Challenge...
faithful friends and prayer warriors
846) His mercy...new every morning
847) sunshine after the storms, perfect for our outing to Monkey Town today

Day 18
848) the gift of our youngest..... 
celebrating his 12th birthday today.... 
blessed to be his parents
849) wonderful fun filled day celebrating....
thankful for family and friends who made his day special!
850) the sounds of my eldest playing his guitar....

Day 19
851) a late lie in, much needed after all the busyness
852) blessed to be lent a washing machine until ours gets fixed

853) beautiful Arums ...brought by my neighbour from her mom's farm

Day 20
854) hubby messaging me just to see how I am today
855) time alone browsing in the library in between running the kids around for the afternoon's activities
856) coffee with a smile from my eldest after dinner tonight
857) blessed by a sweet friend with a bag of butternuts
858) reading Ann's post...Chased by Grace and knowing it is true for me too...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Celebrating twelve!

Yesterday our youngest turned twelve. 
It was wonderful to watch his excitement build during the week as the weekend drew nearer. 
After all birthdays are fun! 
We are so blessed to be his parents and that he is part of our family. 
He is growing really tall and will soon be over taking me no doubt! 
He is a great little brother, a good friend to all and loves animals and nature.
 He is hands on and loves building things, taking things apart and experimenting. 
He is witty and sharp and full of wild ideas!
We look forward to the year ahead and are thankful for his life, and the joy and laughter he brings to our home.

Monkey Town Outing

On Friday we kicked off Z's birthday weekend celebrations with an outing to Monkey Town .
 I have always wanted to take the kids there and just never got around to it, so was really pleased when one of the moms organised the school tour. 
At Monkey Town there are more than 230 animals and 28 different exotic species. There are Koi ponds, Meerkats, birds and many small antelope. Sadly many animals are dumped at Monkey Town when their owners can't take care of them any more.
Our guide, Allan, was amazing, engaging us all with his wealth of information about the apes and monkeys. He knew each one by name too! A monkey named Luke,  followed us throughout the tour, scampering along on top of the cage, and stopping when we stopped, only to move along when we did too!

The Black and White Ruffed Lemurs were enjoying their lunch when we arrived at their area.

The Ring-tailed Lemur is just beautiful. 
(Many thanks to Lulu for the use of her photo.)

The Marmoset monkeys, ever so cute!

See the tiny 5 day old twins on their mom's back?

(Thanks again to Lulu for the brilliant photo.)

We saw many beautiful birds too. A cheeky monkey tried to pull some feathers from the Blue Crane and the Crane spread it's wings wide and scared the monkey off!

We enjoyed watching the monkeys arrive, seemingly out of nowhere, for feeding time.
 There was much screeching and chattering as they selected their preferred food and gobbled it down.

Another highlight....the Chimp sisters.

The children sang for the Chimps and only when they sang Jingle Bells, did the Chimps approve and give them the nod! Allan gave us so much interesting information regarding the Chimps and how similar their lives are to our own. We enjoyed watching them catch their lunch as it was thrown over the moat to them. It was amazing to see how they refused to catch the items they didn't feel like eating, and made a perfect catch when it was something they liked!

All in all a wonderful educational morning!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cultural Exchange - parcel from Singapore

Our final package from our last swap arrived this week. 
Great excitement of course! 
This time our package came from Singapore. 

Included in the pack was a letter introducing the Ching family who kindly sent our pack. There were some beautiful postcards depicting the Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown, one of the oldest mosques - Sultan Mosque, views of Chinatown, the city skyline and various species of Orchids seen in the famous National Orchid Garden. The brochures included and a map of the area make me want to hop on a plane and explore this interesting place! I can't wait to try out the "Emperor Herbs Chicken Spice" mix too.

There were also two wonderful books that I know will help us learn much about Singapore. One is about the   
history of Singapore and the other about their heritage. 
A cute fluffy Merlion , a bottle opener fridge magnet depicting the flag, as well as a another magnet depicting the island country and a key ring with miniature currency completed the pack. 

In ancient times Singapore was known as Temasek or "sea port" and was a busy trading centre. At the end of the 9th century AD it was destroyed and later rediscovered by Sang Utama. On his arrival he discovered strange beasts there, which he later learned were lions. He remained on the island and renamed it Singapura which means "lion city". The cute Merlion symbolises the ancient city of Temasek with it's fish body, and the lion's head, the legend of its discovery.

We are thankful to the Ching family for this wonderful pack and look forward to discovering so much about Singapore.

Culture Swapper

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joy dare August week 2

Continuing to count my blessings daily...
many simple pleasures that I am thankful for...
the little things that add up and make it all worthwhile!

Day 8
814) lunchtime in the sun with the kids
815) relaxed evening at home, pot luck supper, neighbours coming over in their pjs laden with deserts, playing Rummikub and having fun
816) thankful that my eldest went back to training this evening after a long absence 

Day 9
817) a 4 day long weekend to enjoy with family and friends
818) my neighbour doing my hair for me
819) enjoying a long overdue dinner get together with dear family friends

Day 10
820) cuddling beautiful tiny puppies.... miss our Roxy
821)  enjoying the science centre with my youngest while the eldest did his science practicals

822) hubby making pizza for a houseful of teens to celebrate one of the their friend's birthdays when it couldn't be done in his own home....
laughter, fun, neighbours joining in for birthday cake
 and a roaring fire as it stormed outside

Day 11
823) thankful for no damage to the house as the storms rage outside again 
824) thankful for a wood fire warming the house again
825) glad to hear my sister is ok....
  snowed in for four days and thankful that my mum managed to get in safely to visit her overnight
826) blessed to be called "mom" by the kids teen friends,
love that they choose to hang out here (even though it gets loud and busy),
blessed that they all took over making burgers and chips tonight,
happy to see them all happy
827) preciousness of holding my sweet nephew until he fell asleep in my arms tonight

Day 12
828) enjoying a few hours connecting with my daughter today,
laughing hard and chatting with her
829) thankful for hubby tidying the house while we were gone
830) coffee and chats with neighbours and friends this evening
831) a call from my farm sister, good to catch up and thankful she was protected from last nights raging fires

Day 13
832) sunshine and warmth after a chilly weekend
833) good brisk walk with my neighbour and my sweet baby nephew in the pram while the kids got on with some work 
834) sweet baby toddling round the garden, munching on just picked tomatoes, gooseberries and fresh peas,
playing with water and mud in the garden,
him shrieking with delight in a bubble bath as he threw water at his cousins,
blessed that he is happy here and that we can watch him grow and be a part of his life
835) friends popping by for coffee unexpectedly
836) diligence and hard work that paid off for our eldest...
amazing surprise exam results today....
one blessed and thankful mama!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Onion Marmalade Recipe

Recently I have had a few requests for the onion marmalade recipe I regularly make...at least 3kg at a time! 
I almost can't keep up with the demand for it. It gets eaten on sandwiches with cheese, cold meats or avocado, eggs on toast, burgers and even pizzas! Just yesterday one of the teens, who is a regular visitor here, declared that onion marmalade is the reason he keeps coming back! 

3 kg onions chopped as you like
700g sugar
200 ml red wine
500 ml vinegar
200 ml balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

In a big pot combine the onions with about a cup of sugar and cook over a medium heat for about 25 minutes, being careful not to let them brown.
Then add the rest of the ingredients and allow to cook until most of the liquid has reduced and thickened.
This can take some time and often I add a tablespoon of corn flour to speed up the thickening process. 
This also prevents the onions from becoming too soft from a long cooking process. 

It is then put into sterilised jars and usually doesn't last long before I am making more....
I do believe it will store well though.

Hope you will try it and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Joy dare August week 1

Oops, I suddenly realised that I had not been remembering to take note of  my blessings, despite the fact they are always on my mind. Perhaps it's because I felt I had lost an entire day due to a dreadful migraine that had me down and out earlier this past week. Never too late to catch up though.

I  recently read this quote which spoke volumes to me :
"Life can get messy and obscure our view. Those moments will always threaten.
 It's the nature of the journey." K.Rose
Yes...it can get messy due to our very nature as human beings. 
Yes.....those moments will threaten to rob us of our joy, obscuring our view and our ability to be thankful in everything. I need to constantly remember that despite whatever it is I face, there is always something I can give thanks for.

August Day 1
790) thankful for the kids who took over dinner last night when I felt rotten
791) a friend popping in unexpectedly 
792) a productive school day after all the recent challenges

Day 2
(3 gifts eaten)
793) fresh doughnuts
794) strawberries 
795)  liquorice all sorts and more,
all brought over by my neighbour for an impromptu afternoon picnic in our garden on this gorgeous sunny winter's day

Day 3
(a gift at 10h00, 13h00 and 22h00)
796) sweet baby nephew here for the morning, entertaining us with his cute antics
797) quiet lunch after a fun filled and busy morning
798) that  good feeling after having spent an evening out,
surrounded by friends and celebrating a sweet little girls birthday

Day 4
799) sharing heart to heart "mom matters" with a dear friend
800) my neighbour who kindly opened her home for a surprise birthday party for our 17 year old son...
all the kids/ teens who managed to keep it a secret and him being truly surprised....
all the work put into the planning and preparation by my daughter and their friends....
a great night of dancing and good fun!

Day 5
801) kids cooking breakfast
802) long overdue chat with my mum
803) our teens wanting our opinions and input

Day 6
804) a happy morning with my little nephew and the kids getting on with their work
805) my kind sister in law taking loads of our laundry home to wash and dry....
 and my neighbour continually letting me use her machine since ours is not fixed after all
806) my neighbour picking up a few items at the shops for me when she went to get her shopping done...
 and treating us to some cold meats to go with the bread I had asked her to get for me
807) lifts for the kids again as hubby had the car
808) a cosy wood fire going in the lounge this afternoon....
snow on the mountains made today really cold!
809) my dad, bearing tea time treats, popping in for coffee late this afternoon

Day 7
810) That He is greater than anything ...
"the one who is in you is greater than the one who is the world" 1 John 4:4
811) a day of un-rushed and enjoyable learning with my children
812) my daughter's help preparing dinner and my eldest's with the clean up after
813) relaxed evening chatting with the kids, laughing and enjoying being together

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Slow Living Month 7: July 2012

It seems July was filled with festivities and good nourishing food.
 The weather has swung between really cold and beautifully warm, almost fooling one into thinking we may have an early spring. 

On  cold days we have been enjoying various soups.
 I tried a tasty but rather spicy Asian Chicken soup with greens from  the garden and Asian noodles. 
Next time I will be sure not too add too much chili.
 I  made a variation of butternut soup with a hint of chili and it was delicious.
 As butternuts are plentiful, we enjoyed  them in wraps with minced beef and Mexican tomatoes. The butternut stretches the mince and we had at least two meals from that pot, as well as lunch for hubby.

As I enjoy trying new recipes, I scribble them down from magazines if I see them in a waiting room. One I tried this month was a cottage pie with sausage instead of minced beef. I cooked up onions, leeks and tomatoes, added sausage pieces and topped it with mashed potatoes. A tasty all in one winner meal.
Another meal I tried was Sweet and Spicy chicken with lemon grass, cardamom, coconut milk, chili and coriander from the garden. 

Hubby treated us one evening by making paella. I had bought the seafood mix a short while back when it was on special. I love it when he takes over in the kitchen from time to time and spoils us with a delicious feast.

My daughter outdid herself with baking cakes for her brother's 17th birthday. 
She made his favourite lemon, coconut and poppy seed cake, an orange cake and a chocolate cake.

I prepared curried green beans - delicious on toast with a slice of cheese! 
We made lemon curd again and again - enjoyed with pancakes or flapjacks and even on ice cream, despite the cold weather!

Bottled Mexican tomatoes with chili and coriander from the garden were prepared and used in a number of dishes.
I tried my hand at bottled beetroot - simply delicious! 
I have 3 bags of beetroot I plan to prepare and bottle tomorrow.

I had been wanting to try out a recipe for orange, butternut and ginger chutney for a while and finally got to make some. It has an interesting flavour, rather like a marmalade with the orange flavour being dominant. I find it a little sweet though and perhaps it will end up being used in cooking, rather than as a condiment. 
Yesterday saw me making another 3kg of onion marmalade which gets eaten on everything by my eldest son!

This evening I had great fun turfing out what seemed like half my Tupperware cupboard....except it was not Tupperware, rather all those old plastic lids from yogurt and ice cream containers that seem to have gathered there. Thankfully they are going to a school re cycling project for my little neighbour.

Oh dear...really need to try something here!

Harvested- last of the broccoli, chillies, grannadillas, herbs, spring onions, spinach, mustard greens, red pepper, peas, first tomatoes and gooseberries.
Growing- lettuce and broccoli seedlings.

I had a little fun being creative this month....

I combined two yarns, plain black and a furry beige, and knitted them together using large needles. It was quick and easy and I have a lovely soft cowl for myself.

Finally finished the "cheese cowl"  (named for all the holes in it) for my daughter . It was rather time consuming as  there was a lot of casting on and off but so worth it in the end as she has enjoyed wearing it

I really enjoyed doing all the flowers for our friend's wedding .
 The table arrangements were simple yet elegant, in beautiful rectangular mirror vases.
 Her bouquet was bound with white ribbon and a black bow with long curling tendrils of ribbon hanging down, to fit the black and white theme. The brides attendants each carried smaller bouquets of white roses, bound with a simple white ribbon.

I was sent home with a number of roses after the wedding and enjoyed creating a simple lavender and rose posy for my aunt on her wedding anniversary. 

The younger children created some cards for our cultural exchange packs and my daughter made some more felt elephants as well as a fun 4th of July 4oth birthday card for our neighbour.

My daughter held a craft workshop where she taught the girls to make felt hearts embellished with beads  and buttons.

Once again, most reading has been school related. 
We are enjoying our current read aloud of the story of a man who grew up in District 6.
My youngest son and I have also been reading stories of the Cape for his history of South Africa. 

We continue to walk to nearby shops and the post office when needed and I  have planned errands for the days I have the car. My neighbour and I share lifts for the children where possible too. 

Memorable moments in July were my neighbour's 40th birthday,
 our son's 17th birthday
 our friend's wedding. 
My daughter treated me to a belated Mother's Day lunch.
 It was wonderful to enjoy some mom and daughter time together. 
Our house has also been like a railway station with the kids friends in and out. It has been a pleasure to open our home to their friends and see them enjoying being here with their friends.

Thank you  Christine, it has been fun to look back on July and link up to Slow Living Month by Month.