Sunday, September 30, 2012

Celebrating 15 years.

This weekend we have been celebrating our daughter's 15th birthday. It feels as if it was just the other day that she was a cute little girl in pig tails toddling around, playing with her dolls, tea sets and dressing up.
We are so blessed to have a daughter sandwiched between our two boys.

 It is wonderful, yet almost frightening to watch her grow into a young lady.... 
beautiful inside and out.

 On Friday afternoon we celebrated with a tea party for her special girl friends. It was an answer to prayer that the sun came out and they could enjoy being outdoors.  

She made some tea pot, tea cup and shoe shaped pastel coloured cookies, all beautifully and individually decorated by hand. Lilac flowers from the garden, pink and white marshmallows, home made fudge,  pastel coloured sweets and pretty glittery cupcakes decorated with pink flowers adorned the table. Our neighbour blessed her with a delicious "tea cup" cake to go along with her tea party theme. Everything was so pretty and feminine and the girls enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together. 

In the evening the house was filled with teens to celebrate her birthday and the end of term. Saturday was her actual birthday and the day started with gifts and calls from family and friends, and later a visit to her grandparents . The neighbourhood joined us in the evening for birthday cake and later more family and friends enjoyed a pizza evening here.

 All in all lots of celebrating!

Celebrating our precious daughter....
 His masterpiece and gift to us....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Joy Dare September into week 4

The past week was one I would not choose to re-live.
 I was "hanging on by a string" as Ann Voskamp would say...
Sometimes I think too deeply of what others say and it is not good for me. 
I am grateful to have a loving family and precious friends who help me through when things get tough.
 But most of all I am thankful for God's grace which is new every morning and His unconditional love.

Day 18
( a gift freckled)

942) my precious daughter

Day 19
( gift in conversation)
943) a friend helping me see things from a different point of view

Day 20
( gift in salvation)
944) Knowing His grace towards us and this: 
Romans 8: 1 There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus
945) enjoying seeing my children skate fast and free with with friends at the ice rink today
946) hubby sorting dinner out when I came down with a migraine

Day 21
947) rest and much needed sleep as the migraine persisted
948) hubby making dinner again

Day 22
( a gift rattling)
949) rattling...our car that gets us from A to B, rattling all the way but doing the job
950) catching up with friends today...face to face and via messaging

Day 23
951) chatting with my wise and loving mum

Day 24
952) enjoying hubby's home-made pizzas with friends we haven't seen in a while
953) spending time with my daughter, laughing hard at a funny movie she knew I would enjoy
954) friends who uplift and encourage
955) my hubby standing by me when things are difficult for me

Monday, September 17, 2012

Joy Dare September into week 3

Choosing to count His blessings...

Day 11

921) dinner on the beach tonight, watching my youngest enjoy building sandcastles and my teens running fast and free on the beach, a brisk walk for me and then back to neighbours for coffee, dessert and good laughs

Day 12
922) He is faithful, 
all knowing, 
 He knows the end from the beginning,
 wants my good,
 is all powerful, 
and stays closer than a brother.
923) an unexpected visit from my sis in law and her sweet baby today
924) giggling, happy teen girls looking through photos taken over the years
925) hubby surprising me with a wasabi chocolate 
926) my brother calling just to see how I am today

Day 13

927) coffee with a friend just when I needed it
928) sounds of guitar from my teen son's room... love it
929) seeds planted.... pushing up through the earth

Day 14

930) that wonderful Friday feeling and being able to spend time just reading for school today, and knowing that it is ok to do just that
931) early afternoon escape to a local dam for a picnic 
932) unexpected visitors....evening filled with laughter...good for the soul

Day 15

933) visit to a local market with my sis in law and her sweet baby... 
watching him tasting various cheeses and breads and just being his cute little self
934) beautiful rich compost from our heap that hubby dug out for me again today
935) the gift of friendship

Day 16

(3 gifts shared)
936) early morning walk on the beach shared with my daughter and a friend
937) pancakes with strawberries and ice cream shared with family and friends
938) delicious fish braai shared with neighbours and friends

Day 17

939) smiles and laughs on a day that was difficult
940) my dad stopping by on his way to work this morning to share some melon seeds with me
941) soothing sounds of my teen son playing his guitar again tonight

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An afternoon escape...

On Friday afternoon we took advantage of the beautiful weather and the fact that our national parks had free entry. We packed a picnic and went to Silvermine Dam to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. 
The kids tried to catch some fish but they seemed to be hiding.

Beautiful pink blossoms announced that spring is here. 
Frogs croaked, bees buzzed and a snake slithered across our path, much to the delight of a little girl who was with us...her first snake seen in nature. 

A beautiful afternoon and good for the soul to be outdoors.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Slow Living month 8

I have been a little slow in posting for month 8. Days are full and packed with life's activities, revolving around a household of 5. Sometimes I wonder if I achieved anything, but then looking back, I realise I have, and it is good to be able to look back and take note of those moments that make up our days.

It seems that food was simple and quickly prepared over the last month and nothing really stands out, but there was reason to make celebratory cakes and bakes......
always enjoyed more than shop bought bakes!
Our daughter made her ever popular lemon and poppy seed cake and delicious peanut butter squares.
 Our youngest baked a traditional South African milk tart.
Inspired by the abundance of golden yellow gooseberries in the garden, I tried my hand at something new and delicious....

a gooseberry tart!

 The flavours were delicious, a little tart and a little sweet. 
Just my kind of desert!

On more than one occasion, when the house seemed over run with hungry visiting teens,  hubby made his home-made pizzas topped with onion marmalade, bacon and cheese.

The usual 3kg of onion marmalade was made to satisfy those who want to eat it with everything.
5 kg of tomatoes, bought at a good price, were turned into tomato and chili jam, Indian tomato sauce as well as Italian tomato sauce for the freezer, and some to share with friends too.
Lemons from my mom in laws tree were made into lemon curd and enjoyed on pancakes.
Bright beetroot was bottled and my daughter and I have been enjoying it.

We managed to de-clutter and clear out my youngest's cupboard...all sorts had been hiding in there. I prefer to pass on, than to throw away unless absolutely necessary. Good but too small shoes were passed on to happy recipients as well as two backpacks that will better suit younger children. The little guy next door received a couple of hand me downs, and baby cousin some toys that have been outgrown. 

My daughter attacked the kitchen cupboard that had been hoarding all sorts of unused items.... the likes of Barbie and Spiderman water bottles that were once precious to my big children, have now been passed on to little people to enjoy. It is freeing to pass on items that are no longer used, with the knowledge that someone else can still enjoy them.

I recently read a couple of posts about natural air fresheners for the home. Some lovely simple ideas. I tried out a cinnamon one...lovely to have the beautiful aroma wafting through the house. Just pop a pot on the stove and let the water simmer with a couple of cinnamon sticks in it. It can be reused when necessary.

I so enjoyed picking this little harvest....

Just perfect for a coleslaw to go along with an evening meal.

I harvested just one beautiful leek and am uncertain as to what happened to the rest that were planted. Next year I will be sure to plant many more as it was most definitely the best leek ever!
Kale and spinach have been added to many meals.
Handfuls for bright red cherry tomatoes were picked continually throughout the month.Some eaten fresh, others made into a sticky, delicious warm tomato salad in a balsamic reduction.
Our youngest (who doesn't eat peas any other way) enjoyed the last of the peas, freshly picked before strong winds destroyed them all. He also enjoyed  the first baby purple carrots.
Herbs are added to meals daily, mustard greens and lettuce were enjoyed and the last grannadilla picked. 
Gooseberries were eaten daily, fresh off the bush.

I joined a local nursery garden club and received some free carrot seed which I have yet to plant. In the mean time red cabbage , lettuce , green peppers, rocket, lemon balm and pansy seedlings have been planted. 

My daughter finished off the beanie she had started knitting for herself last month and was very happy with the result. The colours are so pretty with her blond hair.

She also attended a Sweeatarts workshop where she learned to create delicious edible art.

Her art teacher organised a screen printing workshop and she enjoyed creating her own T's.
The "Peacock"  T was made for her friend with the surname Peacock.

I spent time trying to figure out a knitting pattern that was rather confusing.
 I have yet to finish the item and perhaps it will be done by the end of this month. 

But I did finally knit up a beanie for my sister in law...

and perhaps her sweet baby will share it with her!

I had bought this yarn on a long ago and memorable trip with two friends to Nurturing Fibres. 
I remember taking an age to choose a colour for her. This hand dyed Spaghetti Aran was a delight to knit with... 455 merino, 45% kid mohair and 10% silk.

I attended a very informative talk about natural progesterone therapy, Naturone, and have been discovering the benefits of this treatment. 
My gardening books have been visited and revisited as I plan my spring gardening and companion planting. 
I have been enjoying "Jamie's Great Britain", a beautiful recipe book by Jamie Oliver.

This was the last month that we regularly had my baby nephew with us during the week. 
We miss the little treasure already! 
We still don't have a car every day so the kids and I do a little walking when we need something on the days we don't have the car. Shared lifts are organised where possible too and errands well planned for the days we do have the car.
The kids spent some time volunteering at a charity book-sale and painting a mural for the Chaeli Campaign. Our youngest also began his fundraising project for the Chaeli Campaign.

We enjoyed many memorable moments in August. 
We held a surprise birthday party for our 17 year old son, a great night of good fun and
dancing with a great bunch of kids! 
We celebrated the birthday of one of his friends in our home with hubby's awesome home made pizza.
Our youngest turned 12 and so there was more celebrating with a party for his friends, a round of cave golf and then on his request, hubby's awesome pizza again!
Many a weekend, the kids friends all hang out here and it is great to have them feel at home.
Our neighbourhood celebrated the engagement of one of our neighbours with a lovely dinner party.
The younger two and I had a wonderful outing to Monkey Town too.
I also had the pleasure of an impromptu evening out with two girl friends  to an Elvis Blue concert.
All in all an enjoyable month.

Thank you Christine for hosting this great link up at Slow Living Essentials.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Joy Dare September week 2

It is good to give thanks...

Day 4
(a gift cool, warm , sun-soaked)
897) cool waters and ice cream at the beach this afternoon with all my children, and our sweet baby nephew/ cousin and his momma

898) weather beautifully warm
899) skin soaking up a little sun on this glorious spring day

Day 5
(3 gifts Spring)
900) birds chirping their announcement of the new day
901) buds promising new life
902) longer days with beautiful calm, warmer evenings

Day 6
903) an early morning walk with my daughter and a friend, perfect way to start the day
904) my youngest helping me get the watering done and having fun splashing the water everywhere
905) relaxed afternoon at the Science Centre...
eldest son finding practical lessons helpful....
 youngest having fun exploring with a friend....
and myself enjoying catching up with friends

Day 7
906) a glorious spring day and another brisk morning walk
907) a beautiful tree, free from the nursery in exchange for a bag of old newspapers
908) free gift of a restio from the nursery
909) a perfect evening enjoyed with friends, first braai of the season, good company and good laughs

Day 8
910) perfect weather and a good days work in the garden....
 hubby's help appreciated and beautiful rich compost from our heap
911) chatting with my farm sister, always good
912) an early evening walk on the beach enjoyed with my daughter

Day 9
913) breakfast enjoyed with my Dad in celebration of his birthday this week
914) finally getting to chat with my Mum after trying to make contact all week
915) a much needed afternoon rest

Day 10
916) my hairdresser needing a model for her exam and doing my hair free today
917) my youngest helping me with my work.... with a cheerful heart
918) finding someone to help my son with his physics
919) being able to share my compost with my neighbour
920) getting hugs just when I needed them 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Traditional Milk Tart

As part of his SA history, our youngest recently made a traditional milk tart. I thought it would be fun to share the recipe with those who want to learn more about South African culture and traditional dishes.

Milk tart is a tasty dessert with a pastry crust and a creamy milk filling.
 It is delicious warm or cold and there are many different ways of making it. 
Here is the recipe he used, with a slight difference to suite our personal preference.

puff pastry
1 litre milk
1 stick cinnamon
100ml sugar
100ml cake flour
pinch of salt
50ml butter
4 eggs
ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180 C
Roll out puff pastry and line a pie dish, then pre-bake
Remove once done and set aside

Boil milk with cinnamon stick and add butter to milk mixture
In a separate bowl, mix sugar, salt and cake flour
Add the hot milk slowly to this mixture, stirring well to prevent lumps
Add beaten eggs 
(our recipe suggests separating the eggs, adding yolks and folding in stiffly beaten whites 
but we prefer to add the whole eggs)
Return to low heat, allow mixture to thicken while stirring
We add a good dose of cinnamon to the mixture
Pour into pre baked crust

Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes until set and golden.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with more cinnamon if you like and enjoy warm or cold.

He loved being able to prepare a tasty dessert for his family.

Culture Swapper

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sweetarts edible art

Last week K had the pleasure of enjoying a Sweetarts workshop...

Edible art!

The girls got to make sushi cakes, cake pops and pot of gold rainbow cupcakes...

Her brothers are already putting in their requests...

Jacki, the owner of Sweetarts, began running her business full-time in January 2012. Prior to that, her baking was purely a hobby, despite the fact she realised the potential for a lucrative business. She began charging just to cover costs and improved her skills by watching programmes such as Cake Boss, The Next Great Baker and Ace of Cakes. 
She knew she was on the right track as there was an awakening and people no longer wanted ordinary...there was a growing demand for 3D cakes and edible art with that WOW factor!
When asked why she bakes, her response is as follows,

"The joy I get from the end product and the excitement I see in the faces of others evoked by my creations far exceeds my previous experience in the boardroom. It is this joy that I want to share with the children who pass through my classes."

And one can see that she is passionate about sharing her beautiful edible art and teaching youngsters!

Her 14 year old son, who has been making dinosaurs and other creatures for years (out of prestik), now uses fondant and helps her create many of her 3D figurines. Jacki loves being able to give young enquiring minds a fun and new way to explore their creativity....
and eat it!

In  her basic classes, premixes are used to simplify things. She teaches the children about the various equipment, safety issues , temperatures for baking, differences between batter, dough and pastry, and ensuring the use of oven gloves...
all this neatly tucked into the lesson, so as not to sound like a list of "do nots".

The girls had a wonderful afternoon with her and we hope to be booking them for another session where they will learn to make a 3D character and 3D cake-pops. 
The girls certainly left her class bubbling with joy,  filled with a sense of achievement and laden with their delicious edible art to enjoy!

If you would like to book a workshop with Jacki, she will be running classes in the school holidays and you can visit her website here: 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Last of August Joy dare and September week 1

I am grateful for so much...

Day 28
886) time spent with my eldest as my other two were busy all day today
887) thankful for short queues when we went to apply for his ID
888) delicious cake pops and cupcakes made by my daughter at a workshop today

Day 29
( a gift one, two, three)
889) one... unexpected invitation by a girlfriend
890) " two.... birds killed with one stone" as I ran errands in the hour long wait for my son 
to finish his extra lesson
891) last three... tickets for a wonderful, fun and entertaining evening as two girlfriends and I went to the Elvis Blue concert

Day 30
( 3 gifts very small)
892) broccoli seedlings that seem to be making it when I thought they wouldn't
893) small breakthroughs, bringing restoration to a precious relationship
894) small gifts as recognition for my educational toy sales this month

Day 31
895) His protection over a dear friend when she got caught in a rain storm today and another car overturned close to her and her sweet girls
896) His grace and mercy new every morning
897) that He makes a way when there seems no other way

Day 1
898) leftover paint from a job done by hubby meant our kitchen could get a much needed fresh coat of paint
899) happy and loud sounds of teenagers visiting
890) enjoying watching our younger two take part in the Shakespeare School's Festival at the Artscape Theatre tonight....thankful it went well for them all

Day 2
(2 gifts cut)
891) delicious birthday cake as we celebrated a sweet little 8 year olds birthday
892) left over quiche cut and shared at dinner time...thankful for leftovers
893) hubby doing the hard work of getting wheel barrows of compost out of the heap for the veg beds

Day 3
(3 gifts yellow)
894) delicious gooseberries sun-ripened and enjoyed fresh
895) lemons from my mom in laws tree
896) nasturtium flowers brightening up the garden.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Shakespeare Schools Festival 2012

Last night was the culmination of months of practice for the long awaited Shakespeare Schools Festival at the Artscape. The festival is a non-competitive and celebratory opportunity for youngsters to familiarise themselves with Shakespeare through the performing arts. 

 Early this year, a friend of K's sent out an email asking fellow home schoolers if they would be interested in taking part. She had been to the previous year's festival and was inspired to get a group of home educated students together for 2012. K jumped at the opportunity as she really enjoys drama and has taken part in two small productions before. Z needed a little convincing, but accepted the challenge and really enjoyed taking part. 

As the weeks rolled on, the practising and learning of lines became part of our days. The drama practices became more frequent and eventually took up most of last weeks school time. Excitement mounted as the date drew nearer.

Two of the teens in the group took on the responsibility of directing the play and put it together on their own, being the only group participating without the help of drama teacher. Most of their practices took place in a garden and not on a stage. It was the first time a group of home educated children have taken part in the festival. They performed alongside Chris Hani Arts and Culture Focus School, Herschel Girls and San Souci Girls' High.

 Their version of Twelfth Night was outstanding. 
As one spectator put it..
  " they showed real understanding of the material in a beautifully classic interpretation. The acting was superb and the violin haunting! Don't miss it next year folks. Brilliant stuff!"

All made up and ready for the stage!
K as Olivia and Z as Valentine.

It was wonderful to see months of hard work come together so beautifully. 
  I am sure they will want to participate again next year!

Busy "Chaeli" weeks...

The past couple of weeks have been filled with extra activities. Our youngest is a Pay-It-Forward Ambassador for the Chaeli Campaign again this year. As an ambassador, he promotes the Chaeli Campaign's events, attends monthly meetings, and has the amazing opportunity to create his own fundraising project for a charity of his choice.We have found this incredible year long programme to be of huge benefit to all three of our children, giving them so much more than they could ever give back by taking part....

Earlier in the year, we visited The Bean People, the home of bath time fun!
 They make magical bath beans and sprudels. Z approached the owner and asked about selling sprudels to raise funds for his project. We were overjoyed at her enthusiasm to make a difference and support him in his efforts. Two weeks ago he was given an incredibly generous donation of over 400 sprudels.

He and K have been working hard, cutting out stickers for the sprudels and re-packing trays. He has already sold 5 trays of sprudels. He has chosen to raise funds for the Chaeli Campaign. 

In the same week, K, a friend, and I went to watch "Dreams". Students from Wynberg Girls High and the Chaeli Dancers put this short production together after a two week integrated dance workshop.

It was truly entertaining and beautiful to watch the wheel chair dancers and able bodied dancers come together in this production. Of course I cried right through the show.
 We look forward to future productions.

K and J both served as Pay-It-Forward Ambassadors in 2010, and K was a mentor for last year's ambassadors, while J was put forward by the Chaeli Campaign to participate in the President's Award. 

This is a voluntary International Award for young people from age 14 to 25.
It is an individual challenge, as every individual is different and faces different challenges. Participants are encouraged to examine themselves, their interests, abilities and ambitions, and then go on to set themselves challenges in the four sections of the award.

Summed up, the four sections are as follows:

Service - to give useful, meaningful, practical and regular service to others.

Adventurous Journey - to encourage a spirit of adventure and discovery within a team.
      The journey requires physical effort, perseverance and cooperation. At Bronze level, participants journey should be at least two days and one night, with 12 hours of purposeful effort in total.

Skills - to encourage the development of personal interests and practical skills.
 This can be a skill that is new or one that the participant already has some knowledge of.

Physical Recreation - to encourage participation in physical recreation and improve performance and fitness.
 Once again this can be a new activity or one that is already in place.

To gain an award, the participants must show regular commitment, effort, progress and improvement. There is a minimum time requirement for each level, but participants are encouraged to continue their activities beyond the minimum time frame in order to achieve personal goals.

J has worked consistently over the last year and a bit and has attained his Bronze Award. 
For the service component, he raised awareness for the many projects of the Chaeli Campaign as a Pay-It-Forward Ambassador. For his fundraiser, he and K worked together on a family fun car rally and managed to raise a substantial amount for the Pink Ladies Organisation.

His adventurous journey took place at the beginning of this year when he went on a youth camp to Betty's Bay. He participated in team building events, hiking, and a scavenger hunt. Cooking and cleaning duties were shared and teams learned to trust one another and value individual strengths.

He improved his skills by doing a three month karate coaching course, where he was trained to motivate and teach students aged 4 to 13. He has been teaching classes for over a year. This has been a great confidence builder for him and he relates well to students and parents.

Karate was once again his choice for the physical recreation aspect of the award.
Over the past year he achieved well:
Selected for Provincial Trials
Graded to Senior brown belt
Shotokan SA National Champs - 3rd team kata, 2nd individual kata and SA Champ for Kumite 2011
Regional team kumite competition - 2nd brown belt open division, 1st in his age and weight division
Graded to Senior brown belt 2
Regional Kata competition - 3rd 
Western province Champs - 3rd kumite

We are really pleased that he has chosen to enter the next level of the President's Award and that K has entered at Bronze level. 

Last weekend all three kids spent time volunteering their services to the Chaeli Campaign at the Cavendish Square Annual Charity Book Sale.

This weekend and last, J and K have had the opportunity to spend time painting a mural on the walls of the Chaeli Cottage.

We are so grateful for the opportunities that our children have been given through the Chaeli Campaign.