Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last of July Joy Dare

This past week has been another that has not been easy. 
Some days it has been really hard to find and count the blessings. I need to learn to say...
"Yes to the blessings and yes to the ugly and yes to the beautiful and yes to the love and to His will and to the saving sovereignty of God in this moment who can’t stop serenading with His grace. In our dark, just to keep whispering our breathy, child-like yes." Ann Voskamp

Day 24
768) hubby being able to get into work a little later so he could help to get out sweet Roxy to the vet this morning 
769) my Dad....his valuable opinion which helped us make the toughest decision for our doggy
770) my dear neighbour....a true gift to us as a family over the last 24hours....
her kindness, her time, her care, her tears, and her support in the decisions that our sweet doggy needed to set free from her pain and suffering
771) a dear friend just popping by to give me a hug
772) phone calls from my family

Day 25
773) my daughter baking and icing cakes for her brother's birthday
774) grace for today...
Grace. It covers messes, overlooks faults, glues brokenness, loves freely, corrects softly, leads gently, and invites openness (R. Parris)
775) laughter as we celebrated our son's 17th birthday tonight...
much needed after all the sadness 

Day 26
(3 gifts fresh)
776) fresh start on a new day
777) fresh fruit specials that my neighbour kindly went to pick up at the shops for me
778) still fresh cakes left over from last night and enjoyed today

Day 27
779) having the car today and being able to sort a few things out
780) my neighbour letting me do my washing in her machine as mine broke
781) end of a crazy week...so ready for a weekend

Day 28
782) great specials at the grocery store, making my Rand stretch further
783) enjoying a braai at home with the kids and some of their friends
784) surprises I kept finding in my kitchen from my neighbour

Day 29
(3 gifts together)
785) together...me and hubby
786) blessed that our kids can relax here together with their friends
787) hubby and a friend fixing the broken washing machine together....costing us nothing!
788) long chats with my much missed "farm" sister

Day 30
(a gift heard)
789) my little nephew shouting "hey babe" as he toddles around the house

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sending our second cultural exchange packs

We had signed up for a second Worldwide Culture Swap and have been collecting bits and pieces for our parcels for a while now. Due to life happening, it has taken us time to actually get them sent off , but thankfully they are now finally on their way!

Instead of sending brochures, the kids made colourful cards depicting aspects of Cape Town. We used these to write letters to the families we have sent parcels to.
K made some more of those cute felt elephants and we sent some SA flags too.

On our recent visit to The Bean People, we got some African animal bath beans to add to the packs.
We included African animal wooden stickers, postage stamps and coins.
 Rooibos tea, a traditional bobotie recipe and some African animal shaped jelly tots completed the packs.

Culture Swapper

We hope the families receiving the parcels will enjoy them!

Monday, July 23, 2012

July's Joy Dare, beyond week 3

This week has been hard. It was supposed to be the first week of the new school term but instead, I have had a house full of sick children. It has been difficult...watching them battle with high fevers and coughing spells. I am thankful that slowly but surely they are getting stronger by the day. I am thankful too for the kindness and love shown to us over this past week.

Day 17
739) blessed and ever so thankful for my neighbour sending me her domestic worker to do a two hour blitz here today....
house was upside down after two days of my three being sick and my sweet baby nephew who is also not well being here too 
740) same kind neighbour sending me oranges to juice for the kids
741) sunshine after all the rain
742) my yuppiechef prize purchase arriving today...a good solid frying pan
743) hubby lending a hand with dinner tonight

Day 18
744) so thankful I am a light sleeper and heard my youngest boy waking at 04h00 this morning.....
and caught him before he collapsed in the passage
745) thankful my eldest is feeling a bit better
746) thankful for sunshine again today

Day 19
747) my kind neighbour giving me shake and re hydrating drinks for my sick boy 
748) getting an appointment today at the doctor for my two
749) my mum and her husband who pray faithfully for us every day

Day 20
750) a dear caring friend who sent her hubby over to deliver a pot of piping hot, wholesome and most delicious chicken soup and savoury muffins at lunchtime
751) my neighbour popping over for coffee and a chat and to see how the patients are doing
752) my mum in law collecting my teen boy and being "taxi" for him when he needed to get some things done
753) subsiding fevers
754) hubby taking over with dinner
755) my boy getting a wonderful letter of reference to add to his President's Award file today....
just beautiful

Day 21
(3 gifts of story)
756) story time...still happens in my house, so blessed that mine still love me to read aloud to them
757) knowing that my story is in His hands
758) His story.... a lamp to my path
759) phone calls from my mum and sister today
760) hubby making paella tonight, my brother and his family here, roaring fire, delicious pavlova brought by my sweet sister in law for dessert
761) blessed with bundles of wood for the fire

Day 22
762) first ripe tomatoes and gooseberries picked today
763) my boy being well enough to play with his friends again today
764) leftovers for dinner

Day 23
765) my gorgeous baby nephew gobbling gooseberries picked fresh in the garden today
766) my kind neighbour being mom's taxi for my kids today as hubby had the car
767) thankful for my amazing neighbour again this evening...
Our dog Roxy collapsed early evening, howling as if being attacked by numerous dogs. My neighbour was in my garden before I even got out of the house and she sat for two hours on the cold ground as it got darker and darker, comforting our dog, holding her and keeping us all calm until the vet came to examine her and medicate her. She did not leave until our Roxy was settled on a mattress (fetched from her house) in our bathroom. I am so thankful for her calm manner and care....an angel I am sure....

Monday, July 16, 2012

July's Joy Dare week 3

Life quickly becomes busy and full and it’s easy to pass by and
 not really noticing the little things to be thankful for. 
My life isn't perfect by any stretch.......
but it does have perfect moments for
which I am truly thankful to God for:

Day 10
(3 gifts in weakness)
feeling really full of flu today and weak but that means....
717) a gift of rest without feeling guilty
718) a gift of keeping warm indoors, bundled up against the cold winter weather
719) a gift of help with things that needed doing around the house... 
my sweet tween son picking up the slack as his brother and sister were out

Day 11
( a gift in a jar)
720) chocolate spread for the kids from their Oma...a real treat
721) lifts for the kids again when hubby had the car for the day
722) house full of teens this evening...happy kids

Day 12
723) my daughter treating me to lunch out today....very belated Mother's Day Gift
724) heart to heart chats with her
725) plans coming together for an exciting surprise

Day 13
726) having long overdue coffee with a dear friend
727) beautiful almost new, and some new clothes my daughter was blessed with today
728) extra kids again tonight, good food, happy, lots of laughter... oh and two more calling me mom!
729) sweet words from a sweet girl friend.... bringing smiles to my girl

Day 14
(3 gifts yellow)
730) giggling teen girls...both in yellow!

731) lemons from my mom in law's tree....lemon curd coming up!
732) tomato bushes covered in bright yellow blossoms....promise of a great harvest

Day 15
733) teen girls blessing us with a delicious breakfast of crumpets 
734) friends popping in
735) cosy, lazy day with the family all home while it was rainy and cold outside

Day 16
736) sweet baby nephew here again after the school holidays
737) friends helping me out with favours as I am pretty much housebound today with sick children
738) my monthly magazine arriving, a wonderful birthday gift from my mum that keeps on giving!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Foraging for Fungi

Recently we were invited by a friend to forage for fungi in a nearby forest.

 Despite the cold weather, it was a wonderful winter outing and we enjoyed learning about the different types of fungi. We were led by an expert from the South African National Biodiversity Institute who shared her vast knowledge with us.
 As we set off into the forest and there were delighted squeals as the children and adults found various fungi hiding in the sodden ground.

Small groups scattered here and there, filling bags and baskets with beautiful specimens. 

It was great to have my sister in law, as well as my eldest son and his friend along with us. 

One of the boys seemed to be hunting for more than just fungi.....

Five or six scorpions were collected in his sock and he had a snake in his pocket!
 (I must say, I am glad it was not my son collecting all the creepy crawlies!)

On our return to the the meeting place, the fungi was  laid out on a log and the expert began to help us identify the various specimens. Most were inedible types unfortunately, though we did discover the Pine Rings which I hope to pick some time soon!

The dye ball on the left was fascinating- it contains natural dye which when mixed with various additives, produces different colours from bronze to salmon pink.
The stink-horn on the right, apparently releases a foul smell of carrion, which attracts flies that then disperse the spores. I love the beautiful pink inside.

The specimens above look so beautiful but they are the deadly Death Cap. Apparently a mere 30g is enough to cause liver and kidney damage and then death. 

All in all a wonderful couple of hours outdoors! 
Perhaps next week we will read about fungi in our Handbook of Nature Study and see if we have any specimens in the garden to record in our notebooks.

Monday, July 9, 2012

July's Joy Dare into week 2

Thankful for the blessings in my life....

Day 3
(a gift in faith, family, freedom)
689) faith : knowing this
 " He holds it all in His hands- including me" 
Sally Clarkson
690) family: family near and family far, being a part of family is just such a blessing
691) freedom : freedom that has come with school holidays 

Day 4 
692) enjoying celebratory cake and coffee at my neighbour' s birthday celebration
693) the kind lady who pushed my grocery trolley forward in a long queue so I could dash to get something  I had forgotten
694) a postponed appointment, making things less stressful for me as I rushed from pillar to post today
695) my sister in law having my youngest for the afternoon and the older two hanging out with their friends they haven't seen in a while
695) popping in at my neighbour again for hubby to wish her and being invited to "join the gang" for dinner...
just perfect as it was late , dark and cold by the time we got in tonight
696) enjoying some reading aloud to my youngest after a busy day

Day 5
697) beautiful sunshine to dry the day's washing
698) finding an item I needed without too much trouble
 (thanks Mum for your recommendation!)
699) the hairdresser trimming my fringe at no cost
700) spending a little time out with my daughter, just us girls
701)  popping past to see my gorgeous baby nephew toddling all over his garden and sweet baby kisses from him
702) my teens' friends calling me mom and feeling comfortable and relaxed in our home, 
so much so that two of them spent the evening here and had dinner with us even though my own were out!
703) a lovely surprise box of goodies delivered to my door today from Home Tester Club

Day 6
704) being there when our friends signed the legals for their marriage
705) the joy and excitement and stress of getting things done for their covenant celebration tomorrow
706) celebrating my dear friend's 40th birthday tonight...
dancing the night away until my feet ached, 
kids all joining in the fun,
 good time with friends, 
good food , 
great party!

Day 7
(a gift of challenge, conflict, change)
707) wow these 3 things - challenge, conflict and change summarise the beauty of the wedding hubby and I were honoured to be part of today!
 Best man and maid of honour for dear friends who were married again today for the second time to each another, 
an amazing miracle gift of forgiveness, reconciliation and grace!
708) the pleasure of doing the wedding flowers and bouquets,
 and the bride being happy with them
709) sunshine.... 
the rain staying away for the wedding when storms were predicted
710) watching our three dance the night away again 

711) celebrating their 45th anniversary with my aunt and uncle today
712) safe journeys there and back as the heavens poured rain down on us
713) enjoying delicious red velvet wedding cake with my tea tonight

Day 9
714) a day with no plans except what I feel like doing...
 just as well as I am not feeling too well and am grateful for the rest
715) lifts for my children to friends today, a blessing as I don't have the car today
716) roses everywhere....
given to me after the wedding to enjoy in our home

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Slow Living Month 6 : June 2012

June seems to have come and gone in a flash. I had visions of having more time to knit, make cards and read but it seems that the kitchen has been the main focus. Perhaps it is the cold weather that makes us feel the need for more comfort food.

June seems to have been the month of curries and soups, real winter warmers! 
Soups: chicken soup, lentil and vegetable soup, butternut and orange soup as well as a spicy potato soup. Sometimes the recipes are doubled up to feed us for than one meal.
Curries: traditional mince curry with rooti on more than one occasion as well as chicken curry, the recipes spiced up here and there as I enjoy experimenting with flavours.
I made one of hubbies all time favourites too, Greek Moussaka. And as we have had a great broccoli harvest, I made a delicious broccoli and chicken bake as well as our first broccoli salad of the season.
Breakfast bakes of apple and oats and cinnamon have been the norm, double batches alongside dinner, in the hopes they will last a few days....

My resident baker daughter has had great fun baking with oranges and lemons : orange or lemon , coconut and poppy seed cakes which have her brothers begging for more, as well as a lemon desert. She has had fun making apricot squares and sometimes a batch of spinach and sun dried tomato muffins to go alongside soup at dinner.

I think the craze for curry and all things spicy was due to our recent outing to the Bo Kaap where I stocked up on lentils, leaf masala, cassia, cumin, grated coconut and more when visiting the aromatic Atlas Trading Company in Bo Kaap...we will be back there again!

I have been doubling up on some recipes too specially since one of the local shops had good specials on minced beef. One for the table and one for the freezer. I really should do this more often!
I try to send Hubby to work with a good lunch, so most days I make sure that I have cooked enough to send him off the next day with a healthy leftover lunch. Sometimes perhaps there is enough for two days worth of lunch. I know he prefers this to the normal peanut butter on bread.

As usual, I made the chili jam for my eldest as well as 3kg of onion marmalade. 

We are really enjoying it with many of our meals. Specially good to jazz up a cheese sandwich with some fresh rocket and basil from the garden or on home-made burgers.
I tried my hand at marinated roasted peppers too : a real winner!
My daughter made a delicious batch of sweet and sticky lemon curd. The third jar is almost done so we will need to make more!


As I need to package orders for my little business, I have been reusing boxes, 
cutting them to size for my packaging.

This is one area I really need to investigate, but for now we compost our kitchen waste
 and recycle what we can.

Harvested  and enjoyed broccoli, kale, spinach, mustard greens, herbs, spring onions, peas and chillies.

As it is winter, there is not much that can be planted now. My neighbour gave me some broccoli seedlings and I am hoping they will do well. We also visited a local organic nursery and I bought some lettuce seedlings.

Kids created beautiful cards for Father's Day and my daughter has been creating more felt elephants for our next cultural exchange packs. She had forgotten how to knit so I have spent some time reminding her of how it is done and continued with my own knitting. I hope to post a photo of the completed item at the end of this month!

Much of the reading has been school related once again. The younger two and I have been enjoying reading about Egypt, Arabian Nights for kids and some South African folk tales. 
I have enjoyed the relevant blogs on being a mom, home educator, simple living and gardening as well as inspirational blogs. Now and then I have escaped into my current novel.

Some days we car-less and then we take a walk to the local shop if needed or the post office. Or perhaps just to take my baby nephew for a walk when he is here which is now about three times a week. 
My eldest teaches karate near by and he often uses his longboard to get there and back if the weather allows when we don't have a car. He also uses it to get to his nearby weekly Afrikaans lessons. This all of course saves petrol and gives us a bit of fresh air and exercise. Thankfully our kind neighbour helps out with these short trips if the weather is bad.On the days I do have a car, I plan my trips carefully, combining lifts for children with various errands.
My daughter has babysat in exchange for sewing again this month and she made herself a skirt which she was very pleased with. Lovely to see her enjoying learning something new.
A friend recently invited us along on an outing to forage for mushrooms in a nearby forest. It was a wonderful morning of learning and fun with friends. 

We had an expert teaching us how to identify the various mushrooms and I was just a little sorry I didn't know which were safe to collect. I had envisioned coming home with a basketful for dinner! 
Perhaps next time around.

When looking back, June came with some good things. Most importantly, Hubby started working again after being unemployed for the last 18 months.
 Special times have been enjoyed in June. One that stands out was an outing to the Bo Kaap. It was a wonderful day enjoyed by myself and the kids.
We celebrated Father's Day with a special breakfast and gifts and cards for hubby.

There has been rain, cold weather and warm fires. 
Mild winter sun graces us now and then and we have enjoyed some time outdoors too.

  School has been out since 22nd so we are enjoying a slower pace to our days, 
catching up with friends, relaxing and enjoying doing some of the things we often don't
 have the time to do.

Thanks again Christine for the opportunity to look back on June and link up to Slow Living Month by Month.

Cultural Exchange - parcel from Arizona

More excitement came our way last week when we received a most interesting package from Arizona, USA!
The pack was put together by a Montessori school teacher of 25 children. It is such a wonderful representation of the area they live in and we look forward to learning so much from this parcel!

The area they are  from is part of the Valley of Sun in the Sonoran Desert. Included in the pack was a delightful Dover colouring book, "The Sonoran Desert by Day and Night". We look forward to learning about the abundance of unusual creatures and plant life in the desert. The book is filled with the most beautiful realistic illustrations and follows animals and plants through a 24 hour cycle.

The second book , "The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit", has the most delightful illustrations. It is written in English and Spanish and tells the story of the animals in the south-western desert as they witness the race between these two creatures. Though my children are bigger, I know they will enjoy the illustrations and hearing this story told in a new way. Perhaps one day I will be reading the story to my grandchildren!

We also received a pack of Saguaro Cactus seeds, their state tree.  Apparently we should not expect these to grow too fast and they can live up to 250 years, growing more than 70 feet high. 
The area is also home to many Native Americans , including Navajo, Hopi and Apache. 
It is going to be fun learning about Native American culture and traditions.

Also included in the parcel were the following:
A letter
USA Flag
( I just know my daughter will enjoy making this!)

We are so enjoying this wonderful way of learning about the people and places in the world around us. Thank you Arizona for this exciting learning experience!

Culture Swapper

Monday, July 2, 2012

Last of June's Joy Dare and counting on

I can hardly believe June is over and we are heading into the second half of the year.
Only by His grace do I continue to choose to count His blessings and give thanks for what I have. 

day 26
(3 gifts in fabric)
661) cosy socks keeping my feet warm on this chilly day
662) warm blankets, wrapping and warming us as the rain buckets down outside
662) grateful to own a warm jacket on nights like these
663) a wonderful evening with friends, experiencing Ethiopian food and good strong coffee

day 27
664) another exciting cultural exchange pack from Arizona USA
665) shared costs of special prices on fruit and veg between neighbours
666)  warm sunshine after the heavy rains yesterday
667) long heart to heart with another mum
668) kids doing their chores without me asking

669) getting out with a friend and the kids to one of my favourite places for some
winter sunshine and fresh air
670) finding out that the cards my daughter left on consignment had sold well, earning her a little extra holiday pocket money
671) broccoli seedlings, a gift from my neighbours garden

day 28
(3 gifts eaten)
672) broccoli  harvested from my garden and eaten in a delicious chicken bake
673) onion marmalade my eldest helped me make this morning....
delicious on the mashed potato hubby made to go with the broccoli chicken bake
674) lemon curd my daughter helped to make.... 
spoonfuls of sweet, sticky deliciousness!

 day 29
675) a wonderful morning with all my kids....
out in the forest mushroom hunting and learning so much about His amazing creation
676)  my sweet daughter making lunch for everyone, pancakes with lemon curd
677) watching my baby nephew entertain the teens with his antics tonight
678) hubby making gourmet burgers for dinner....
 chasing me out of the kitchen and blessing me with a night off

day 30
679) breakfast shared with sweet girl friends
680) catching up with my mum on the phone today
681) hubby lifting kids to ice skating even when he feels like relaxing
682) teen son and his friends (as well as the mom who was lifting the boys back ) descending on our home unexpectedly for supper... hubby making extra pizza to feed the gang.....
good laughs, good fun and a new friend made

day 1
( 3gifts loved)
683) my hubby and our 3 kids
684) time spent with a friend this afternoon
685) seeing our kids enjoy the holidays....
relaxed time with no pressures or deadlines and enjoying their friends

day 2
( 3 gifts read - from Hello Mornings Challenge)
686) "He never forsakes"
687) " He inscribes us on the palm of His hand"
688) "Once we are His, He never leaves us"