Saturday, March 30, 2013


Recently our nature club organised a visit to Babylonstoren. Most of the members could not make it but we decided to go anyway and it was a wonderful treat, despite being delayed for about 2 hours due to traffic!

 It is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms located in the Drakenstein Valley which was originally inhabited by the Khoisan people. After the arrival of the French Huguenots, and the expansion of the Cape Colony, the farm was granted to the burger Pieter van der Byl in 1692. He laid out the first vineyards on the farm.

Guests are free to stroll around the farm and explore. We explored a tiny part of it, as the farm is 200 hectares. The fruit and vegetable garden (8 hectares) is where we spent most of our time.

 I stopped to ask one of the gardeners if they sell the produce and he informed me that the produce is used in the two restaurants on the farm. My little veg garden is so small and produces so little in comparison to this wonderful garden!

I was amazed to see Sunflowers in full bloom as mine have long since been dead and dried out for next years planting. I will certainly sow more seeds later in the season next year. 

This garden has a formal structure and over 300 varieties of plants are grown, all edible. The children were delighted to receive a map of the garden and set about exploring and finding different areas.

We caught up with them after they sped off and found them playing hide and seek in the prickly pear orchard. 

 Water is fed into waterways that run through the garden. This was a great relief for me as my shoes broke not long after we arrived. I could walk in the water channels or on the raised walls, instead of the paths which really hurt my feet!

We stopped to watch some beautiful birds flitting around and the children discovered nests of their own.

I could certainly do with a nest of my own.... a quiet spot to relax in!

The farm shop was a delight to explore too. One can purchase wines from Babylonstoren as well as surrounding wine cellars. Hand-crafted cheeses and delicious cold meats alongside freshly baked artisan breads would be perfect for any picnic! Freshly picked fruit from the farm was available too. Various preserves and handmade soaps and so much more to delight the senses. The kids enjoyed the dried pumpkin sprinkled with castor sugar.

 I was thankful to leave with belated birthday gift for my sister (rhubarb and plum preserve and some dried pumpkin) as well as a loaf of bread that had an entire garlic bulb baked into the middle of it. My friend chose the cheese and spring onion bread as well as a Merlot sour dough bread....all delicious!

There is plenty to do at Babylonstoren. One can stay overnight at the farm hotel and guests can make use of the spa, gym and swimming pool. There are daily guided tours of the garden, guided cellar tours that take one through the wine making process from the vineyards to the bottle, and then wine tasting. Guests can canoe on the farm dam, hike up the koppie or cycle through the vineyards. It is also a birdwatchers and photographers paradise. Something I know I would truly enjoy is a return visit to enjoy a meal at one of their restaurants.This is certainly a wonderful piece of paradise worth visiting if you have never been. Linger a little or perhaps a lot longer.....

Culture Swapper

Friday, March 29, 2013

WCS Easter Mini Swap

Recently Worldwide Culture Swap announced another mini swap, this time for Easter. We so enjoy taking part in these swaps and were matched up with a family in USA. After discovering they have 3 sweet little ones, I asked my daughter to make some finger puppets for them.

We included some stickers, chocolates and cute little bunny masks for the children to make.

Though Easter for us is not all about chocolate bunnies and eggs, we still enjoy eating them of course!
We sent an Easter card, explaining how we celebrate Easter, and packaged it all into an African animal themed bag.

We are thankful for our risen Lord and Saviour and the enormity of His sacrifice for us. 

Culture Swapper

Joyfully counting on

Counting His blessings in my life....

Day 19
 gifts eaten
1373) last piece of delicious bread baked by my youngest yesterday , thankful the kids hadn't finished it
1374) meal shared with hubby over looking the ocean

Day 20
 gift that made me laugh
1375) laughter shared with friends as we enjoyed a simple meal together under the stars tonight

Day 21
1376) thankful that our daughter arrived safely at youth camp
1377) and a gift just right .....surrounded by friends and family today

Day 22
gifts found in His word
1378) Psalm 139: 1-5
Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

1379) Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honour to His name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honour me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord


1380) a wonder-filled day exploring Babylonstoren 

Day 23
3 gifts found in women today
1381) thankful for a brief chat with my mum
1382) blessed to see my longest standing friend from my childhood days
1383) blessed to sit and chat with my aunt, such a gentle soul

Day 24
3 gifts spoken
1384) thankful that hubby asked me for help
1385) thankful for conversations with my friend
1386) thankful to hear my daughter's happy chatter again after her safe return from camp

Day 25
1387) knowing this....."His goodness and mercy pursues me all the days of my life"
1388) thankful for my dear neighbour who cooked a turkey for us today when my day was overflowing.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Counting rainbows, not thunderstorms

Continually counting my blessings...

Day 12
a gift in wind, in water
1360) a gift in wind...coolness on this scorcher of a day
1361) in water.... running water in our home, thankful we don't have to walk kilometres to get it

Day 13
a gift round
1362) round trip to town and back with my eldest son.... time to connect and chat

Day 14
gift found in silence
1363) solitary walk on the beach, sand underfoot and pink skies above
1364) white roses on our 21st wedding anniversary

Day 15
1365) blessing of friends and family who care and are always there for me and mine

Day 16
1366) hard eucharisteo..... difficult but necessary conversations that bring hope 
1367) wonderful prize of a bag of books delivered to my home

Day 17

1368) a walk on the beach with a dear friend, afternoon braai at family friends and St Patrick's day celebrations in the evening with the neighbourhood

Day 18
1369) a gift red....

Photo: Freshly picked :)

...freshly picked today :)
1370) a slower school day, but learning none the less
1371) two youngest cooking up a storm in the kitchen, dinner made by them
1372) friends helping out with lifts for kids

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paper making fun

My youngest and I had some hands on fun making paper for the life science curriculum he is working through. The objective was to discover how paper can be recycled. 

He shredded some old newspaper and placed it in a large bowl. It was covered with water and left to soak for ten minutes. While it soaked, he mixed a quarter cup of water with 6 teaspoons of cornflour.

He removed the newspaper from the water and blended it with the cornflour and water mixture. Just to be different, he added some mustard seeds once the mixture had been blended. To make interesting paper, one could add tiny dried flowers or a little food colouring if desired.

We then covered a cooling rack with and old stocking and he spread the pulp out over the rack.

The pulp was covered with wax proof paper and excess water was squeezed out by rolling the pulp out, making it flat and thin. 

It was a beautifully warm day and the rack was placed out in the sun for the paper to dry thoroughly.  This could take a day or two in colder climates.

Within a couple of hours, it was totally dry and he could gently peel his handmade paper from the cooling rack. The paper had a light grey colour. It could be used to made cards or gift tags or in this case, it can be planted in the garden and mustard greens should grow!

Culture Swapper

It was great fun and I am sure we will make paper again.

Baby Bananas...

In keeping with my sister's philosophy of "USE-IT -DON'T LOSE IT" , my daughter and I had fun using up some miniature bananas. These bananas were hanging over the wall near my veg garden. I had asked hubby to ask our neighbour if it was OK for us to pick some. The neighbour is hardly home and hubby had no luck in getting his permission. Every day I noticed the bananas getting riper and riper, and the birds were beginning to eat them. I figured they would eventually just rot and fall into my garden so I took the liberty of helping myself to a few....

They are delightfully sweet and the flesh has a pinkish tinge. Perfect for an in between snack, and perfect for making some healthy banana bakes that the family would enjoy....even those who don't eat bananas!

I made banana bread, a firm favourite in our family, though I am not too fond of it. 
Here is the recipe I used :

8 mini bananas mashed
80ml melted butter
180ml sugar
1 beaten egg
5ml vanilla essence
5ml baking soda
375ml flour

Mix mashed banana and melted butter together.
Add all other ingredients except flour. Mix well.
Finally add flour and bake at 180 C for about an hour.

My daughter made some oatmeal and raisin cookies which were truly delicious!

Here is the recipe:

1 cup oats
1 cup mashed banana
half a cup of peanut butter
2.5ml cinnamon
5ml vanilla essence
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all the ingredients and don't eat too much dough...
Shape into balls and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.
A healthy snack that disappeared in no time at all!

Glut of Granadillas...

Besides our own harvest, which was not too large, we received a shopping bag full of granadillas from my sister's mum in law. A delicious blessing!

I shared some with my neighbour and she made some granadilla sorbet and in turn, shared it with us.  It reminded me of the granandilla ice lollies we enjoyed as children....
 but the sorbet tasted so much better!

My daughter tried her hand at granadilla butter, similar to lemon curd, but made with granadillas.

It is very simple to make and delicious over vanilla ice cream. 

Here is the recipe if you would like to try it yourself :
130g butter
2 cups granadilla pulp
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
Put all ingredients, except eggs, into a double boiler and bring to the boil.
Remove from heat and allow to cool down a little.
Beat eggs and then add to cooled mixture while stirring.
Return to heat, stirring all the while until mixture thickens.
Remove from heat before the egg curdles.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Multitudes on Mondays

Grateful thanks over the past week.....

Day 5
1342) joining my friend who always invites me to join her doing market research

Day 6
1343) invitation to coffee and laughs with two friends

1344) wonderful surprise after a disappointment
1345) hugs from my youngest when he decided I needed that right then and there

Day 7
3 gifts in the kitchen
1346) lunchtime chats shared with my daughter
1347) a pot of soup that turned out just right, shared with my brother and his wife this evening
1348) fruit and veg sent home with hubby by his Mom this evening, looking forward to sharing the avo tomorrow with my daughter

Day 8
2 gifts loud
1349) loud guitar playing coming from my eldest's room as he practised for a Coke ad casting
1350) loud squeals of delightful laughter from my sweet baby nephew as he played with his big cousins tonight
1351) blessing of the gift of a hair cut for my daughter today.... 
and having my fringe trimmed so I can see again :)

Day 9
1352) my youngest's delight at taking part in the junior Argus bike ride

1353) impromptu coffee and chats with the neighbours this evening

Day 10
 gift in Christ
1354) seeing and watching my daughter grow in Him
1355) the joy of my baby nephew here again tonight
1356) finally getting to catch up with my mum on the phone again after trying numerous times

Day 11
3 gifts read
1357) a beautiful message of love and thanks from my daughter last night
1358) gift of good news in an email
1359) "Everyone gets to decide how happy they want to be. Because everyone gets to decide how grateful they are willing to be..." Ann Voskamp's words, always a gift.

Slow Living Month 2

Life has been full of all sorts so my post for February is a little late, but here it is . Thank you Christine of Slow Living Essentialsit is good to look back on the month once  again.                         .
We enjoyed ratatouille made from scratch with aubergines from one friend, tomatoes from another and peppers and courgettes from our own garden.
A delicious granadilla cheesecake, using granadillas from our vine, was shared with friends at our Valentine's dinner.
My daughter and I made butternut fritters for lunch on a couple of occasions. 

Where possible, double batches of mince with added vegetables were made, some for eating right away and some for a quick and easy freezer meal on a busier day.
My son enjoyed the usual batch of chili jam.
I harvested all my basil and made basil pesto as well as a large batch of basil and olive oil paste which I froze in ice trays for later use in winter soups or stews.
My pepperdew bush finally gave me enough to make one jar of pickled pepperdews. 
My daughter tried her hand at granadilla butter which went down very well, served on pancakes with ice cream....

 decadently delicious!

The usual recycling of paper and glass took place.

I enjoyed sipping on borage tea. It is known to alleviate melancholy and fatigue. I rather enjoyed the fresh taste of it.
In the garden, I cut back my lemon balm and sprinkled it around new seedlings. Apparently this offers protection against many bugs that would otherwise enjoy munching on the new seedlings.
Grass cuttings were used to mulch newly planted beds.

My neighbour introduced me to a new nursery. What a treat!  I planted:
 red basil, soup celery, spring onions, lettuce, different varieties of chillies, broccoli, spinach, leeks, onions and marigolds. 

We enjoyed the months harvest:
 pepperdews, red cabbage, red onions, granadillas, tomatoes, beans, corn, marrows, chillies, first gooseberries, a tiny butternut, green peppers, spinach, lettuce and herbs.

I finally began knitting a scarf after having bought the yarn some time ago.
After last months craft class where the girls made felt elephants, my daughter was asked to make 10 miniature felt items on order. They needed to fit into a match box, so they were considerably smaller than her usual felt creations..... 

They turned out beautifully and the recipient was thrilled.

 Her craft club girls made hanging chalkboard hearts this month.
It was lovely to see how individual each creation was. 

Food, garden and crafty blogs and sites have been enjoyed. 

I joined another "Hello Mornings Challenge". The aim is to be up before the children, spend time in personal Bible study, exercise and planning for the day. There is a daily on-line check in and a great Bible study on hope. Some days were better than others...
My little nephew has been spending more time with us again and it has been a pleasure to have the little man around the house. 

 Life was embraced and many moments enjoyed!
Moroccan evening with fire dancers.
Valentine's dinner with the neighbourhood.
An art exhibition of some of my Dad's work.
Celebratory birthday tea for my God daughter.

Jambo...our gorgeous rescue pup came into our home and has fitted right in.
A picnic and evening under the stars enjoying an open air Shakespeare play.
Food from around the world at the annual Community Chest Carnival.... 
especially the Dutch food!

And of course snatches of time under the big blue sky....

Slow Living 2013 - Month by Month

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Finding joy and counting gifts

Time passes by with a flurry of activity and the past couple of weeks have had their own pressures. Seeking out and counting gifts daily helps me to slow down, even if only in my mind. A time to pause and find the good and perfect gifts within each day, no matter what else the day may have brought...

Day 19
1302) plan B for from my bed as I was not feeling well but thankful that we still got some work done
1303) gift of strawberry runners from a friend
1304) gift of a "brand spanking new out the box" vacuum cleaner from our incredible neighbours and an outside security light
1305) gift of a bag of ripe granadillas from my sister's kind mom in law

Day 20
gifts at
1306) breakfast...forgiveness from my sweet girl after I had blown it last night
1307) gate motor installed and working better than the one that was recently stolen
 and security light installed by our neighbour this afternoon
1308) dinner...oldest son cooking again tonight

Day 21
1309) our neighbour kindly lifting us out to Gordons Bay to fetch Jambo....

.....our beautiful rescue pup
1310) pancakes at lunch enjoyed with granadilla butter and a table full of friends and family
1311) seeing my sweet baby nephew, him swimming with cousins and gobbling ripe tomatoes from the garden

Day 22
1312) a gift that changed today... His timing
1313) coffee with a friend and a visit to Little Stream....a little piece of heaven on earth

Day 23
1314) His strength not mine

Day 24
1315) church this morning with the family.... precious message
1316) prayers of agreement 
1317) hubby cooking today
1318) sweet baby sleeping next to me tonight 

Day 25
1319) unexpected lifts for kids

Day 26
1320) picnic dinner in the park with friends and Shakespeare open air theatre tonight....
 good to laugh and enjoy time with family

Day 27
 a crazy day full of blessings....
1321) coffee with my cousin and his wife
1322) kindness extended by an acquaintance who offered my daughter a lift
1323) paving around our pool finally being seen to
1324) a friend arriving unexpectedly to walk our dog
1325) meeting and making new friend
1326) a house full of youngsters from church here for the evening
1327) thankful my neighbour helped me log onto her internet when ours was down

Day 28
a gift from the past that enables me to trust the future...
1328) His unwavering faithfulness no matter what
1329) thankful for chats with my far away big sister
1330) thankful for a welcome escape from the week's pressure: 
enjoying the carnival with family and friends tonight and eating good Dutch food!
1331) overhearing my eldest comment that he feels privileged to have been home educated

Day 1
1332) school outing with all my kids this morning
1333) a new perspective and hope

Day 2
1334) quiet time on my own after a topsy turvy week
1335) gift of a new collar for our dog
1336) hubby making supper tonight

Day 3
1337) wandering about with my daughter, enjoying art on display and seeing my dad
1338) sweet baby nephew here for the evening, new words constantly, kisses and cuddles from him
1339) call from my farm sister

Day 4
1340) thankful for relief from today's intense heat....
sitting with my feet in the neighbour's pool as my youngest and his baby cousin swam together
1341) thankful for shared dinner with neighbours and family