Thursday, January 19, 2017

Want to be a Road Warrior???

How awesome must it be to be young, energetic and free to roam?  (Not that I would actually want to trade my home and family commitments... although I'd be happy to shave a few years off my age!...but a girl can dream, right?)  What got me thinking about this is that the people at Cotopaxi have the most amazing opportunity for a lucky person to become their "Road Warrior", this person will travel throughout the US during the 2017 Questival tour.  The Questival is a 24-hour adventure race where teams compete in various exciting challenges (the challenges look incredible - bucket-list stuff!) and these adventure races are scattered literally right across the US, visiting every major city.  It looks absolutely amazing!

The fortunate person who becomes the Cotopaxi Road Warrior will get to road trip around the US, visit every major city, meet new people, visit state and national parks and basically have the adventure of a life-time.   I'm kinda green with envy.....  For details, click on the graphic below.

Cotopaxi road warrior photo cotopaxi_road_warrior_x2_v04 2_zpsmyq4mxc8.jpg

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Up, up and away...

The other day I was chatting to someone who does quite a lot of international travel  and she mentioned that she uses a travel agent to book her flights.  I was quite surprised by that.  In the past I would always use a travel agent to book our flights, but it's been a long time since I last did so.  It's so easy and convenient to book flights online, I personally can't see the need to use an agent, unless of course the itinerary is really complicated in some way.

For local flights I always book through Travelstart.  When I am in the planning stages of booking an overseas trip, I use Travelstart to get an idea of prices, carriers, routes, best dates etc.  Then, once I am settled on dates and destinations, I shop around.  I always make a point of checking Emirates and Qatar airlines as these two fly direct from Durban, we've had good experiences with them and they are usually competitively priced.  

Booking online is really straight-forward, you get to choose your seats, and meals, exactly the same as you would if booking through an agent, and you print your ticket at home.  You still need to check-in online and print your boarding pass beforehand, as you would if you booked through an agent.  

Obviously you need to be meticulous with details, making sure your dates and destinations are correct.  I heard a horror story of someone booking a flight to London, Canada instead of London, UK - now there's an expensive mistake!  Ensure that you are flying into and out of the correct airport - for example you don't want to fly into Lanseria airport if you are flying out of O R Tambo a couple of hours later.  It's also important to give yourself enough time in transit.   But, provided you are careful, there is really nothing scary about it at all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Blogs I love - the cooking edition

I have a weird relationship with cooking - on the one hand, the thought of having to cook a meal for my family to eat every evening is enough to drive me to drink, but on the other hand, I love searching for new and interesting recipes and experimenting with different flavours.  If I didn't have to cook every single day I think I'd absolutely love being in the kitchen, it's the relentless day-after-day-after-day of it that gets me down.  

As I said, I love finding new, interesting recipes to try out - trying something different seems to break the monotony of it all - so I have a long list of food blogs that I go to for inspiration.  There are two that have become firm favourites and that I turn to again and again when I want to cook something new:

Simply Delicious - Alida is a South African-based blogger, so that means the ingredients she uses are easy for me to source and I find her recipes suit my family, we seem to enjoy the same type of meals.  

Damn Delicious - Chungah's recipes really appeal to my family, some of them have become firm favourites that feature regularly on our meal rotation, they're also generally quick and easy to follow.

Monday, January 16, 2017

On my reading list for 2017

New year, new resolutions.  One of my resolutions for 2017 is to be a little more deliberate about what I read.  I love to read and I especially love romance novels and lately that seems to be pretty much all I have been reading.  It's so easy to start reading one book by a particular author and then, assuming you enjoy that book, to just continue to read books by that author. If you look at my Goodreads page you will see that I have been doing exactly that for the longest time now!  While I really enjoy most of the books I read, I think it would do me good to get out of my literary comfort-zone.

So, this year I decided to do the Reading Challenge on the Modern Mrs Darcy blog.  I'm doing the "Reading for Fun" option - don't want to scare myself off by being too serious first time around!

The books I've chosen are:

A book you chose for the cover: The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A book set somewhere you would like to visit: Heartland by Lauren Brooke

A book you've already read: Almonds and Raisins by Maisie Mosco

A Juicy Memoir: Talking as fast as I can by Lauren Graham

A book about books or reading: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

A book in a genre you usually avoid: Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha (I chose this one based on the review by Gina at A Bit of This, A Bit of That) 

A book you don't want to admit you're dying to read: I'm stumped with this one.  There's nothing I'm dying to read at the moment and if I was dying to read it, I'd be totally cool with admitting that... I'm hoping something comes up during the year.

A book in the backlist of a new favourite author: The Bad Luck Wedding Dress by Emily March (writing under the pseudonym Geralyn Dawson)

A book recommended by someone with great taste: Before we visit the Goddess by 

I'm really hoping that this challenge gives me the incentive I need to read some different genres.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A sad start to the new year

This year has got off to rather a bumpy start - we had to say good-bye to our Lilo-dog a few days ago.  We adopted Lilo, as an adult dog, when her owner emigrated in 2009.  She quickly became part of the family but developed a particular bond with Paula.  

Lilo was just the sweetest dog, so friendly and happy.  She lived to the ripe old age of 12 and was completely healthy until the last year or so, when her arthritis gave her a lot of trouble.  She developed a cough on New Years Eve and it turned out to be a symptom of heart failure.  Good-bye our Lilo-beast, thanks for being such a sweet and special member of our family.  Go well old girl.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in review

2016 is quickly drawing to a close and I thought it might be a fun exercise to look back over the year and see what I got up to.

This year I:

woke up early most mornings - I think it's old age, but it sure has its compensations

walked a stretch of the Camino and created a blog about the experience.  It was life-changing.

gained quite a lot of weight 😕

had to let go of some family relationships, it hurts, but when it's time to let go it's time to let go.

put down some roots - it's taken me a long time to feel comfortable in our "new" home, we've been here 3 years now and I can FINALLY say I feel at home.

survived home renovations - what a nightmare!  But we did it and I love our new bathroom.

Read 46 books

said good-bye to my precious Jackie-dog, it nearly broke my heart.  I miss that old lady SO much.

Love you my sweet Jax

said good-bye to my Uncle Ian. It was sad to say good-bye, but I know he is happily reunited with his beloved "Skaapie" at last.

spent many happy hours baby-sitting my darling Issy while her mom did a 6-month locum.

cruised on the Med with my whole family and my sister-from-another-mother, Lisa and her husband Trev - it was a dream come true.

swam in the Mediterranean sea with my precious Issy-boo.... pure bliss!!  Probably the highlight of my year.

Spent a week in Corfu doing this:

there is no better feeling!

discovered that in February 2017 I will be Nana to a baby boy!

Spent some time in the mountains with my lovelies

Found Imps a job in our area, so next year we will be seeing a lot more of him!

Imps and Issy sharing a joke

Did a pretty good job with my word of the year which was "Commit"

Subscribed to Netflix and binge-watched the entire Gilmore Girls from start to finish.

Fell in love with the Heartland series (also on Netflix) 

did lots of walking in the first half of the year, in preparation for our week walking the Camino - planned to continue walking when we got home, but that unfortunately didn't happen.

Although it's had its ups and downs, 2016 has been a good year. 

Looking ahead to 2017

I have spent a large part of the last two days reflecting on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017.  I spent several very happy hours completing  Susannah Conway's "Unravel the year" workbook, something I have done for the last few years and that I find really helpful for getting my focus right for the year ahead.  I also did some planning of my own- I figured out my word for 2017, worked out my goals for the year and generally dug around and decided how I wanted 2017 to look.  I love the feeling of having a focus, and intention for the new year.  I'm really looking forward to putting my plans into action.

My word for 2017 is THRIVE and I'm excited to see how that manifests in 2017.

December Reflections with Susannah Conway

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Traditions

I love having traditions, I believe it gives family-life a rhythm and a comforting sense of familiarity and security.  At Christmas time in particular we have a number of traditions that we do every year:

*Our Christmas tree goes up each year at the beginning of December.  Having said that, this year we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving (even though we have no connection to the USA whatsoever! 😊) and we put our tree up on that day - this worked really well for us and I think it could become a new tradition.  Whenever we travel I make a point of buying Christmas decorations in the places we visit - I love the memories that those decorations bring back as we decorate our tree.

*In mid-December, the girls in the family invite a couple of friends over and we spend a happy morning icing Christmas cookies.

* We visit at least one Christmas Market. This year it was the Shongweni Market.

Issy enjoying the play area at the Shongweni Christmas Market

* We always go to the Carols by Candlelight at our local SPCA.

* Between the 16th and 20th of December we bake our Christmas Cake.

* We take a drive and look at houses decorated with Christmas lights on about the 15th of December (these are few and far between in our country, but the ones that do decorate do a fabulous job of it)

* On Christmas Eve, the off-spring still living at home (that would be Paula!) open their "Christmas Eve present" of pyjamas.

* We read "Twas the night before Christmas" before we head to bed.

* On Christmas morning we get up early and enjoy a cup of tea/coffee with a Christmas Mince Pie as we open presents, with carols playing in the background.

* Our Christmas meal is usually a cold meal as it's generally extremely hot at Christmas time.  We have gammon, chicken and chipolata sausages with a selection of salads and a cold Christmas dessert.

December Reflections with Susannah Conway