Friday, August 31, 2007


Princess Diana: 1961-1997

Fridays Feast 158


Appetizer

Who is the easiest person for you to talk to?

My friend, Gerda. Gerda is an amazing listener - one of those people who has the ability to listen without giving unasked for advice and she'll always ask for follow-up on an issue, so that you know that she really listened and cared.


Soup

If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose?

Probably Greece, I get the impression it was very refined and yet decadent - not that I am a historian mind you ;-)


Salad

What is the most exciting event you’ve ever witnessed?

Without a doubt the births of both my daughters.


Main Course

If you were a celebrity, what would you do for a publicity stunt?

I'd emulate Oprah and do these amazingly good deeds and receive loads of recognition for it - she's doing something worthwhile, which is a lot more than can be said for the likes of La Lohan or Paris!


Dessert

What do you consider the ideal age to have a first child?

I am very glad that I had my daughters young - I had Rox a month before I turned 22 and Paula when I was nearly 28. My only regret is that Grant and I never had some time as a newly married couple to just enjoy married life. I'd say the ideal age would probably be about 23 or 24. I would not have wanted to have kids after the age of 30.

For more delicious feasts visit Friday's Feast

Photo by Losiek

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Milk Tart

Milk Tart is a traditional South African baked milk custard tart, sprinkled with cinnamon. Very, very delicious.

MILK TART

Pastry:
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
2t baking powder
1 egg
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter

Filling:
4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ½ Tbl flour
2 ½ Tbl cornflour
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 Tbl butter
cinnamon

Pastry: Cream butter and sugar and add eggs then sieve in dry ingredients. Mix until a firm dough forms. Refrigerate for a while (to prevent pastry shrinking when baked). Line 2 pie dishes with the dough. I find that I don't use all the dough, you want the pastry to be quite thin, so I press it into the pie dish very thinly as it rises a little when it bakes. Bake in oven at 200ÂșC for approx 12mins (watch it as it can brown very quickly!).

Filling: Put milk and butter in a saucepan and begin heating gently. Mix the rest of the ingredients to a smooth paste and add to milk, stir continuously until mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Pour into the pie shells and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Makes 2 milk tarts.

I prefer to make milk tart when the weather is cool as I don't like to keep my milk tart in the refrigerator - I find it softens the pastry.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Is there a perfect age gap?

sisters
There is a 6 year age gap between my two daughters. I never planned it that way, in fact I definitely wanted a much smaller gap, but due to circumstances beyond my control, 6 years it had to be.

My daughters are not at all close, unfortunately they have very little in common (apart from their wacky parents). Over the years they have learned to live relatively peacefully side-by-side (I’m tempting fate by saying this – tonight they will probably have the mother of all fights!), but you won’t often see them doing things together; which I find incredibly sad. I often wonder if this distance between them is a result of the age gap or more to do with personality?

Purely from a parenting point of view, I have found the large age gap between my children a blessing. I was able to devote a lot of time and attention to Roxy during the 6 years that she was an only child and then when Paula came along Roxy was just starting proper school and was very busy with her friends and all sorts of activities and she didn’t want my undivided attention as much, so I had plenty of time to give Paula one-on-one attention.

As the girls have grown older I have found that in some ways it’s like having two only children, if that makes sense. They are at such different stages in their development that you can’t lump them together at all.

Looking back, knowing what I know now, if I could have chosen a gap I think it would have been four years. I think that would have been a perfect age gap. What do you think?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I get that sinking feeling.......

If you look at the picture below you will see two gorgeous little girls spending a day with my family. It isn’t immediately obvious that these little girls are living with a death sentence, but unfortunately they are….. these two little girls are orphans who are both infected with HIV.



What saddens me even more is that they are among the lucky ones; they live in Rehoboth Children’s Village, where they are well fed, clothed, housed in comfortable homes and given the medication they need. There are thousands of children in South Africa who are not as fortunate.

The incidence of households being run by children as young as 10 years of age has increased dramatically in the last few years, due to the enormous number of adults dying as a result of AIDS. So too has the incidence of very young girls, even babies, being raped as a result of the myth that sex with a virgin cures AIDS.

I live in the province in South Africa with the highest incidence of HIV infection among pregnant woman. In 2006 an alarming 39.1% of expectant mothers attending antenatal clinics, in the area where I live, tested positive for HIV, that gives me a sinking feeling.

Visit Sunday Scribblings for more takes on this prompt

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fridays Feast 157


Appetizer

Say there’s a book written about your life. Who would you want to narrate the audio version?

Meryl Streep - I would trust her to get a proper handle on the South African accent!


Soup

Take the letters from your favorite kind of nut and write a sentence. (Example: Perhaps every avenue needs understanding today.)

Good grief! Suddenly I am not so keen on Macadamias anymore ;-)


Can A Sea Horse Ever Walk (I know, very, very lame!)


Salad

If you could go back in time and spend one week in another decade, which decade would you choose?

Many of my ancestors came to this country as 1820 settlers, so I would love to go back and introduce myself, and spend a week with them to see how they lived. I'd probably be very glad to come back to 2007 though!



Main Course

Name a song that brings back memories for you.

It's so hard to choose just one, there are so many songs that bring back memories for me. Off the top of my head, I'd say "Love is all Around" by Wet, Wet, Wet - it was my favourite song when I was pregnant with Paula


Dessert

Do you prefer to wash your hands in cold water or warm water?
Definitely warm water.
For more delicious feasts visit Friday's Feast

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Spinach!

spinach
Our veggie garden is coming along so nicely - although we still have to get a handle on this crop rotation business ;-) Today we harvested a lovely bunch of spinach. We are having beef stew with rice and creamed spinach for dinner tonight. Yum!


CREAMED SPINACH
1 medium potato
1 bunch spinach
½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper
1Tbl butter
clove garlic
30ml cream
¼ cup cheddar
pinch cayenne pepper

Cut a cross in the potato and microwave on high for 4 – 5 mins until done. Shred spinach and place in a dish with 30ml water. Microwave on high for 5 mins. Transfer spinach to a food processor add skinned potato, seasoning, garlic and cream and process until smooth. Sprinkle with cheese and cayenne pepper.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday's Feast 156


Appetizer
Describe your laundry routine. Do you have a certain day when you do it all, or do you just wash whatever you need for the next day?
I do laundry every day, otherwise it piles up and is a cow to iron!

Soup
In your opinion, what age will you be when you’ll consider yourself to truly be old?

70. But it is all relative, some people are old at 50, others are still young and active at 70 - it's a state of mind.

Salad
What is one of your goals? Is it short-term, long-term, or both?

I have a short-term goal to lose 3 kgs. (says Gill with a piece of dark chocolate in her hand..hmmm)


Main Course
Name something unbelievable you’ve seen or read lately.

I read in the paper yesterday about a bull elephant attacking the car of a well-known conservationist. There is a report on the story here. There was a photo in the paper of what the car looked like after the attack, let's just say that was one strong, angry elephant! Miraculously no-one was injured... that was one lucky conservationist!

Dessert
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how happy are you today?

Considering I am seriously sleep-deprived, I would say about 7.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Introverted

shy dog
I am by nature an introvert. It’s something I battled with growing up. Both my parents and my brother were extroverts, “life and soul of the party” kind of people, so I felt rather odd by comparison. I grew up feeling that being introverted was a handicap, a problem I needed to get over, a weakness in my character.

So what did I do? I married an extrovert and produced a couple of extroverted children! So here I am, once again, surrounded by extroverts, who are always encouraging me to be more sociable, to have people around, to go to this or that social function…. Once again I feel that my introverted nature is a weakness, a handicap. I also feel... guilty. Guilty, because I have this sneaking suspicion that I should be making more effort to socialise, for the sake of my family.
I have a small group of friends that I love dearly and I prefer to socialise within this small group; my family are more of the “a stranger is just a friend you don’t know” ilk. Truthfully, I can think of nothing worse than standing around, making small talk with a bunch of people I don’t know, the mere thought leaves me in a cold sweat - my family thrive on this kind of social interaction. Are you beginning to see the nature of my problem??

This whole conundrum has got me wondering to what degree I should accept my character and my natural inclinations and to what degree I should stretch myself and force myself to grow beyond my natural make-up, by doing things that are outside of my comfort zone?

I have accepted that I am an introvert, it is how I was made and I am quite comfortable in my skin. But should I be? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Photo by miguelb

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thai Red Curry

We decided last night, that this dish is our all time family favourite. We hadn't had it for a while and we all really enjoyed it last night. It is an easy dish to prepare, which is always popular in my book! How much of a burn it has depends largely on what type of Red Curry Paste you use. The paste I have at the moment is quite strong, so I use less. I once used a "Lite" coconut milk and the curry was really not nice, so I wouldn't recommend doing that.



Thai Red Curry


THAI RED CURRY

3 or 4 skinned chicken breast fillets
olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbs of red curry paste (approximate)
3 Tbs brown sugar
2 ½ dsp soy sauce
½ tsp chilli paste (optional)
1 tin coconut milk
green beans cut into pieces
coriander to garnish


Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and marinate with a dollop of olive oil and the lemon juice for about 15 mins. Fry the chicken until nicely browned and nearly cooked through. In a saucepan combine the coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, soy sauce, chilli and beans, simmer together and when beans are nearly cooked add the chicken to heat through. Serve with rice and garnish with chopped coriander. Can substitute 2 of the chicken breasts with a small packet of peeled prawns which have been boiled for a couple of minutes.

Photo by Minor9th

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Goosebumps

I am a self-confessed coward. I am, in general, afraid of most things. I don't like heights, I don't like speed, I am not crazy about the dark, I admire the sea, but only from a distance, I fly only when I have to, I don't watch scary movies, I am terrified of guns...... Which leads me to wonder why I still live in South Africa? I will definitely have to explore that in another post one day. But the thing that scares me more than anything else in the world would have to be snakes. Which again leads me to wonder why I live in South Africa...

Snakes freak me out! About two years ago my husband got up to let the dog out late one night and encountered a snake slithering down the passage towards my daughters bedroom. He calmly shouted to me to stay in bed - big mistake - I of course needed to know exactly why he was telling me to stay in bed, got up to investigate and completely flipped my lid when I saw him cornering the snake while my eldest daughter gleefully approached with the kitchen tongs!!

But the snake incident that gives me goosebumps to this very day occured a couple of months ago. We returned home one day to find a note stuffed into our garden gate, it was from a woman who lives on our block, informing us that she had lost her python. Her huge, ugly, monstrous, reticulated python had gone AWOL! Oh my word, this is not the kind of note I ever envisioned receiving from a neighbour.


python
I walked around with goosebumps the entire weekend, imagining this enormous python leering at me from every corner. My family were in fits of laughter, watching me surreptitiously peering into the trees and examining every dark corner I came across. What I would actually have done had I come across said python, apart from losing control of my bladder, I don't really know. I never had a decent night's sleep all weekend, but by the time Monday rolled around, I determined to put the python from my mind and carry on as usual.

Until the Thursday that is, when a photograph of the python in question appeared in our local newspaper. There it was in all its glory wrapped around the body of our neighbour. It was huge, it covered her from head to foot and was curled around and around her body. I stared at it with horrified fascination and pictured it lurking somewhere in my house, creeping onto my bed in the dead of night.... Sleep did not come easily to me for a few more days!

Whether or not the python was ever found I don't know. I actually hadn't thought about it for some time. In fact I'm kind of wishing I hadn't thought about it now....

Prompted by Sunday Scribblings

Photo by KhayaL

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday's Feast 155


Appetizer
What is your favorite kind of pie?

A traditional Cornish Pasty


Soup
Name something that made you smile this week.

A story that my youngest daughter, Paula, related to me last night after she got back from her friends house, it was a conversation between her friend and the friend's mom and went something like this:


Paula's friend Megan: "Mom what do we have that Adam and Eve didn't have?"


Megan's Mum: "Oooh Megan, lots of things; clothes, houses, cars..."


Megan: "Yes and belly buttons!"



Salad
What do you do to cool off when the weather is hot and humid?
We have hot and humid weather for months on end in the Summer, so we have learned to cope with it through sheer necessity. Air conditioning helps, but we don't have it at home :-( So I sometimes resort to shopping in the air conditioned mall purely out of self-defence!! Otherwise I swim at home.


Main Course
You receive $1,000 in the mail with a letter that says you can only use the money to redecorate one room in your home. Which room do you pick, and what do you buy to spruce it up?

Our bedroom needs a major overhaul, so I would definitely pick my bedroom. I would buy a new dressing table and headboard, with side tables to match.

Dessert
Fill in the blank: My _husband________ says _I stress too much_________, but I _can't help it_________.
More Friday's Feasts can be found here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bunny Chow

On a cold, wet day I crave warm comfort-food, something with a bit of “zing” to it. Tuesday was just such a day, so Grant went and got us a couple of Bunny Chows for lunch and they didn’t disappoint.

The Bunny Chow is usually referred to by locals as a “Bunny”. It is, quite simply, a hollowed out quarter loaf of bread, the cavity is filled with a good curry and the bread which was extracted from the centre (now called the “virgin”) is placed on top. The bunny is eaten by hand; usually the “virgin” is dipped into the curry and eaten first and then the balance of the curry is eaten, along with torn off pieces of crust. If you’re particularly hungry you can get a half or full Bunny and the curry can be either beef, mutton, chicken or bean.



Bunny Chow

The exact origins of the Bunny are not quite clear, but there is a theory that it was invented for the Indian caddies, working at the Royal Durban Golf Course, who were unable to get off from work for long enough to nip into Grey Street for a curry at lunchtime. The story goes that they got their friends to go and buy the curry for them and that it was brought back to the golf course in hollowed-out loaves of bread because there were no disposable food containers at the time.

Talk to any self-respecting Kwa-Zulu Natalian and they are bound have a “Bunny story” to relate; no doubt they will tell you about the hottest Bunny that they ever encountered, the tastiest filling they ever experienced and they will probably advise you as to where to buy the best Bunny. If you are ever in KZN, do yourself a favour and find a purveyor of good bunnies and get yourself one – you won’t be sorry!

Thanks to Allan Jackson for permission to use excerpts from his excellent article on Bunny Chow, published by FAD, which can be found here and for the use of his photo.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Inflammatory breast cancer

I think every woman's nightmare is to be diagnosed with breast cancer, which is why we all do monthly breast self-exams (you do, do monthly breast self exams don't you? If not, go and do one right now!) But I recently discovered that there is a type of breast cancer that does not manifest itself as lumps in the breast and it would therefore not be picked up in a breast self-exam.

Whymommy who blogs at Toddler Planet was recently diagnosed with Inflammatory breast cancer. With her permission, I have reproduced below her post on Inflammatory breast cancer, please read it and inform yourself about this dreadful disease.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Decisions

decisions
All of life boils down to decisions. Think about it!

We choose to play, or not. We choose to be educated, or not. We choose to work, or not. We choose to love, or not…..

It’s all about choices. If we go right back to basics, success in life depends very much on our ability to make a good decision. It’s a scary, but true, fact that the course of a life can be changed by a simple decision.

So how do we go about making these decisions? Some people consult with a Higher Power, they pray. Others leave it all to the flip of a coin. Some go with “gut instinct”. When I am faced with a really big, life changing type of decision I have been known to take no chances and rely on all three of the above!

What if we make a wrong decision? I’ve had many, many “What was I thinking??” moments. What I have come to realise (and it’s taken me a looong time to figure this out) is that a bad decision doesn’t make me a bad person. Most mistakes can be seen as stepping-stones, or as opportunities for growth, or at the very least, they can be filed away as lessons learnt.

Striving for perfection can be like chasing rainbows. I’ve given up on being so hard on myself, now I aim simply to do the best that I can with the opportunities I have.


For more scribblings on decisions visit Sunday Scribblings
Photo by Timothy Lloyd

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday's Feast

Appetizer
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how polite are you?
10. I am polite to the point of being painful. I consider it a weakness, I should be way more assertive.


Soup
What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
My daughter, Roxy, is one of those people who says really dumb things every now and again, without even realising it. She could definitely have carried off the lead in Legally Blonde!

Yesterday a bird was making a terrific noise outside our office, as she sits near the window, I asked her to look and see what kind of bird it was, she answered that it was a Bulbul, I said that I thought is sounded more like an Indian Mynah - her answer was "No, it's definitely the Bulbul, I know 'cause I can see its lips moving".

Bulbul

Salad
Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Eeyore

Main Course
Tell about the funniest teacher you ever had.
In Grade 6 and 7 I had a fantastic male teacher, his name was Mr O'Sullivan. He was a real character, a law unto himself. He did not believe in sticking to schedules at all, some days we did nothing but Maths, other days he would tell us long Irish folk stories all day. I'm sure the "powers that be" in the school tore their hair out over him. We loved him to bits. He had a fearful temper and when he got cross would lapse into this strong Irish brogue; but most of the time he had us in fits of laughter. Interestingly enough, despite his crazy antics and relaxed attitude, we left his class perfectly sound academically.

Dessert
Complete this sentence: I strongly believe that our children are our greatest blessings and should be treated as such.

Photo by: NatureAtYourBackyard

Thursday, August 02, 2007

They grow so fast...

Yesterday Rox applied for a job. She is hoping to get a post as a teacher's assistant at a local primary school next year, while she studies through correspondence for her teaching degree.

I am really battling to get my head around the fact that my "little girl" is going to be entering the world of the employed next year. I don't know where the years have flown. In my mind she should still be in primary school, and here she is, finishing high school in a few months.



How did she go from being this:incubator

To being this:sun city
in such a VERY short space of time?


Rox is so excited and eager to embark on this next stage of her life, her enthusiasm is quite infectious and I'm excited for her too. This is such an incredible time in her life, the future holds such promise. But I also have a sense of sadness. Only now that my daughter is testing her wings, do I truly realise how very precious the years we have with our children are. I wish I had fully understood how very, very fast my girls would grow up. I have often said words to the effect of "they grow so fast", but I don't think the reality of the statement ever really sank in.

I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time at home with my daughters. For the last 2 years Rox has homeschooled and we have spent lots of time together, but still I wish we had more time. I wish I had spent even more time during her childhood playing with her, talking to her, reading to her. I wish I had savoured each and every moment I spent with her instead of taking those moments for granted. I wish I had worried less about the minor details and had more fun with her.

Dealing with grief

I just read this amazing blog post by a mom who recently lost her baby. She gives real, practical examples of what to do/say to someone wh...