Favourite things

I haven't done a "favourite things" post for quite a while, so I thought it was about time I did, especially seeing as I have found some new favourites to add to my list lately.

Aleppo Soap - I discovered Aleppo soap when I was researching what to take with us on our Camino and I'm so glad I did!  My family absolutely love it.  The situation in Syria just breaks my heart - to think that many of the factories that have been making Aleppo soap for centuries have been destroyed is so incredibly sad. Who knows how long we will still be able to get our Aleppo soap?  We are loving and appreciating it while we can.

Lindt Chilli - I have been a long-time lover of Lindt chocolate, but up until a few months ago it was the Mint variety that did it for me.... then one day I decided to give the Lindt Chilli a try and it was "Hello hot-stuff!" .... and "Bye-bye baby" to the Lindt Mint from that point on.  

Leuchtturm 1917 - I have been bitten by the Bullet Journaling bug (blog post to follow soon!) and, while we were in Europe, I treated myself to a Leuchtturm 1917journal to bullet journal in.  I am in love!  I can't imagine ever being without one again.

We are the Wildflowers Guide - my kiddos bought me this book for my birthday and I love it.   Although I am not vegan (I'm a vegan wannabe, but I sit on the pescetarian side of the scale) I find this guide SO helpful and have spent many happy hours poring over it and am loving the recipes and hints and tips it offers.  

Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream Lip Protectant Stick (now that's quite a mouthful!) - this was another birthday present from my kiddos (I'm a spoilt mamma!)  I have been a HUGE fan of Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream for the longest time, but lately I have become addicted to it.  I have the driest lips ever and I have been slathering the cream on my lips all day every day.  My girls then had the inspired idea of buying me the tinted lip protectant stick - it's amazing!  It keeps my lips beautifully moisturised with a lovely sheer hint of colour.  

That's it (for now), these are the things that are currently making me smile.

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. They will also help to distribute travel backpacks to each Questival participant, and these backpacks help to provide the most relief to the organizations Cotopaxi partners with.    (To read more about the humanitarian organisations that Cotopaxi partners with, click here.) So, not only will the Road Warrior be having a whole lot of fun, they'll be doing some good too. 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

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.

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.

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.

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.