Spring is knocking at our front door and with that, I thought it's time to come out of my Winter hibernation and return to the online world! I was thinking what would be the best way for everyone to catch up on what I (and to a certain extent Chris) have been getting up to these past few months. Why not share a few snapshots?!
On the topic of dogs, our old man, Juzzie, gave us a bit of a health scare that lasted from June through July.
We noticed that Justin was battling to eat his food - he's never battled to eat his food! We took him to our Vet who first advised us that he may have an infection of the gums, so round one was a course of antibiotics - which seemed to help at first but once the course was finished, the problem persisted. So back to the Vet we went, this time we were advised that he'd need to be booked in for a teeth cleaning session (which involved a general anaesthetic) - at this stage we were trying to eliminate any potential causes. So an overnight stay at the Vet and another course of meds ensued. He was okay for a few days before the symptoms returned.; by this stage, I was starting to worry as Justin has always been a healthy and happy dog - back to the Vet we went. After a thorough examination, he was finally diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disorder, which essentially means that where certain nerve endings connect with the next set of nerves, the connections are breaking down which in turn starts causing pain - in his case, it's in his jaw - thus preventing him from drinking and eating with content. If he was 10 years younger, we could have biopsied to find out what's causing it but because he's pushing 14 years old, our Vet recommended that there's not much we can do other than to keep him as comfortable as possible - which we are now doing with a daily dose of anti-inflammatory meds. He will be on the meds for the rest of his life.
Mia turned a whole 2 years old this month and Chris and I gave her (well, her dad Andre) a padded toilet trainer seat and a step up to help him when it comes to potty training her. Yes, it wasn't the most exciting gift to give but practical nonetheless!
When we moved into our house, some globes needed to be replaced. We were at PnP Hyper and found these globes that would stay on should there be an electricity cut. At just over R100 a globe we cringed but bought three for the kitchen area. As luck would have it, January through May we didn't have any power outages but low and behold, one evening in June the lights went out and boom!, our fancy globes kicked in and we had light in the kitchen. Mental note to self: buy some more for the rest of the house. Well worth the investment.
Aunty Helen and I took Candy for her annual check-up at the Vet. She can be seen chilling on our doggy seat cover on the back seat of Chris' Ford Ranger.
During the month I made two Polenta dishes - having never made anything with Polenta, I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was - hence the reason I made two variations during the course of the month! It was also the perfect excuse to use the Le Creuset ovenproof dish that Donovan gave as a wedding present to us.
I have no idea what 'PHENYLALANINE' is but Sprite Zero obviously felt it needed a little asterix - I'm too afraid to google what it is...
Saturday afternoon at the Durban Botanical Garden with friends!
There is always time for a cappuccino!
June also marks the beginning of us moving away from eating any red meat and pork - so it's seafood, chicken, ostrich and vegetarian meals from here on out. Sadly, no more perfectly grilled rib-eye steaks!
Another Nutbrown product to add to my vintage kitchenware collection.
So that's June all summed up in a few photos - now for July!
Until next time,
Ruby, just saying hello and keeping me company early this morning - love you, Ruby!
Last year for Chris' Birthday, I made a Red Velvet Cake for his office. I didn't stress too much, as it was only him, his PA and Admin Manager I had to worry about.
Last week friday, over drinks with Nush at the very chilled Unity Bar, Chris asked if I could make something for our office this year to celebrate his Birthday - I was sipping on my second Mojito and didn't give it a second thought before saying yes - it only dawned on me the next day that I had to cater for 12 people, so no pressure right? After hauling a few trusty baking books out of my recipe book bookcase the other night - I started pondering what to bake., I thought about a cake but for that number, I'd have to bake two - which isn't hard but not particularly exciting and I generally only bake cakes for home or when we're going to family (makes it easier to say, 'it doesn't look perfect but at least its homemade and it will taste delicious!).
I started thinking of the different things that Chris likes to eat. Both sweet and savoury - peanut butter / choc-chip and potato / cheese came to mind. So why not a dozen each of muffins?
Confirmed with Chris, decision made.
I await the taste verdicts from Chris later - it was my first attempt at trying these recipes - brave I know, but that's how I like to roll!
All ready for the office! Sweet and savoury.
Transporting made easy with this cupcake / muffin holder.
It is not only myself (14 April) and Chris (10 April) celebrating our Birthday's this month - my Aunt Bern and Chris' sister Julia both turned their respective one year older during the first week of April (Happy Birthday, again!) and my Mom and Aunty Helen celebrate theirs during the last week.
Chris' folks celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary later this week too - what an achievement - in a world where marriage is so disposable, it's heart warming to see couples who have taken their vows seriously and have made it work, through the good times and the bad. Congratulations! Love to the both of you.
I just love April, it's an in-between season month for us here on the east coast, summer is fading (well for those who are lucky like us to live in Kwa-Zulu Natal, we really only have two seasons - hot summer and mild winter) into the distance and autumn, bringing it's slightly cooler mornings and evenings in, is slowly indicating the onset of impending winter and all that that brings with it. I know spring is a magical time too, plants budding, everything coming to life again but it's autumn that captures my imagination - the leaves falling (bringing different hues of yellow and orange with it), things slowing hunkering down for the cooler months ahead. It's almost like the earth is saying; 'Listen here, it's been a super busy spring and summer - now it's time to start relaxing and in a short while I shall be napping - do not disturb until spring!'.
In a way, the various seasons can be compared to one's life too - spring representing birth and youth, summer easily the prime of your life, with autumn being mid-life and, ultimately, winter with old-age and death. I came to this realisation in the last two days and without the help of Chris by my side I don't know how I would've coped, well I'm still coping truth be told but baby steps.
Someone very special to me, a father-figure really, took ill - not unexpectedly - but totally unrelated to his illness that he was battling, on Chris' Birthday (of all days, right?) and instead of spending the afternoon with Chris (we had already visited the folk's house earlier that morning when the news broke) he encouraged me to go to the hospital to be with the two people who I fondly see as family (and I know the feeling is wholly reciprocated) and I am glad he did, I already knew by then that I wouldn't have had another chance to say goodbye, which I did with a kiss on his forehead as he lay there in the hospital bed - totally unaware of how much he was loved and respected - and the great sense of loss that has followed since his passing.
Rest in peace, Uncle Lenn - You will always have a special place in my heart.
Until next time,
We had a fairly quiet Christmas (truth be told, we always do) it was just the two of us, the hounds and Chris' folks - who came to visit for a few days - they brought the turkey and stuffing. So all I had to do was prepare the two salads we had with lunch and dessert.
Naturally some mince pies were also floating around and Chris was in charge of the bar!
I managed to prepare both the salads and the cheesecake on Christmas eve, all under my 'Recipes' tab, so I kinda took it easy on the day. I even had a sneaky gin and lemonade!
We opened a few presents, had a few laughs, ate some snacks and then had lunch.
Chris' dad manned the Weber and supervised the cooking of the turkey whilst the both of us popped in at the Durban Folk's place for a cup of tea and to give them their Christmas cake and a card from my mom.
I have been sick with flu for the last week or so (summer flu is the worst!) so hadn't had a chance to go visit leading up to Christmas - they both appreciated our visit - as much as we appreciated visiting them too.
Aunty Helen even gave Chris a huge hug and commented on how tall he was! I am glad we went to see them, they both mean so much to me - Aunty Helen managed to bake us a huge container of shortbread - she's really good like that!
So with whomever or wherever you found yourself on the day, I hope a good and safe time was had by all.
Nothing tells a story better than pictures!
Not particularly festive looking but I liked them nonetheless!
Coffee and homemade mince pies... To start the day, naturally.
The hounds also started the day off with a treat, a huge doggy biscuit - Cleo in the background anxiously awaiting hers!
Say hello to Ruby, she ate her treat quite quickly!
Tinsel down the staircase.
Santa, just chilling.
Our little nativity scene - we are not religious by any means but thought 'why not?' have it out instead of in some box packed away.
Just one more mince pie!
Aunty Helen's shortbread!
Table about to be set!
All set, ready to go.
The butternut and chickpea salad.
The mediterranean couscous salad.
Found some time to squizz through my latest cookery book, Thank You Chris!
Remember, You are loved.
and after 15 months of being engaged, I finally received my engagement ring! White Gold with 8 sneaky Diamonds along the side :)
Ended the day off with some peanut butter cheesecake!
I can't believe we're a week into 2016 already... May it be filled with all things exciting for each and everyone of us.
Now to find the energy to start packing - We are officially moving into the home we've just bought at the end of January - Yikes!
Until next time,
Well, technically it is not an ode, as described by the Compact Oxford English Dictionary; which states that it is meant to be a poem addressed to a person or thing, or celebrating an event - but I like the word and it will tie in with my post today.
So growing up in South Africa, most of us would associate custard with powder which comes out of a container and is cooked over the stove top with milk, right? I remember in the 90's (if I'm not mistaken and from what I can recall) one could buy pre-made custard at the shops, just ready to pour but it wasn't until I met Aunty Helen (whom I fondly call my Durban Mom as my real mom lives in the UK) in my early 20's, who emigrated to South Africa as a child from the Portuguese island of Madeira, the photo below is of her holding a Mother's Day treat that I sent down for her earlier this year, that I discovered baking, cooking and of course the Portuguese treat, Pastel De Nata (singular form for Pasteis De Nata).
If you've happened to pop into the Portuguese themed red and white coffee franchise where the staff greet you with 'Obrigado' as you leave, you'll recognise what they call Portuguese Tarts at their deli counter - the correct name for them is Pasteis De Nata and Aunty Helen taught me how to make them many years ago and I have adored them ever since, naturally convenience wins over making them yourself from time-to-time but as a special treat they are really worth the effort making them yourself - you could use store bought ready-to-roll puff pastry, but as I always say, in for a penny in for a pound - please see my 'RECIPES' page for my recipe, did I mention I really enjoy baking and cooking. My recipe book library is constantly growing! From second-hand store finds to new books.
Both Aunty Helen and her husband, Uncle Lenn (let's just call them 'The Folks' from now on) live just up the road from us and they are truly special people - always generous with their time and kindly offer advice and moral support in whatever way they can - it happens to be their wedding anniversary this coming Saturday, 31 October 2015 - not many couples can say they have been married for 51 years - yes - 51 years! The photo below is of them on their special day.
So, in closing just want to say a huge Thank You to my Durban Mom for showing me that it is ok to experiment with baking - there will be flops and mistakes made - but that nothing tastes better than a homemade cooked or baked treat, also knowing what goes in to the end product is infinitely better than store bought treats - even though I am guilty of the odd shortcut - but as I said sometimes time doesn't allow for hours in the kitchen. The main thing is that at least (time permitting) I would rather try and bake it myself rather than just popping out to the store to buy something. So get into the kitchen and give baking and cooking a go!
Also, what a milestone to reach, 51 years of marriage - I can't think of a more loving couple that deserve many more years together. Congratulations! Love the both of you dearly.
Until next time.