Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blessed



Shannon
2 weeks from tomorrow til I see your lovely face and drink tea in my favourite kitchen (no matter how it looks)! I foresee a madeline baking in my near future... X!


5 hours ago ·  ·  · See Friendship



This is a Facebook message from Shannon who, as you can surmise, is coming from South Africa to visit in 2 weeks.  I can hardly wait to hug her, hold her, bake madeleines and do what she pleases in the 3 days I'll have her home!

What is less endearing about this time is that, due to circumstances out of my control, I'm having to sell my house and eventually move.  It is one of those times in my life when I get out of bed in the morning and do what I have to do to get through what feels like is another crisis.

Only, I have the most stellar friends in the whole wide world helping me, again, and I don't know what I'd do without their counsel, help {physical and emotional}, support and love.  You should have seen my house bustling with my friends and Susannah pitching in this past week, and they all have such busy lives. I am humbled beyond words.  And I am so blessed.  I was describing this pure Grace to my mother who then said :: "I hope you're thanking God!"  To which my answer was :: "Oh, yes I am!"

I am on my knees.

As far as my blog and my creativity....it's slowing down out of necessity for now.  It's impossible to get creative juices going to sew, craft, cook, or whatever when you have the responsibility of a move from a home you've lived in for 29 years, raised 3 children in, truly lived very busy lives to the fullest in and have accumulated too much stuff to sort through and pack.  Period.  I hope that in a few weeks, when the dust settles, I can devote the time again.

'til then... XO


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The things smoothies are made from



I typically don't indulge in smoothies.  Don't order them out.  Don't make them at home.  I can't afford the calories.

I've mentioned this little problem before, ahem  ::  the lack of sugary snacks to eat in this house!  It's intentionally rigged to not have temptations that will make me gain weight.

Tonight my sweet tooth was talking to me enticing me to look for a fix.
I looked in the pantry.  Nothing.  You ate all the Iced Zoo cookies, remember?
Nothing in the fridge OR the freezer...pretty desperate. I did, however, find a bag of frozen mixed berries.

Frozen berries in the freezer; homemade yogurt in the fridge....those are the things smoothies are made from.  I tossed half the bag of berries into the blender and a container of my homemade yogurt.  As it puréed, the yogurt became frozen from the berries and in no time the blender was labouring.  So I added milk.

What a delicious purply-raspberry colour.  A taste test revealed it was tart and not satisfying enough for a sweet tooth.  To be expected with....unsweetened berries and unsweetened yogurt. So I got out the sugar bowl and added some sugarrr!

What a treat.  Utterly d-i-v-i-n-e!  I'll have to remember this healthy way to satisfy a craving.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Well traveled

This has been an interesting week. 
It's only half over.
It feels as if I've packed a ton into it already. 
I said to someone that it feels like a rollercoaster.... it's moving that way, up and down, just like the stock market.

Today I came home to find a package literally stuffed into my mailbox.  
There was that momentary euphoria one gets when you think you're getting {a nice surprise} in the mail and in a nanosecond you wonder :: 
Who's it from?  What can it be?

I flipped it over and it took a few seconds to register.  
OH NO!! 
It can't be. 

This is the little dress I made for Rebecca 
and mailed to Australia in July...
late and no way then to make it in time for her birthday.
My niece told me a week ago that it still hadn't arrived. 
I was starting to really worry.
I've had things to Africa get lost stolen, but Australia?
I was pretty sure I had the right address.

But no, I'm one digit off the street number.
Their mailman didn't figure it out.
Oy.

I'll be making a trip to the PO tomorrow.  
I'll do it gladly because I want it to get there this time.
As disappointed as I am, what a blessing that it's still making the rounds!
I sure hope it makes it this time.

With the correct street number, of course.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Daughter’s blog




Shannon has started a new blog called The Pied Kingfisher. She has lived and worked in South Africa for 3 years now, and says she has tired of her “ventures” blog. 

After being a somewhat sophisticated urban Chicago cook with fabulous grocery markets, gadgets and appliances, she now finds herself living on the corner of a Free State {province} farm, in a tiny 2 room house with minimal cooking utensils and a long drive to a decent grocery store.  She will blog about cooking with hard-to-obtain, fancy ingredients, making do with what’s available and using produce that she grows fresh in her little garden –  yet, still having a fulfilling culinary life!

She compares her situation of being an American returning to the South African fold with the pied kingfisher, a bird species that frequents the area where she lives.  Read thepiedkingfisher here.  

Some of Shannon’s work with the non-profit, Dramatic Need, along with her community organising and teaching can be viewed on her work blog here.  


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Awesome shade of blue



If you’ve looked at a few postings in this blog, it’s no secret that I like love am addicted to shades of blue.  Blue just  tugs at something in my core.  Period.

When it came to painting my bathroom, I hit on an awesome shade of blue!  I keep pinching myself over the gorgeousness of it.  It’s not a big space for a master bathroom {what were we thinking when we planned and built this house?}  But today, for my limited $$, I’ve gained big bang by removing the dark navy wallpaper and painting, framing the mirror and replacing cabinet knobs, switchplates, the light fixtures and new tub fixtures.  I am over-the-moon happy with all of it.

It’s been ages since I made a shower curtain, and this one was very simple as I didn’t make tabs or a fold over ruffle, or anything like that.  Just a rectangle with a hem at both ends and 12 buttonholes evenly spaced at the top.  Let’s just say it was a cinch and didn’t take much more than an hour.



Note on the browns with the blue ::  I have taupe walls with blues in the adjacent bedroom, so I planned the reverse for the bathroom, and ahead of time bought these towels for a song at Marshall’s.   While I do still like them, if I had to do it over, I’d keep the palette to just white and blue.  I also bought the shower curtain material more than 4 years ago so I couldn’t justify going out and buying more.


The highlights in the bathroom {for me} are:
1. the wooden heart and bird cutout from Shannon, my gift she carefully hand-toted all the way from South Africa for Christmas;
2. the cubby hole where the medicine cabinet used to be – this was Susannah’s idea and backed with a mirror, it’s fun and pretty;
3. the beaded light bulb “spritzer,” for want of a better name, bought at Karoo Lamb in Nieu Bethesda, my last trip "home;"
4. blue walls!
:-D 

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Iced Zoo biscuits




Does your house ever get to the point {by design} where there is nothing sweet to eat?  My house has been depleted of yummy snacks for a while now, and tonight I was scavenging for something to have with my Typhoo tea.  I had a king sized sugar craving and so, in a state of weak willed-ness,  I opened a packet of Iced Zoo biscuits which I've been eyeing on my pantry shelf for 2 months since I came back from South Africa. Come to think of it, I've done well to have waited this long, but I was thinking I'd share the packet with someone else...maybe...but now not likely.

Iced Zoo biscuits are a reminder of my childhood - a distinct sugary taste trip back to the past. For some reason, they were something my mom only bought for birthday parties, making them quite exotic, in fact.  They were iced in paler colours back then, and the detail on the zoo animals was more distinct.  I'm thinking that they were decorated by hand, whereas now they are churned out in an icing stamp machine.  The new colours are garish.  Yet, they do still taste the same....the memory of the taste takes me right back....

This is quite a fancy dress for a little farm girl :)

I was wondering if anyone had written about them, and I found this website.  There are some humourous comments.  Seems it takes other SA ex pats back to their childhood roots too.

Knitted necklace



I was working in my sewing room to clean it up.  I love spending time in there, poking around.  Okay, so I got a little distracted when I ran across 2 spools of wire I bought at Ornamentea in Raleigh in the Spring.  I have long wanted to try my hand at knitting a necklace in wire, and adding beads as I go.  It was so tempting; the knitting needles were right there too....



For this first time, I just used cheap beads as I wanted to see how it worked out, but I'm very pleased with the result and will experiment again.  I don't have a pattern - didn't look one up - not sure I can duplicate it exactly :)

Basically, I cast on and cast off, working beads that I'd threaded onto the spool first of all, into the stitches.  I added them randomly, in the center, because I wanted it to have an abstract element.  When it came to the clasp, I knitted it in, and the same with the closed jump ring.  {Luckily I had these "findings" in my stash!}

For the sheer heck of it, I tried my hand at some earrings too.  I'd never wear them both together, but I know someone who might like the earrings!



I still have a spool of the gold wire....

Friday, August 05, 2011

Cake and yogurt



No not together!  

Yesterday afternoon I made my sweet friend, who is such a blessing in my life, a birthday cake for her 70th birthday. She has a host of visitors staying in her home, and I knew a tea time treat would be enjoyed.

Where the yogurt comes in is this :: I read on the blog, Two Red Wellies, how Emily has experimented with making yogurt in her oven and not in a yogurt maker. It was a hundred blooming degrees outside and I was regretting having a hot oven after baking the cake, when all of a sudden, I thought aha!  Make some yogurt. 

This is what I did.  I heated 4 cups of 1% milk to the boiling point in the microwave.  Then I added one of the cups of yogurt I’d made the week before as a starter.  I have a glass jar with a sealed lid {it’s blue – imagine that!} After mixing the yogurt and milk together gradually so there weren’t lumps in it, I poured it into the jar.  I wrapped the jar in 2 towels and secured them.  Then I popped the little bundle into the still warm oven and closed it.



This morning I have a full jar of 4 cups of yogurt.  Now that was easy.  So much easier than all the measuring into the cups.  However,  I do love the ease of slipping a cup of yogurt into my lunch bag {in a morning rush to get out the door} each day, so I may use the jar of yogurt and make a mega batch of yogurt cheese to use as a substitute for sour cream, ricotta, cream cheese, you name it… yum, cheap, only the price of the milk I used!

Maybe yogurt would be good on cake though?

Thanks, Emily!