Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Belated Weekend Update

We did a lot of relaxing and not much else. We had family in town last weekend, and this weekend we’re going away to Kruger, so we didn’t feel the need to go all out this weekend, and just wanted to spend some time closer to home. Though Sunday we did go up to Langabaan and get in a whole day of kite boarding. It was fun, but I think we were all a bit frustrated with ourselves too. When you watch other people do it they make it look soooo easy, and I’m sure if I practice enough things are going to fall into place. But right now it’s very frustrating and it’s hard to figure out what I’m doing wrong. But I do feel like I learn a ton each time I go out, and watching people helps as well.

Tomorrow we’re off to Kruger National Park! I’m so excited, Eliot asked me what I was going to be for Halloween and I said, “Lion food.” I can’t think of what else I would be, so I’m gonna go with what I know. I’m also just looking forward to getting away, just the two of us. We haven’t had a weekend away by ourselves since we were in China.

Have a good rest of the week and a great weekend! xxx

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I woke up at 5:30 this morning...

...which totally sucks. Saturday morning, the one morning I can sleep in and I'm awake at 5:30. I don't know what's wrong with me, especially since I can sleepy ANYWHERE at ANYTIME, except my bed on Saturday mornings apparently.

So while shutting my eyes tight and trying desperately to get back to sleep I was thinking about a lot of things. One of those things being food (no surprise there), which made my mind start thinking about breakfast and what we were going to have (I usually cook big brekkie on Saturday morning, something I credit to my father). Then I started thinking about our CSA bag and how I should really be using things from that since we're going to be gone next weekend, oh and we have a lot of eggs in the fridge.

I don't know why I decided to take photos of it this morning, but here it is:
Spanish Tortillas

olive oil
2 sm-med Potatoes (peeled and diced)
2 Spring onions (I used chives this morning, cause that's what I had)
Bit o' Cilantro (some call it coriander, but it's a Spanish Tortilla so today it's Cilantro)
4 Eggs
Salt and Pepper
Sour Cream

* Put a bit of oil in a pan and add the potatoes with salt and pepper and just a smidge of paprika. When sizzling cover pan and let fry/steam themselves for a bit (like 10 min). While potatoes are cooking beat 4 eggs into a bowl, and add onions (or chives) and cilantro and a dash of cumin (out of habit, I always crack some salt and pepper into my eggs that I'm about to cook, doesn't seem to hurt anything). Add the cooked potatoes to the egg mixture and make sure everything is mixed together well. Add a bit more oil to the pan (you DON'T want this sticking) and then pour in the eggs with potatoes. Drop the heat waaaaay down, you don't want it cooking too fast. Let is simmer in the pan until it's cooked almost completely through on top. Then I slid it out onto a plate and flipped it back into the pan to cook for a couple more minutes on the other side. Cut and serve with a drop of sour cream, perfect morning breakfast for the sleepless.


~Steamy Potatoes and Cilantro~

~Sizzling away~


Friday, October 23, 2009

Just Some Thoughts

I woke up this morning to a very foggy, very still, but very fresh day. For a while it's been feeling quite autumnal here. I think it's because it's October and I've never experienced a changing season in the southern hemisphere, but today it feels like a spring day. The little winter bite is out of the air, and the breeze is warm. As we drove into work to drop off Eliot, we could just start to see the mountain and rays of sun breaking through the fog, so I can tell it's all going to burn off and be a beautiful day.

I have to say, I really love South Africa. I can't say I love it more than China, but I think it's a different kind of love completely. China is like the dark tormented lover that, although you care for, you know you can never be with. And South Africa is like that fun loving person that you just adore completely. South Africa is just so easy (comparatively) and I don't find myself getting as emotional about things here. I don't mean emotional as in breaking down and crying every day (although sometimes that did happen), I mean it as having bipolar emotions, whereas some days I was so in love with China, and couldn't imagine a better place to be in, and other days I would have what I called "I hate China days" where I felt very angry and frustrated with Chinese culture. In China, I'd find myself pondering things a lot more, and doing a lot of self reflections.

China was very isolating, and I had A LOT of time to myself. This was hard for me at first (to be surrounded by so many people, but to feel like I was completely alone), but now in South Africa I find I myself searching for that isolation. Not to the extreme that it was in China, but just making sure to take time for myself each day to read, or blog, or take photos, or just do something creative and relaxing, by myself. This blog has become a good outlet for me to not only keep a diary of what I'm doing at this point in my life, but also to expel energy that I didn't realize I had before. I can thank China for these somewhat self realizations.

But apart from all that, we are keeping busy, and really enjoying our time here. Mike and Jenny (Eliot's folks) just left yesterday. We had a really nice visit with them, and got to go and see some cool new things. They even made our luggage problem disappear! Since they fly 1st class they are allowed 3 (yes 3!) 50lb bags EACH. So they each had one, and then offered to take some of our things back with them to England, which they can then bring out to us in FL in the New Year. We are very thankful to them for that, it's taken a lot of 'soon to be stress' off

Next week Eliot and I are flying up to Kruger National Park for a long weekend. We've been wanting to go since we learned we were even coming to SA, and it seems like the perfect time to go in this bit of a lull between visitors. Kruger is a very large national park with a ton of animals. It's against park rules to even get out of your car while in the park for fear that you might get nabbed by a lion! We're also armed with malaria pills for those little pests that carry horrible things around with them. We're staying in the park for 3 nights at different (fenced in) camps throughout. Stay tuned for photos of The Big 5!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Escape

*Warning: Lots of Photos.

This past weekend was the last weekend that we would have to spend with Mike and Jenny before they buzz back up to England. We thought it would be nice for us all to go away together for the weekend and see a new part of South Africa that none of us have witnessed before. After studying the map and trying to decide on a place that wasn't too far of drive for a 2 day stay we decided on Swellendam, a small, very Dutch town embedded in the countryside and at the foot of mountains.

Rolling hills for miles.

Beautiful Blue Cranes

The drive there was amazing, and was very similar to the rest of the drives we would have over the weekend. Fields and fields of nothing but rows of corn and wheat with the occasional vineyard thrown in. Sheep grazing, and every once in a while we'd pass a field of Ostriches (Ostri), or a dusty windmill that looked as if no one had serviced it for ages.

Friday we arrived at our guest house to drop our bags and freshen up with some gin and tonics before heading to fill our bellies. We went to the house next door for dinner, a place called The Powell House, named after someone who used to live there. It was run by a lovely couple. The husband served the meals in the dining room and the wife worked in the kitchen preparing the incredible things that came out. It really was just a house that was converted into a kitchen (something we would find out was quite common in this little town). But the ambiance was lovely, the wine tasty, and the food phenomenal.

Saturday, first on the agenda, was heading to the Bontebok national park to see if we could find any of the protected Bontebok. It turns out they aren't as scarce as we thought (at least not in the park). We also saw some zebras and other gorgeous things.

Loads of Aloe plants everywhere.

A little fishing spot in the park.

I think this Bontebok is pregnant, look at her big belly.

They let us get quite close.


We even saw zebras!

After the Bontebok park we had a quick bite to eat and then wanted to head to the coast to another nature reserve called De Hoop. There is supposed to be loads of whales, some zebra and the occasional leopard (unfortunately we never saw the leopard). We hiked up the stunning sand dunes down by the beach and watched the whales for a bit. A really spectacular place.

Eliot in the dunes.

Whales! Tons of them hanging out in the surf.

Mike, Jenny and Eliot.

Proof that the Bontebok are recovering their numbers. We saw so many babies.

After De Hoop we'd had a full day of Bonteboks, whale watching and driving. On the way back we rode the "Hand Ferry", a ferry completely operated by hand. It's not too far over the river, but could you imagine doing this everyday? What a great workout. The ferry is R35 and can carry up to 3 cars.

Swing your chain around the wire.

Walk away from where you're headed, and repeat.

Pretty simple concept really.

You can even drink a beer while doing it...

...or talk on the phone to your best mate!

That night we went for another homestyle dinner at a restaurant with no menu. Again, run by a husband and wife, with the husband out in the dining room, and his wife helping in the kitchen. It was definitely the type of place where you feel like you should help clean up afterwards, very warm and very welcoming.

The menu for the evening was:
Starter~ Fresh baked whole wheat bread served with butter and pate.
Soup~ Creamy broccoli soup- love love love broccoli!
Main course~ Beef fillet served with mushroom sauce, Pork fillet with a chili soy sauce, Meatballs wrapped and cooked in spinach leave and roasted potatoes. Not for the vegetarian, but could definitely make a vegetarian consider changing their ways.
Dessert~ Vanilla ice cream with raspberries and drizzled with Port wine.
We were all completely filled to the brim in the best of ways.

The Connection restaurant.


Coffee and wine, what's better than that?

Sunday we explored the small town of Swellendam. There are a lot of historical buildings in the town, so we checked out the museum and the surrounding structures. The first of these building was built in 1747, so a lot of history, and some really interesting stuff to see.

Most of the houses had thatched roofs.

This guy was our tour guide for a lot of the time.

We took the scenic trip home through all the fields and vineyards and stopped along the way for lunch and viewpoints. I'll admit, there's something about a moving vehicle that causes me to crash out and I slept through most of the photo ops. But we had a really great weekend with Eliot's parents, and we experienced parts of South Africa that we didn't even really know were out there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's Give Ourselves a Break

Why are girls so mean to each other? This isn’t a normal topic for this blog, but it’s something that’s been bothering me recently and I feel like I need to put it out there. Why is it that, as a girl, you walk into a room and naturally you’re being judged by the people in that room, but mostly and more harshly you’re being judged by the other ladies. Why are we so threatened by other strong, confident women? We may think this is how girls act in high school, but the reality is, it carries on a lot longer than that.

I hate to compare girls to guys, but this is an issue we differ on so much. Guys, usually, can admit when someone does something better than them, and they can respect that person for it. But girls have a hard time admitting when another girl does something better, and they have an even more difficult time respecting them no matter what. When a group of guys get into a room together, there may be a bit of macho tension to begin with, but normally they bond so easily and are light heartedly making fun of each other. Girls are much more guarded, and spend a lot of time sizing up the other girls to see who’s more beautiful or who’s thinner, usually they judge personality last. I’m not claiming innocence on this, it’s a really easy trap to get caught up in, and it’s even easier if you have other girls on your “side” to confirm your thoughts and feelings. But it’s something that can and should be changed.

In a world where women are (still!) being constantly underestimated, and have to prove themselves before we get any respect from anyone, the people we should be able to lean on the most, are the ones making it the hardest for us to gain the confidence to succeed. We should be cheering each other on at every turn, and recognizing in one another the similarities we all possess as well as celebrating our differences, and what makes us unique.

It’s also incredible how you can completely change what someone wants to think about you just by engaging them in a casual conversation. Suddenly, the girl that wanted to hate you a minute ago for having straight silky hair wants to be your friend because she doesn’t feel like you’re judging her anymore. Sometimes it’s hard to be the bigger person when you’re confronted with so much resistance, but we should at least try to help one another out, and just give each other a break.

On that note, I would like to say that I have really wonderful girlfriends that I am so thankful for, and know I would be completely lost without them. I depend on these girls so much, and I miss them so deeply when they’re not around. I really am so lucky to have this, and I appreciate it so much.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Weekend of Tastings

This was definitely a weekend where you still feel full into Wednesday. With Eliot's parents in town we have been doing A LOT of tasting. Needless to say, I'm feeling quite motivated to get my butt up at 4:30am this week to help balance everything out a bit.

Saturday I had my first taste of kite boarding! It was a lot of fun. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. I have this paralyzing fear of sharks, (yeah, even after spending most of my life in the ocean) and South Africa isn't short of them in any way. Saturday wasn't about trying to get up on the board, but was mainly just working on kite control and doing body dragging exercises with the kite. The boat dropped me off in the middle of the lagoon (by myself) and the instructor told me to go for it and practice body dragging to the left. It was all fine and good when the kite was up in the air, but when it crashed into the water (which happened often) and I had to work on re-launching it, I started getting the sharkies*. I couldn't help but think I was the perfect bait in the middle of this lagoon. Despite all that, flying the kite and launching my whole body out of the water, even without a board, was really fun. I have the second half of my lesson today where I'm going to try and get up on the board. Stay tuned to hear if I survive another day in Cape Town waters without being gobbled by something.

While I was at my lesson, Eliot and his parents headed to our favorite Saturday farmer's market in the city. It's mostly vendors who are cooking up delicious mouth watering meals dishes. But there's also lots of breads (which we can't seem to get enough of these days) and sweets. The three of them tasted lots of great food and, proof that he loves me, Eliot brought me home two beautiful little cupcakes since I missed out on those activities. The first one I tasted too quickly to snap a photo, but this one hung around just long enough, before it was tasted and gone.

~Vanilla Sponge Cake with a Marshmellow Frosting (the other was chocolate; you uderstand why it didn't last)~

Sunday, the weather wasn't great with little spits of rain everywhere. But we decided to venture out into Stellenbosch to do some wine tasting, which is always a fun thing to do no matter what the weather is like (and a must-do when we have visitors in town). There are so many wineries around, and within them there is a lot of rich history. I love the buildings that hold these estates, very rustic and warm with the casual sense of being at home when you walk through the old farmhouse doors. Also knowing that some of them have been here since the first Dutch settlers arrived and planted their first vines back in the 17th century, a lovely taste of history they are.

~Vines waking up after the winter and getting ready for summer~

After our first tasting we headed to another winery that I've been wanting to taste since we arrived here. We've tried to go there before, but it's always packed with people for lunch. The place is called Fairview and they're known not only for their great wines, but they also have goats! And they magic up a wide range of cheeses and other deliciousness from goat's milk. For lunch we all had paninis, mine was made with salami, a creamy brie, tomato and pesto. And we ordered a large platter of different cheeses to taste and share. The overall favorite at the table was the cream cheese with Chakalaka (malaysian curry spices). All the cheese was tasted up in no time, so afterwards we had to venture into their little market and stock up on some of the gems that Fairview offered.

~This guy posed so nicely for me, doesn't he look proud?~

~Our tasted cheeses~


A really wonderful weekend, with lots of new foods, wines and experiences to savor. Now just to get through the week, and hope for another great weekend to arrive on our doorstep.

*sharkies- thinking too much about what may or may not be moving around beneath you when you're in the ocean.
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