Friday, 27 November 2015

The last two weeks...

 Is best described by this photo - beautiful twin rainbows against a dark and cloudy sky - and threatening storm that never happened.

It has been two weeks of incredible highlights but seriously busy. Exhaustively busy. A wrote her first end of the year exams and what I expected to be the storm that never happened. She studied well ahead (on our prompting) and coped well with the fact that despite her exams we spent a lot of time on the side of the cricket pitch - as C played his first school premier league. L very patiently enjoyed watching the matches (the grade 1 do not play this league) The Premier league is a fun league based on the concept of the Indian Premier league with fun names and coloured  caps to distinguish the teams. Two grades are combined to play with captains as leaders (no coaches) and the team spirit is truly something to experience. The grade 7-4 play before the exam season but the grade 2 and 3 league is during the senior phase exams and serves as a step up tool for the grade 2 boys to move from Bev (mini) cricket to the full size version of the game. With 4 matches per team in the group stage and a possible semi final and final it is a lot of cricket to cram into two weeks. C and the Blue Warriors made it to the semi finals and the third place. They were disappointed but a bronze medal is nothing to be shy about too.

We also had two prize givings, two school grade parties and two class parties. Lots of happy, lots of busy. And I am not even mentioning work that is always busy this time of the year. I will tell you about the prize givings later - simply because I feel they deserve their own posts. But suffice to say I have a permanent smile on my face at the moment.

This weekend we have a few commitments but we are planning to rest up a bit, to go a bit slower. So how has your week been?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Weekends are so much fun!

There are medals to be won
The boys' Judo medals tally for 2015 - I was so extremely proud when they fought like tigers on Saturday with C taking silver and L bronze. I love it that they often swap who wins the other - I guess there is a whole post in competition between twins waiting

Charity bookshops to explore
The Hospice bookshop had some great finds - who remembers Nancy Drew? A loves the books but they are very hard to find. 
And among the studying (A is writing history and geography today and tomorrow), koppies to be climbed and streams to be explored.

It was an exceptionally great weekend - there was a lot of happy and joy and much relaxing. We need more of these.

So what are your 3 weekend highlights?

Friday, 20 November 2015

On fun, events and more

This morning we had the yearly Ladies' breakfast event hosted by our Institute for Architects. It started out years ago as the Secretaries' breakfast but as it was always the most fun event with the best goodie bags, it was changed to include all ladies in architecture. After all why should us architects attend all the boring CPD events but not be able to attend the one fun day of the year. It's a lovely morning being spoiled a bit before the year ends.

We have had many wonderful presentations for this event. One year we made mosaics, another one taught us beautiful gift wrapping ideas and we also learnt how to make concrete art works the one year. This years' offering was simply fabulous!

The theme was "50 Shades of bra's and panties". It started out with a fabulous performance by Lillipip Performances . I laughed literally until I cried. Good clean fun - and a fabulous idea for a Kitchen or even Stork tea or any ladies type event. I can really recommend it. Then we all had our bra sizes checked by La Senzas' team of fabulous ladies. In the meantime breakfast was served and tea after.

Then we made our own room fragrance thingy - you know those bottles you buy with the bamboo sticks in? We were given a "recipe" and all the ingredients to mix our own. It was great fun and smells divine.

 We were once again spoilt - a Woolworths gift voucher of R150 (for new undies) from Floorworx (with Sally Williams nougat!), a beautiful vase with rose from Ceasarstone,  a R200 off voucher from La Senza (plus a lariat and measuring for bra size), cute undies cookies from The Yellow Hat chef and our room fragrance we made with bamboo sticks. There was also a lucky draw where two of the ladies won undies - one a set from La Senza and one from Victorias secret. It was fun and just what I needed after a long tiring week.

I myself am no lover of the traditional kitchen or stork teas and attend just for the sake of my friend that is being celebrated. I do however love these type of events when I do get the chance (usually this once a year one and maybe a blogger event now and again). It's good to be in the company of other women and it gives the girls in the office a chance to spend time together in a social setting. After all they are always extremely well organised.

So I would love to know what's your take on events like these?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A bit more about me

Cassey tagged me on this one:

Are you named after someone?
Very traditionally after my gran on my mom's side - the same long official name - she was commonly know as Cate

When was the last time you cried? 
Last night in the shower - I am a bit tired and emotional. It was just an outlet.

Do you have kids? 
My 3 not so little any more loves that keep my feet on the ground and my heart filled with love.

If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
I have always seen myself as a good friend but the last few years I guess I need to up my friend game. So I think yes - if I find the time.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? 
Reading - I would read anywhere, anytime . And Sally Williams nougat.

Do you like handwriting? 
I do - I make all my notes by hand in note books and diaries. I do however if at all possible prefer to always write in colours with my favorite kokis.

What is your favorite cereal? 
I am not a great lover of cereal but eat Special K with yogurt almost every week morning at the office.

What is the first thing you notice about people? 
Their eyes and if they make proper eye contact with me. If they do not I find it difficult to connect.

What color are your eyes? 

Scary movies or happy endings? 
I do not watch scary movies. Love happy endings.

Favorite TV show?
I do not watch much TV at all! But I do watch Masterchef, Survivor and the Amazing Race.

Summer or winter? 
100% Summer - I am totally ok with 30 degrees as long as it rains. The 39 degrees and drought we had the last two weeks got to me but not as much as the winter. I hate the cold.

Hugs or kisses? 
Depends who - but mostly hugs

What’s the furthest you’ve been from home? 
Europe and Turkey. I backpacked as a student. It was a very fast growing up experience and one I will always treasure.

Do you have special talents? 
Does being a mom of twin boys count?
But I do doodle, draw and can make a very pretty party table.

And I think for an amateur photographer I take pretty ok pictures.

So whoever wants to do this or need a filler, please do this. See yourself as tagged.

Monday, 16 November 2015

It's almost as if I can not get going without writing this morning.

We live in a world where on Saturday morning I woke up with a joy in my heart. We had a few drops of rain over night and a cloudy and cool morning with the promise of maybe some rain welcomed us. A part of why I love summer is the rain and thunder storms that the drought has robbed us of.
The origine of this image seems to be untraceable by now

Then as I checked social media the news of Paris started to filter through and the horror hit. Followed by the attacks in Kenya and in Lebanon. And the world we live in all of a sudden is a horrible one. Not that we do not live without horror on its own scale in this country. It's just that the co ordinated effort to destruct the most charming city hits hard. Paris is supposed to be the city of love, the city of romance and art. I wonder if Paris will ever be the same again?

Other terrors of years past reminds us just what the horrible consequences are. I immediately remembered London and the co ordinated attacks there. And of course there's 9/11 and the wars that followed on that. Today the news came that France hit ISIS. A new war has started - or are we continuing the war on terrorism on another front?

I am not political commentator and this post is without a doubt not meant to be political at all. As the photos of drowned immigrant children hit us hard, the photos of Paris hits too. I have no answers, there are simply none.

Our grade 4 has to know what is going on in the world. They write monthly general knowledge tests for which they are not supposed to learn, but to take notice of the world around them. When your children are smaller you can protect them against the brunt of the news. At 10 I can not do that any more. There will be talk about Paris at school today. They have to deal with the horrors the world present. No matter how we sheltered them from movies, games and other media that we see as violent, we have to present to them a reality that is just as violent. This is the part that I find most difficult. Sharing the horror and trying to explain this world we live in.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Book review: The House in Carnival street

Last year I read "The Little Coffee shop of Kabul" - you will find my review here. The book and her lovely style of writing really stayed with me and when I saw her new book in Exclusive books when it was my turn to buy for the Bookclub, it was the first book I picked up.
What I did not realize at the time was that I bought and autobiography and not fiction based on real life events as in "The Little coffee shop of Kabul".I am no lover of biographies or autobiographies. Fiction is my poison of choice. And while I loved The little coffee shop of Kabul, it is in the fiction realm. This book is definitely and autobiography but one that reads very easily- almost like fiction. It does however deal with the harsh reality of what really happened at the end of the previous book and why she left Kabul. Dealing with all that and Post traumatic stress disorder is the real crux of the book - mixed with the lightness of making a new life in Mexico with it's harsh realities of poverty and suppression. I really enjoyed reading it and Deborahs' life story and never for a moment lost the slightest bit of interest. A very personal and enjoyable read. 

Now I have to find the very first of her books "The Kabul Beauty school" which she refers to often. 

So who has read any of Deborah Rodriguez' books? Or did I spark some interest? And who likes to read book reviews or not?

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Death by Chocolate cake

I got this recipe from Edna- May and I have to say that it is the best chocolate cake I have EVER eaten, never mind baked. I place the recipe below exactly like she gave it to me.

Just a few notes on the below: I did use butter, I do not have margarine in the house. It was delicious! Also I did not use one of the fillings she named. In stead I made the icing double and used half in the middle and half on the top. The cake is not sweet at all (despite the 2 cups of sugar in the recipe) - so do not expect a sweet cake. It's more like a dark chocolate cake with the texture of red velvet cake.


¼ cup Cocoa }*
½ cup oil }* * Heat together in saucepan
125g Margarine }*
1 cup water }*

2 cups Flour }
2 cups Sugar } Mix together in a large bowl

2 Eggs }#
½ cup Buttermilk }# Beat together lightly
1 tsp Bicarb }#
½ tsp Vanilla Essence }#

Pour * mixture over sugar and flour – mix in gently.
Add # to full mixture. Mix gently.
Grease two 20cm pans and line the base with baking paper (very important). Divide mixture between the two pans.
Bake at 160 – 180 °C for approx. 25 minutes. Test before removing from oven.
Cool for about 5 minutes then turn out onto wire rack – take care not to break the cakes!!


60ml Cocoa 60g Margarine
½ cup icing sugar 15ml Milk
Bring nearly to boil, beat well. Allow to cool, beat well again before pouring over the cake.

A few tips from my experience with this cake!

I found the best margarine to use is Wooden Spoon. In this recipe, it must be margarine and not butter (for the purists).
* ingredients shouldn’t be too hot otherwise the flour and sugar become a gluey mess!
Watch the icing mixture when warming the ingredients as well – it can become fudge very quickly.!
The fillings for this cake are endless:
Marmalade for orange flavour;
Strawberry jam filling serviced with cream and fresh strawberries – yummy.
Caramel is quite decadent;
Mixed berry jam filling serviced with cream and fresh berries – to die for!
Have fun and enjoy!

Monday, 9 November 2015

The easiest party ever that did not break the bank.

Somehow affordable and easy does not go hand in hand in where children's' parties are concerned. I think if you have a nice big garden and a pool and all your kids have summer birthdays you may just have the jackpot. If not, you are always looking at not too expensive ways to have the party of your kids' dreams.

The boys were very clear about their wishes this year. It had to be Bounce Inc , L wanted a Pinata and C insisted on an ice cream cake. And that was about it. They could not agree on a theme so I suggested we just have none or use Bounce on the cake. But booking a party at Bounce is expensive and their extras are very excessively priced so we decided to just go and jump and have the party part at home. I also explained that if we go for Bounce they will have to limit their friends to suit our budget - which they both agreed to without issues. For C it was easy as it was exactly the number of his tight little circle. L is sort of everybodys buddy so he had to choose but amazingly anough settled on his friends and stuck to them. (and yes, every one of them play circket with him- he is rather cricket mad). BTW - book online for Bounce for more than 10 kids and you get a discount.

It worked so well. We took all the boys (apart from one whose father brought him) with us (and the help of one of my mom friends and our au pair). I bought them each a bottle of water at Bounce that we marked and kept at a central place and they had HUGE fun! Apart from our kids and A's BFF that went along the rest have never been there so it was a total hit. I had cool drinks and crisps in the car in a cooler so when we left they each had a snack in the car. When we got home I notified the parents on the Whatsapp group. We did the candles and singing and ice cream cake and then they hit the pinatas. And just about then the parents picked the kids up. A few moms stayed behind and watched the rugby with us - which was quite social and fun.

It was such an easy party - I just had a few paper packs to put their Pinata takings in and that was about it. I actually felt as if there was no party happening...

We also made the pinatas ourselves after seeing it at a party earlier the year. It is easy, fast, the kids helped and worked well. This is how we did it:

Buy a Chinese lantern - these are really cheap I payed R24  -and push in the support to fill it out to a ball.
Cut a bit of cardboad and secure lightly with sellotape to the bottom hole
Now cover the lantern carefully with packaging tape - be aware that once you have stuck a bit you can not remove it again. We used nice patterned ones from Builders warehouse- we had rather big lanterns and I only had one roll each - two rolls would have been better and more sturdy but this worked well enough. If you want to spend time you can do the same with layers of paper mache.
Up at the top you can see the completed ones. Add sweets etc in the top and hang up for the fun to begin. They took quite a few hits before they started leaking little sweets.

The kids loved the party - several of the boys apparently now want Bounce parties and there was really no need for more eats/sweets or time to play. Without a doubt our easiest party ever.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Sometimes you just know .

Know that you were at exactly the right time at exactly the right place. As I believe God intended. Every moment of every day. He intended me to bump into the tuck shop owner and say a very quick "hallo, how are you?" - it must have slowed me down for just about half a minute.

Because if I was just 30 seconds earlier I would have been in a huge accident. In stead I saw the car rolling after the taxi hit it - failing to stop at a stop sign in a quiet street. Rolling towards me as I made a quick turn onto the grass sidewalk. I stopped, in shock, and helped calm down the hysterical driver of the car. Helped find her shoe in the car and her handbag in the boot while a very kind man started directing traffic away from the accident. A student ran out of a house and phoned the ambulance and another mom from the school came running with a bottle of Coke. In the taxi one of the women very clearly hit her head and while her friend held her and I talked to her (asking day of the week etc) she started vomiting. Shock, or a head injury, who knows? Within seconds a quiet suburban street was filled with smoke, glass, steel and heaps of concerned citizens of all colours, ages and races. What struck me was that very few just stared and stood around looking for sensation. A bundle formed with eye witnesses - one phoned the police and started making a list. Three men directed traffic and a bundle stood an angry guard around the taxi driver. Within what must have been 5 minutes we had a first response vehicle with a paramedic and minutes later 3 ambulances and the usual tow trucks.

As I did not see the actual impact moment and there were plenty of witnesses I left the scene when the medical help arrived. A bit frayed and a bit shocked. But in general very very thankful. Thankful that my kids did not see this. Thankful that there were no children in any of the two involved vehicles. Thankful that so many of our people still care about others and law and order. It was quite clear that the taxi driver will not be left alone for a moment to run away without speaking to the police.Witnesses of all races and colours promised the lady that they saw what happened and will make a statement. An accident today showed me the good in all our people - and it made me thankful that in the turmoil of this country we are all mostly people that are basically good people.....  But most of all thankful for those 30 seconds of grace....

On a footnote - I have a great idea of what to do with the kids this weekend! At Hamleys Greenstone - knowing Play -Doh I am sure it is going to be a lovely event.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Just a thought...

Do you ever give one of those "just a thought" gifts? A little something for say a mom that helped you when you could not fetch your kid or a coach or leader at an extra mural - something like that. Not in particular teachers gifts because I think they fall into another category. I often do and then sometimes I think I really should not go to the effort or money to do this. Is this even appreciated?
As some of you may have gathered I was involved this year in one of the kids' extra mural activities. A behind the scenes job - doing admin and helping out. The one that buggs the other parents to pay the money and send in the forms. That checks the figures and admin. I also helped out a few times with the actual activity but mainly I did the behind the scenes admin stuff.

Great was my surprise when at the end of the year function three moms had as they all 3 said "just a little thought " to say thanks. I have to say that for me this is not just a little something. It's a token of appreciation - and that is what matters - what the content of the package is was of very little importance. The idea that even though I may have been the one that did the unpleasant job,it was still very much appreciated. These little somethings and the thoughts behind them brought me a lot of joy.

So, do you give "little thoughts" and while we are at it - what about teachers gifts? A being in grade 4 has a whole caboodle of teachers. How do we do this?

BTW as a side note - I love the two Woollies soaps I got. I adore a luxury soap that I may not buy for myself and use it almost immediately. And I got nougat! My absolute favorite sweet. That is a whole different question too - what is your favorite sweet treat?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

This, that and the other

We spent a delightful Sunday of family time at the Titanic exhibition. Although the exhibition is not as spectacular or sizable as the Tutankhamen one was it is certainly more than worthwhile to visit. Not for very small kids though - they will simply be bored. I would say about 8 upwards. Until this Sunday in Joburg and in Cape Town from 22 November. The highlight for the kids were finding out if they survived - you get a boarding pass at the door with "your" details on and in the last room of the exhibit the full list shows. We had a 3/5 survival rate - better than the less than 1/3 of the real event.
I am still loving the "colouring for adults" trend and use little moments in between to colour. Last week my laptop at work decided to do a loooong windows update - and I completed this one that I have been working on for weeks.
I have bought our Lego advent calendar for the year. After years of making one (which I still love - and have a look if you want to make something original - posts here , here and here) we had the Lego city one last year and the kids very peacefully took turns in opening the windows. See I feel it is too much money to buy one each and sharing is a great skill to have. So we do it this way. This year I pre ordered the Lego Star Wars one but the website where I ordered it sent me a notification that they at the end did not receive stock from Lego. So we went to our favorite toy shop  - and no Star Wars one to be found. I took showed them the Lego City one and the Lego Friends one - fully knowing A would love the friends one but the boys not. Well did my boys surprise me - C said they  had the City one last year that was mainly for the boys so surely we can have the Friends one this year. He gave his condition (he wants the bunny in it) and L gave his condition (he wants the hockey sticks in it) and that was it! I am hoping come December we will still have consensus on this.
On Friday night we had the end of the year function of the Voortrekkers at Fort Schanskop. Lovely atmosphere and spectacular views from the top over Pretoria. I love that so many things are slowing down and ending off. A has started studying and doing exam preps.
Leaving you with this spectacular view.
So whats happening around your corner of the world?

Oh and I forgot that we took in our Santa Shoeboxes - every year I am surprised at the joy the making of these bring to us all.