After a late night at poker on Wednesday, last night was nice and quiet and relaxed. Although I'd be able to relax more if my holiday plans were bedded down and all I was doing was waiting for the joy of going on them ;) But instead I spend large portions of my evenings online scouring for deals and packaged trips. Sigh, it can create more than a little disillusionment. And the hardest part ... sticking to your budget and not saying "well it's only an extra 5grand". Double sigh.
And the weekend looks to be fairly quiet ... aside from the Bloggirls lunch I'm looking forward to tomorrow :) We've also gotta take Rex to the vet to find out when he'll be ready for the snip. Exciting stuff, people :P
Friday, May 29, 2009
After a late night at poker on Wednesday, last night was nice and quiet and relaxed. Although I'd be able to relax more if my holiday plans were bedded down and all I was doing was waiting for the joy of going on them ;) But instead I spend large portions of my evenings online scouring for deals and packaged trips. Sigh, it can create more than a little disillusionment. And the hardest part ... sticking to your budget and not saying "well it's only an extra 5grand". Double sigh.
Posted by phillygirl at 5/29/2009 07:33:00 am
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Okay, so there's not too much to say again today. Played poker with the girl's last night and got to try out a new (coffee) flavour of Noogies Cookie Dough :) Yay. Was a fabulous evening with plenty of laughs and fun poker. I really do love these evenings.
But I skipped gym and decided I'd go this evening instead. So I went to Flight Center, just to depress myself. I am so back-and-forth about these holiday plans. My Polar Bear trip is sorta coming together ... I mean I found a tour with availability and flights that meet my price range. But then when you start adding the extras ... the visa's for Canada plus which ever stupid country I have to fly via - am not sure if I need a transit visa for Schengen countries but, must definitely find out about that (although I am wondering if I apply for the US one if I'll get the standard 10year visa ... could save me in the future!). Then the gear. I certainly don't currently own Polar-Bear- climate gear. And it's not cheap. So yeah, I'll be weighing it up for now and investigating visa requirements.
And then there's the other Beach Holiday trip for Varen & I. Jees like but prices for flights have escalated. I really didn't want to spend too much on a 7-day packaged resort trip, but it seems there's not all that much available around 10K. Plus, I was hoping for a nice romantic secluded beach hut somewhere ... and that is what you pay for. I certainly don't want to spend my beach holiday (cause I'm unlikely to go on another anytime soon, it's not my first holiday choice) in a room down the hall from 8 others :P Although on the flip side, how much time do you end up spending in the room anyway, it's all about walks on the beach, cocktails at sunset and snorkelling or scuba diving and enjoying the water. I dunno. Nothing jumps out and screams "YES!" at me ... I am terribly fussy, I know.
So things continue to fluctuate. And then I wonder if it's worth spending all this cash. I'll get an amazing experience for it ... which is what I'm all about. But it still nags at me terribly. I'm not generally a big spender, except on my holidays ... generally I'm more of a hoarder. So the thought of making such a big dent in my savings in one year kinda terrifies me. But, what is money for if not to spend it and enrich your life (whatever that might mean to you personally) ... that's is after all what we're spending our days at work earning it for :)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I thought this was going to be a depressing post ... who knows how it'll turn out now tho.
Last night I got a response back from Natural Habitats regarding my query about their Polar Bear trips. They have availability on the trip I wanted to do ... my heart lept for joy. And then I started doing the calculations. I don't know what I did before when I did the exchange rate calculation, but it obviously wasn't right. USD 6000 is NOT R30000. It's a helluva lot more. And I know that as much as I'd love my Mommy to join me on this trip, she's not going to. She can't justify the expense. She'd rather spend the same amount on a holiday somewhere in South Africa for all of us. Which I can totally understand and makes complete sense ... although I'd love for her to join me. We've never done a trip together, just the two of us (us going away for a weekend while she is visiting me in Joburg simply doesn't count!). So I'd be going on my own ... and that means I now have to factor in that annoying "single supplement" fee.
Eurgh. I was shattered. I was questioning if I should do this. I mean it does seem sorta crazy, right? Being willing to spend 50K on a 7 day holiday half way across the world. That's way more than I'd normally spend for a 3 week holiday even!
Let me take a moment here to mention that I know that's a jaw-dropping amount to spend on a holiday. I wouldn't normally be able to justify it. I'm not entirely sure I can at the moment (but I'll try in the next paragraph!). But it's all about priorities and everyone's are different. Mine are to a) currently not own a home (a monthly saving) b) not drive the fanciest or most expensive car (another monthly saving) c) not have kiddies yet (a giant saving) and d) wanting to travel as much as possible before I settle down to spend my money on the things listed above. So please do not consider me completely wasteful. *This* is what *I* save for. Ps. If anyone girls wanna come along & join me, it'd save us both that pesky single supplement ;)
But here's the thing: Varen & I are doing a 7 day trip together, which means if I do a trip on my own it's gotta be roughly 7 days as well, cause I simply don't get that much leave (factoring in the overflow of leave I used up on my trip last year and the 4 days over Xmas we're forced to take that I want to spend in Cape Town this year). So there are plenty of other great places I'd love to travel to ... but it'd simply be a waste to go for a mere 7 days. When I travel I like to know everything got done and there's no need to go back (cause I have a long list of places to visit and things to do and not going back to places is the only way to ensure everything gets done at least once). This is one of those trips that'd be completely and fully "done" in 7 days - assuming I wasn't supremely unlucky and didn't see a single Polar Bear (tell me that can't happen!). The other thing is, I have to weigh up the cost of crossing 3 things off my life list (I have high hopes for the Aurora Borealis, although it's not guaranteed - isn't that picture beautiful?). But if I don't see it, I'll have another chance when I tick off my "stay in an ice-hotel" item ... hopefully ;)
So last night I went thru all the trips again, looking purely at price and the minimum things I wanted to do on the trip (the 3 things from my list) and got in touch with a few other companies that had trips in my price range. Let me tell you, there are not a lot. I was (am) beginning to doubt if this trip will happen. And if it doesn't happen now, when will it? Once I have children I doubt I could justify this kinda expense.
This morning I'm a little more hopeful. I got the link to apply for a $1000 discount voucher on the Natural Habitat trips I'm most keen on (although the Tundra Lodge one is still out of my budget ... the Classic one may now just be achievable!). So I've choosen the dates I'd like to travel and am waiting to hear about flights. Another step that could turn this trip to dust :( My most important factor with these flights is NOT going via Heathrow or anywhere else that requires South African citizens to have a transit visa. I've got to spend about the same as a Schengen visa on the Canadian Visa (almost a grand once you factor in the courier costs, because Why. The. Hell. are all consulates in freaking Pretoria?!), so I'm sure as crap not spending another bundle just so I can see the inside of Heathrow airport :P
Anyhoo, so I wait. It could all come together in the next 2 weeks, or it could come to nothing and I'll start hunting for an alternative. But I'm hoping it'll all work out and I'll be able to stick to my budget and have a trip of a lifetime! Fingers crossed, people ... fingers crossed!
Oh, last night we ate the Tomato Bredie I made on Monday evening. Yeah, I definitely don't know if what I remember as Tomato Bredie actually was Tomato Bredie. It wasn't that great (for me ... Varen ate a whopping two full bowls!). Varen's Oxtail was definitely the better meal that's required 'long-term cooking' so far in our house!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Readers captivated by Twilight and New Moon will eagerly devour Eclipse, the much anticipated third book in Stephenie Meyer's riveting vampire love saga. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob --- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?
The third installment was definitely better than the 2nd. I guess the 2nd was just really full of a lot more "set-up". I am finding the story fairly predictable. And honestly, it is a fairly fun light read ... I'm just older and cynical at the moment and all this "finding the person you want to spend forever with at 18" (and hello, not just one but *two* potential life-partners by that age). Well yeah, whatever. Who didn't think that when they fell in love as a teenager it'd be forever. When it's your first love, you can't believe anything but. So that parts getting a little sickly sweet and "meh, whatever" for me. But regardless, I'll definitely keep reading ;)
> Follow Stephenie Meyer on Twitter
Last night wasn't very eventful - I spent most of it trying to research polar bear trips online. Isn't it annoying when you realise that the first tour you found has all the aspects you're looking for at the cheapest rate. So far the one I have my heart set on is Natural Habitat's Tundra Lodge Adventure with the Dog-Sledding Extension. If I'm lucky I'll be able to cross 3 things off my Life List: 4. Ride on a Husky driven dog-sled, 8. See the Aurora Borealis and 18. Watch Polar Bears crossing Hudson Bay, Canada :) Now if only they'd please farking respond already ... I have ants in my pants and want to get this going! Am nervous about a Canadian visa (any one got any words of wisdom here?). I read online that you have to include trip itinerary and flight details ... and then in brackets it says "we don't advise buying your tickets before getting your visa approved". Erm, okay then ... I'll be calling them a little later today to find out how I'm supposed to get all that right.
Other than that I spent the evening making dinner for tonight - damn these stews that need to simmer for almost 3 hours :P I made Tomato Bredie. I vaguely remember really enjoying this meal ... but watching it cook, I'm not sure yet how well this one has turned out. I guess we'll find out this evening ;)
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sigh. The weekend is over already :( Meh, it was an average one ... coulda done with a little more relaxing, personally tho.
Friday night we didn't do much, Varen worked late-ish. Mostly we just lazed around watching Dollhouse. I really liked it when it started, but I'm not sure if I like how it's progressing as a series ... but I guess it had to go somewhere. And then randomly at around 21h30, Varen decides to make muffins. That's right. He baked ?! They were delish tho, I could get used to this :)
Saturday was a bit of an admin & shopping day. Varen worked in the morning, I gymmed. We went shopping a bit later. We didn't do much else until dinner time when we headed off to meet Zej & Hammi at Parea. It was a bit of a mission because we didn't factor in the IPL Cricket spectators taking up all the parking for miles, but we persevered. This is one of those teeny restaurants in the arbest of places with little to no nearby parking at the best of times, but it was packed. I'm not entirely sure why, I wasn't hugely impressed with my food. I mean I'll admit to not being the hugest fan of Greek food generally, I like a good spread of Meze, but unfortunately you can only do this if you're ordering for the whole table ... otherwise it becomes a) prohibitively expensive and b) who can eat that much food on your own? Not me. So I had some hummous (my favourite Greek dip!) and a Falafel & Haloumi pita. I ♥ falafel :) It wasn't bad at all ... but their spread of Meze was disappointing.
On Sunday we went for breakfast with Varen's mom, sister and BrotherZion. And then proceeded to "pop round" to his dad's place (I guess we had driven all the way out to Bedfordview already - don't get me started on this) ... and ended up staying for lunch. I was less than thrilled because I had planned a nice lazy Sunday. Instead I spent most of the day sitting around listening to him, his dad & his brothers talking about their upcoming trip to the Fish River Canyon. which, don't get me wrong, I think will be brilliant for them - I think it's the first trip "the boys" have done together. But when they're planning what they'll be eating 2 & half months in advance and showing off the gear they bought, I don't need to be there for that.
Which brings me to a new point. The Holiday 2009 plans have changed dramatically this weekend ... and I will begin putting them into practice a little later today (finger's crossed!). Varen is going to be doing this 9-day trip with the boys so we decided to cut down our trip together to a 7day diving-and-beach holiday - yes, it'll probably be one of those cliche stay-in-the-same-old-resort-for-7-days trips, possible Maldives or Bali or somewhere like that. It'll be nice and relaxing and hopefully not hugely expensive. And then I'll plan another 7-9 day trip of my own (hopefully the Mom might join me too ... ?). If I get this one organised right, it'll end up being *hugely* expensive, but I'll be able to tick another thing of my Life List in the side-bar. Without tempting fate (by mentioning it before I've begun), I'm going to investigate going to see the Polar Bears in Hudson Bay. Which is something that isn't all that high on Varen's list (it's probably about where Hiking is on mine ;) ). I'm really excited about the new plan :)
Anyhoo, we also watched Angels & Demons on Sunday.
Harvard religious expert Robert Langdon is back, finding, once again, that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals.
When Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati - the most powerful underground organization in history - he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organisation's most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. When Langdon learns that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, he goes to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop, action-packed hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the heart of the most secret vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that mark the Vatican's only hope for survival.
Okay, so I have actually not yet read this book (believe it or not). I thought that meant I might actually enjoy the movie more (with no expectations) .. meh, the movie is okay. It's pretty bland really. I can see it would make a far better reading experience. It's quite slow and gets quite predictable in the end (although they try to trick you that you haven't really figured out the bad guy ... but then it turns out, you actually have). Tom Hanks should really stop acting now tho. The more he acts, the more I forget if he was ever actually any good (was he? Didn't he win an Oscar for something?). At least they didn't add in what would've been the least believable plot twist ... he didn't get the girl ;)
Oh, and you'll notice I put up some pics of the boons from this weekend. They are getting along so nicely now. I realised we had barely 3 weeks of 3 bunnies with Bell, Henna and Coal. We've had Rex for 5 weeks now. Even in that short time with Bell, Henna & Coal, seeing them all happy and playing together made the stress of bonding them and questioning why I ever got a third bunny all worth it. And it's exactly the same with these three. Seeing them together now, I forget the chaos of the bonding and of keeping them separated for their own good. They posed so nicely all together on the grass for me yesterday (see top photo - honestely I think that's the first time!). I can't wait to get a print for my bunny frame :) Also, I included the 2nd photo cause I *can not* believe how big Rex's ears are. I'm sure they're the same size as Coals! Anyway, so the good news is I have three very happy bunnies :) It makes my heart warm.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Am in full hibernation mode with the rest of the Twilight series on my bookshelf and a full hard drive of series to watch ;) Nothing too exciting going on here. And I am not looking for excitement. I dunno if you do it, but when I'm low emotionally and struggling with life, I tend to shy away from people. I'm in that phase right now. I prefer life when I have things in the future to look forward to. At the moment (due to the current holiday-planning chaos), I don't really know what's out there ... waiting for me in the future. That's a pretty scary place to be. I like to be organised. I like to know what's coming and at the moment I feel like I'm just wasting time as days pass me by. But to compound that feeling, I don't know quite what I should be doing with myself instead. And I'm very ... lethargic isn't the right word, I don't know what is. But all I wanna do is go home and read my book or watch series - I guess mental-escapism is what I'm looking for these days. Sigh. I need some motivation ... I need something to be motivated about, I need a direction.
And I think work has something to do with it. For the last 2 weeks my schedule has been a mess and I haven't really been doing anything specific for any length of time. I'm about to be on a nice long project ... but until that kicks off and I can sink my teeth into it, I'm kinda floating around, directionless, here as well. Sigh.
Sorry, that's probably all a bit much for a Friday morning ;)
Posted by phillygirl at 5/22/2009 07:32:00 am
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Didn't get up to much last night. Got home early and lay in the garden reading while the boons ran around. Coal & Lily are so cute with the picnic blanket ... they love to burrow underneath it. It's their favourite game I think :) Rex clearly doesn't get it yet. Oh my word but he has grown, I'm sure his ears are as big as Coal's now. I don't think there's much of the runt left in him :) We need to take him to the vet to see if he's ready to get snipped, but I think we'll wait till next weekend. Poor boy.
and then I made my favourite Ostrich Chili Soup for dinner - yum! And watched some Grey's Anatomy (Varen was studying again). Have been is a very weird mood lately. I desperately long for a sick-day where I could just spend t he day at home reading and watching series under the duvet. It's all I want to do in the evenings lately too. I think I'm hibernating ;)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Last night while Varen stayed home to study, I went out for sushi with Loulou and J9-double0blonde. To the new sushi spot, Yi Ping Ju. Now as I've said before, I quite like this place ... the only downside being no sushi-go-round and the 6- or 8-piece portions (so you have to go in a group as far as I'm concerned, because I have NO desire to eat 8 pieces of the same thing! I like variety when it comes to sushi). Sadly last night we were the only table there. And it's a pretty big place. It just makes you wonder, have people not discovered the place? At the moment I'm going because they have a 30% off their sushi special - I assume it's some sort of opening special they're still running. Me, I'm just looking for the best sushi I can get at the cheapest price. Sushi is stupidly expensive, anyone who's made it at home will know. And yes, I guess I could make it at home, the problem with that is quantity, you need to invite over a minimum of 6 people cause sushi is not left-over material.
Anyhoo. So we went and had a fabulous time :) Was nice to just be the girls. The only problem was that the sushi took sooooo long to arrive. Literally we had 3 separate servings. Which was annoying because I like to eat my sushi by alternating mouthfuls (what I mean is not three of the same item in a row). That is a bit annoying. They've been slow in the past, but this was painful. I dunno, might go back there again ... might start trying new sushi places again. Who can say.
Oh, and a quick 2009 Holiday update, before I forget. Madagascar either a) looks like it'll be off the cards altogether :( or b) I'll have to cut out some of what I had in mind. Found out that they have the *most* ridiculous airline system ... In. The. World. So the capital of Madagascar (for those of you who might not know) is Antananarivo. And that's where you fly in from Joburg. So far no biggie, all perfectly as expected. Now I had in mind to visit places on our trip, Sainte Marie (for some whale-watching, scuba diving, snorkeling and a visit to the Pirate cemetary), Nosy Be (for some more island hopping, scuba diving and snorkeling) and Morondava (to visit the Avenue of the Baobabs and possibly even Tsingy de Bemaraha) and of course see Lemurs where ever we could! Now because the roads are apparently so bad, you have to fly everywhere. So I thought, okay fine, I'll fly into Tana (much easier to type & say than Antananarivo) then to Sainte Marie, on to Nosy Be, then to Morondava and then back to Tana before heading home to Joburg. Sounds reasonable, right? Apparently this is COMPLETELY impossible! You can only get to all of these places (and, I gather, everywhere else in Madagascar) by flying from Tana. That's right, I'd have to fly into Tana, out to Sainte Marie, back to Tana, out to Nosy Be, back to Tana, out to Morondava and back to Tana again. Are you insane? That's like saying if you want to fly from Cape Town to Durban, you have to go via Johannesburg. A) it's a *huge* waste of my holiday time since I don't want to really spend a second in their capital city and b) it's awfully expensive. So Madagascar is looking less and less likely. Although I still have some specialist tour operators looking into it for me ... although it's beginning to seem I'll probably have to cut one of the destinations from my visit to make it at all feasible. How annoying. So now I have my fabulous Pentravel Travel Agent, who was so helpful with last year's trip, looking into alternative destinations ... perhaps Borneo ;)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Meet Ed Kennedy--underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he's hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That's when the first Ace arrives. That's when Ed becomes the messenger. . . . Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?
Sigh. Varen loved this book and urged me to read it. I think he loved it because he read it in one sitting instead of sleeping one night. I imagine being sleep-deprived towards the end helps because I sure as hell didn't get it. I have no idea what the point of the story was in the end. It definitely was kinda fun to read and it's pretty short, but the end does not (well for me anyway) bring it all together and package it into an equivalent explanation.
Monday, May 18, 2009
It was an up and down weekend, but I think I might have to split the down into a second post. But the up was I was very very spoilt :)
Friday night was quiet. I got home and really buckled down into organising my dream Madagascar holiday. This was after I popped into a Flight Center during the week, asking the travel agent for some ideas. I thought I'd left her with a clear idea of what I was looking for: "A cheap-ish holiday in Madagascar ... but if you can think of any other sort of location, let me know too". I also pointed out I'd done a *lot* of tours in groups. This time I didn't mind the idea of doing another group tour, but was more interested in the possibility of doing my own thing. I've found out since that that is not as easy as it sounds because the road situation in Madagascar is not ideal and you pretty much have to fly wherever you wanna go. Anyhoo, so I left ... not really anticipating much from the travel agent. They tend to push those fly-in-fly-out spend 7 days at ye olde typical beach resort type of holidays. Me, I'm so not one of those types.
So on Friday I received an email from my helpful travel agent. I read thru the detailed itinerary. Looks impressive :) Then I got to the page with the costings. R85000. For two people. For 14days. Eighty-five Thousand Rond. To go to Madagascar (not the Antarctic, people). I was momentarily in shock. But it did spur me on to go and research my trip and where exactly I wanted to go and look at possible / probable accommodation options and pricing in each area. Now I need to look at the internal & International flight prices. Me thinks Madagascar ain't gonna be the cheap holiday I was hoping for. Internal flights will do that to your budget! Sigh.
Anyway, On Saturday Varen spent the day at home studying while I went to Bokkie's surprise 30th braai. I was running late but still managed to get there just before he did :) It was a pretty cool day although I knew barely anyone there. Tasted some Coffee Tequila. Yum yum :)
And then Sunday, my birthday picnic at Walter Sisulu. I had a lovely day and was very spoilt :) My gifts were like little product launches from my friend's new businesses! It was incredible. I got some divine cookie dough from Noogie's Cookie Dough (soon to be launched!). I even got some biscuits that were made with the dough - although the fun part really is eating the dough! And I got some Body Thrill's products from Exmi :) And an Ayurvedic voucher from LivingYoga (although I'm not quite sure what this one entails yet! Haha). And those were only the "product launch" gifts ;) Thanks to everyone who came, it was hugely appreciated and I thoroughly enjoyed lazing in the sun on the grass with such fabulous people :) Hope you all enjoyed yourselves too!
Varen & I got home around 15h30 and spent the rest of the day in front of the tv. We watched the Twilight movie.
Twilight is a 2008 American romantic-fantasy film directed by Catherine Hardwicke and based on the novel of the same name by Stephenie Meyer. The film stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, a teenage girl and a vampire who fall in love.
Meh, it was okay, I guess. I'll say that if I hadn't already read the books, I doubt the movie would spur me to. Perhaps I was a little hard on the movie since I have read the books tho. Although the plot was pretty straight & narrow and stuck to the book well-enough, the actors just really didn't work for me. The vampire ones to be specific. I didn't think they were that amazing and I am so not enthralled with the actor they picked as Edward ... or Alice for that matter. They were better in my head. Edward just downright annoying in the movie :P Well, then again, he's pretty annoying in the books too ;) I also thought Jacob would be hotter. Oh well ... back to my imagination me thinks ;)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Yesterday Varen started his big-slog towards next week's 3 exams. So he stayed home and studied while I headed off to DJMike's new place for dinner ... I picked up Ghazal's for us en-route.
We had a cool evening catching up and chatting about stuff.
Nothing much else on my mind this morning ... think I might still be a little too half asleep. This second 5-day week didn't seem too bad until this morning when the very definitely feeling that this had gone on just one day too long came crushing my will to emerge from my warm bed. Sigh.
Posted by phillygirl at 5/15/2009 07:08:00 am
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Nothing exciting to report. Varen's first exam seemed to go well yesterday :) He's got his 2nd today, so finger's crossed for that one too.
Since he was studying, I made dinner. Which ended up tasting fine but didn't quite go according to plan. I hate it when they don't give you an indication of what sort of pot/pan you should be using. They refer to a saucepan, which to me means "pot" ... well it did until they started talking about cooking the chicken strips in there. Hello? In a pot. Out comes the frying-pan (skillet?). Then everything goes back into the pot for "simmering with the lid on" (I don't have a lid for my pan). Eventually everything went back into the pan regardless of no lib because, well, it was a stew not a soup and with no stirring for 20 minutes left it getting a bit sticky onto the bottom of the pot. Eurgh. Sigh. And then to top it off I was sposed to make dumplings which are supposed to start out submerged and then rise. Hello? It's a stew, there was too much veg and what not to even remotely submerge the dumplings. And then once it was all back in the pan, there was certainly no where for anything to rise to. All of this puts me into a terrible mood and is usually when I give up and walk out of the kitchen. Sigh. Varen rescued dinner and my chicken and vegetable stew with herb dumplings ended up tasting fine in the end. Even I'll say the dumplings were quite yum. Good and stodgy - Mom, you missed out ;)
And then I was craving something sweet ... but we had nothing in the house (I find it's easier to not keep any chocolate or sweet-stuff around the house or it just get's eaten too fast!). So Varen & I swung by the MacD's drive thru (in our PJs) and grabbed flake-cones :) Yum yum.
Posted by phillygirl at 5/14/2009 07:23:00 am
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Yesterday's highlight was receiving a giant package at work. My Milla Dark Pink had arrived :) I attempted a quick unpack, but inside the box was a huge gift bag and inside that, yet another box ... with plenty of bubble-wrap. Aside from not being able to instantly unwrap my gift, I was thrilled that there was no doubt she'd been kept safe on her journey to me.
So I dutifully waited till I got home and took great pleasure in unpacking her there. She's a little crazy, but I love her.Took a special pic of two of my birthday gifts for you: Milla next to my hourglass :) Love it.
Varen writes his first Unisa exam today, so I went to watch a movie on my own last night. I saw Coraline.
From Henry Selick, visionary director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and based on Neil Gaiman's international best-selling book, comes a spectacular stop-motion animated adventure - the first to be originally filmed in 3D!
Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is bored in her new home until she finds a secret door and discovers an alternate version of her life on the other side. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life and the people in it - but much better. When this seemingly perfect world turns dangerous and her other parents (including her Other Mother - voiced by Teri Hatcher) try to trap her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination and bravery to escape this increasingly perilous world and save her family.
Okay, ordinarily I this is not the sort of movie I'd see, cause I'm not a *huge* fan of animation. But I'd read the book and although that was a giant bore, I was curious to see the movie. Well, I will tell you that this is one time I found the movie far better than the book - probably because of it's kooky animation style. I was also quite keen to see it in 3D, but I wasn't going to mission thru the traffic to get to 4ways (and Monte Casino) at 5pm in the afternoon for that!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Only Tuesday. Do these weeks seem horrifically long to all of you too? I am struggling against the mundanity of life at the moment. I think I need to start planning this year's trip. It's not going to be a big 3-week one like it usually is, so Varen & I were thinking Madagascar for 10 days - 2 weeks. Might be a bit long just to see some lemurs and do some scuba diving tho. Still thinking. Any ideas / suggestions? The idea this year is not to be too extravagant. We want a decent holiday some where that isn't going to cost a fortune to a) get there and b) stay there (Sadly that ruled out my Siberian Railway and Peru ideas ... but Peru is firmly on my cards for 2010 - finger's crossed). The other problem is I've been to just about all the nearby African countries. So finding a not-budget-blowing destination is tricky. I've been to all of them in the last 5 years so am not quite ready to be heading back just yet.
Other than that I had a lovely Monday night at home yesterday. Got my gym outta the way. Had my shrink appointment and left feeling great and more positive than I have in a while :) And then I got home to find Varen midway thru making us Minestrone soup for dinner. The new plan is that he'll make one meal a week and I'll make one meal a week. I know that doesn't quite add up to seven - haha! But I figure the "work week" has 4 evenings (Mon - Thurs). Inevitably we end up going out and doing something on one of the nights, which means we need to cook for 3 of them. But then if I plan meals and purchase ingredients that are going to go off if not used, I feel like I'm confining myself if a last minute plan pops up. Either the food goes off (what a waste!) or I don't go (equally a waste!). So we just whip up something quick and easy on the 3rd night if nothing comes up. It's working for us :)
So, the soup. It was truly delish. I can't wait to finish it off for lunch today :) Think I'll have to make some more of my Ostrich Chili soup again soon too ... yum yum. I do love soup :)
Monday, May 11, 2009
Another week begins. I'm tired. I slept ... but you know when you dream so close to the surface that it may just have been thoughts floating in your awake head. I had a night like that. At least I knew they were actually dreams and not thoughts by their sheer ridiculousness ;)
I had a relaxing weekend. Yet still one I don't feel like I did everything I was supposed to. I don't remember what Varen & I did on Friday night, I headed home at a reasonable hour to let the bunnies have their first run around on the grass in sunshine in a while (sheesh did it rain a lot last week!). Other than that, I forget. I think we lazed at home with Mochacho's (not very healthy, but we haven't had it in *ages*) and started watching 24 :)
On Saturday I was up early to get in my 3rd gym session of the week since I'd missed it on Friday. And then headed off to the Post Office to collect my new Deals on Meals card and my birthday present from The Peeb. I got an awesome new cook book from her. Awesome :) She got me Delicious Magazine's Everyday Suppers. Great start to the day :)
I was hugely impressed to arrive home to Varen cleaning the bunny-hutch ... this is usually something I have to nag him to help me with each weekend. We got it cleaned up and put the wooden levels back into the hutch (they've been out all week while I've been waiting for the varnish to dry in this very un-sun-shiney weather!). The boons seem thrilled to have the levels back :) And I will say that we were completely surprised to find that by Sunday morning Rex was bounding up all the way to the top level by himself ... honestly I thought it'd take him another month, but the boy has grown ;) Sadly he's not so bonded to Varen & I anymore, but I guess that's the way it goes. I have some photos of each of them to post, but I couldn't get online last night :( It was wonderful watching them enjoying their new space this weekend!
And then we headed off to *finally* watch Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman reprises the role that made him a superstar - the fierce fighting machine that possesses amazing healing powers, retractable claws and a primal fury. Leading up to the events of X-Men, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine's epically-violent yet romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous "Weapon X" program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe whose appearances in the film series have long been anticipated.
It was great. I'm not a huge fan of Liev Schrieber, but he was well cast. Hugh Jackman is only worth watching as Wolverine ... drool. I really enjoyed this movie :)
The rest of Saturday evening was spent chilling at home. Sunday wasn't much different either. We caught up on Bones (love that show ... and the way it ended now I can't wait for the next season!!). And Varen dragged us to the new Star Trek movie.
A new vision of the origin of the greatest space adventure of all time, Star Trek, featuring a young, new crew boldly going where no man has gone before.
I went under duress. Although I do love watching movies. And I kept an open mind. Let me just mention here that other than the typical "Beam me up Scotty" and Spock's "Live long and prosper", I don't know anything much about the original Star Trek (oops, almost wrote Star Wars there ... no that would've got me into some serious trouble! But yes, my knowledge extends far enough to know they are not remotely similar except in name). My vague memories consist on Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Mr Data and Deanna Troi ... the Next Generation (and even those memories are fairly vague).
But this movie was great :) I didn't like Sylar in Heroes, but he makes for a perfect Spock. Perfect. I can't beleive I find myself hoping there'll be a second one. They've set up a great cast of characters and I think it'd be sad if they didn't. My money's on them making at least 2 more movies tho.
And that was about the weekend. I think I may have square-eyes now ;) Haha.
Friday, May 08, 2009
So, we were supposed re-attempt seeing Wolverine last night ... but still didn't get there (finger's crossed for this weekend!). I worked late as our project went live last night and all the bugs had to be resolved. I am very excited for the launch :)
But, I got home in time for a delish supper. Varen's Oxtail. Sheesh, I was impressed :) It wasn't as saucy as I expected, but the flavour was amazing. We just chilled out at home enjoying a good meal. It was really nice :) I will however say that Friday has not come soon enough. This 5-day week has been looong. I am really needing this weekend to just chill out and do nothing and relax. I am looking forward to it :)
And Happy Birthday to two of my favourite bloggirls, Jackson's Mom and Boldly Benny, for Saturday & Sunday respectively :)
Posted by phillygirl at 5/08/2009 07:26:00 am
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Yesterday was a pretty decent day, got a lot done in a little time :) Love that.
Also went to book club and I noticed something rather odd. Yes, we have two preggie ladies and our conversations inevitably turn to all things baby. But I find I censor some of what I might've said a lot more now ... You can share exciting news of someone else you know announcing their pregnancy and all sorts of comical pregnancy stories you read around the web. But there are things I just feel I can't talk about (perhaps "can't" is too strong a word, I guess it feels inappropriate somehow) ... like telling the story of my cousin dying after giving birth (we found out that she had HELLP Syndrome and after giving birth they actually thought she'd be fine ... till her liver ruptured and that was pretty much that - apparently all the hospital staff were quite devastated because they've never had a maternity death before!) or mentioning a story I heard on a podcast recently about Ghana's spirit children (I have conflicting views about this whole story but I think it makes for an interesting discussion).
I feel like you can mention all the good stuff but you really wanna steer clear of any negative stories about pregnancy or children. It is kinda weird, I guess. Do other people feel like that? Is it just me being weird and overly cautious or is it some kind of ingrained social consideration thing in everyone?
And, best of all, while I was at book club, Varen was home slaving over a hot stove, or rather oven. He decided now that it's getting to be winter (and Cape Town winter at that, with all this rain!) he wanted to make Oxtail for dinner one night ... but it has to cook for 3 hours. Luckily it's apparently better the next day, so we'll be having that for dinner tonight - yay. I don't think I've ever eaten Oxtail before. He also packed me a lunch for today, how lucky am I?
Posted by phillygirl at 5/07/2009 07:26:00 am
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Am feeling a little better today. I think the fight Varen & I had last week that has still been festering (now there's a revolting word!) unresolved ever since came to a head last night and there was plenty of screaming, but for the first time, he actually talked. Normally I tell him how I feel and he nods and says I'm right and blah blah, but he never contributes much and I never know if he's actually been listening to what I've said or just bunkering down till it's over and I feel better by letting me vent. But last night we really talked (with some raised voices and tears). I am on the road to better I think. I feel better having discussed how I feel and I definitely feel better from feeling he actually heard me for a change.
So yeah. It all came about because I had a rather nice evening planned ... I wanted to grab something to eat and watch Wolverine :) But instead the universe had other plans and I had to collect Varen from work in Sandton because his car is in for a service and they need to keep it an extra day. So fine fine, we can just go see the movie at Sandton maybe? But he couldn't leave work in time and I ended up collecting him at 6pm in traffic-chaos. Seriously, what happens when you add water to traffic that makes it have a practically Gremlin reaction? I drove for an hour & half ... from Randburg to Sandton via Rosebank back home. I was in no mood to watch the movie now (we arrived home about 15mins before it was supposed to be starting) and the evening was pretty much ruined. I am no good in traffic.
Anyhoo, sometimes that's just the way the evening goes.
Oh, and you'll notice I've included some photos of the boons being all friendly that I took on Monday that I forgot to post yesterday :)
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Alice Butler has been receiving some odd messages - all anonymous, all written in code. Are they from someone at PopCo, the profit-hungry corporation she works for? Or from Alice's long lost father? Or has someone else been on her trail? The solution, she is sure, will involve the code-breaking skills she learned from her grandparents and the key she's been wearing round her neck since she was ten. PopCo is a grown-up adventure of family secrets, puzzles, big business and the power of numbers.
I was really looking forward to this book after The End of Mr Y. And I definitely like Scarlett Thomas's writing style ... but this story just fell hugely short for me. Hugely. It's not gripping and there's all these extra bits and bobs that don't really seem to have much to do with anything ... Now unless I'm completely mistaken and there's some kind of code hidden within the book itself, that would be cool. But I'm too lazy to bother trying to figure that one out. And the big central bit of the story sort of get's shafted at the end and tacked on as an epilogue. Annoying. So, to sum up ... if you like the author give it a go. Otherwise, read The End of Mr Y first.
Am still not really in a blogging mood ... or any sort of online presence mood actually. I think that's what happens when there are things going on in real life that I can't write about here. It means I don't want to write anything at all.
So yeah, things are not currently great with life. am feeling most anti-social and have booked an appointment to see my shrink again. Sigh.
Had a very average night at home last night. Made some dinner that didn't end up being what I expected - who knew Phyllo Pastry needs to be defrosted slowly from the day before, not moi. So made a pasta instead. Not too shabby actually. That's all.
Posted by phillygirl at 5/05/2009 07:15:00 am
Monday, May 04, 2009
The dramatic first-person account of life inside an ultra-fundamentalist American religious sect, and one woman's courageous flight to freedom with her eight children. When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger: a man thirty-two years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn's heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church that had settled in small communities along the Arizona-Utah border. Over the next fifteen years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband's psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy. Carolyn's every move was dictated by her husband's whims. He decided where she lived and how her children would be treated. He controlled the money she earned as a school teacher. He chose when they had sex; Carolyn could only refuse--at her peril. For in the FLDS, a wife's compliance with her husband determined how much status both she and her children held in the family. Carolyn was miserable for years and wanted out, but she knew that if she tried to leave and got caught, her children would be taken away from her. No woman in the country had ever escaped from the FLDS and managed to get her children out, too. But in 2003, Carolyn chose freedom over fear and fled her home with her eight children. She had $20 to her name. Escape exposes a world tantamount to a prison camp, created by religious fanatics who, in the name of God, deprive theirfollowers the right to make choices, force women to be totally subservient to men, and brainwash children in church-run schools. Against this background, Carolyn Jessop's flight takes on an extraordinary, inspiring power. Not only did she manage a daring escape from a brutal environment, she became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. And in 2006, her reports to the Utah attorney general on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of their notorious leader, Warren Jeffs.
Okay, I know, this book review is hugely late ... but I have been very off blogging lately. Let me say tho, that my lateness does not reflect at all how I felt about the book. I loved it. Well, rather, it terrified me. It is one of the scariest books I've ever read. I think because it's true. Cults fascinate me in a morbid, can't look away sense ... and I can not conceive of this level of brainwashing. It's madness. I'm still flabbergasted when I think about this story, this woman's lofe (and how many others who lack the strength to do anything for themselves!). Words are insufficient. What mother would want this for her own daughter? All of it is just too scary for me to contemplate. It's all about power and control and simple another example in my mind of religion being corrupted by humans for power. I think my head might explode if anyone I knew every joined a cult. Brainwashing is scary stuff!
I tried to look up more information abotu Carolyn Jessop and her kids online to see how the story has progressed since the book came out, but couldn't find much. It's just such a scary scary thing. I can't believe it. I watch Big Love now and just think "Tip of the iceburg, people, tip of the iceburg".
It also makes me wonder how polygamy works in South Africa, what with our new prez and his 6 or so wives ... and then there's the King of Swaziland and his harem too. Is it like this for them too?
Everyone should read this book.
Not in the mood to blog this morning. Appreciate that it was a long weekend, and am so not looking forward to these 5 day weeks again :( Still not in a very happy place right now tho.
The plus-est side of my weekend was Varen & I building the levels for the bunny hutch on Friday. Is so completely awesome, I am thrilled :) On top of that, all three are now bonded (since Friday, it's so happy!).
Also got to see my cousin who was up Dragon Boating again :) Went to a wedding, watched some movies at home and had breakfast with @jarredcinman. Oh and started varnishing all the hutch-levels (so sadly the boons are living with just the ground floor right now as I wait for the varnish to dry in our recent overcast weather.
Am hoping I'll be out of this funk and back to normal soon.