Monday, August 31, 2009

Whirlwind Weekend

Ah, it's Monday ... again, already. Sigh, I tell you someone should really invent the every-week 3-day-weekend rule. My life would be happier :)

Sooo. So much to report back on. Friday started out spectacularly when a package arrived for me at work. A package? But I'm not expecting anything. Certainly not anything in a giant box ...? I became even more confused when I saw the package was from Barefoot Breaks. They were couriering up our air tickets for Zanzibar ... in a giant box? Well how's this for a brand plus? Inside the box, along with our tickets was a kikoi for each of us. Awesome! And definitely a fabulous was to start the day! (Must take a pic this afternoon when I get home, was meaning to all weekend ...).

Work ended a smidge early too as we all headed out for Farewell Drinks. And then I raced off home (amazed that there wasn't more traffic at 17h30 on a Friday afternoon?) and waited for Varen to arrive. Then we headed off to The Observatory at Aloe Ridge Hotel with a handful of the work crowd for their Dining Under the Stars experience. Yes, yes they have a truly horrendous website :P It's about as bad as the signage to the Hotel itself. So many people took a wrong turn at some giant sign pointing into the middle of nowhere :P And besides that the map on their site does little to warn you of the longer-than-you-expect dirt road (you have to go thru 3 gates!) to get there either. Needless to say, most of us were late!

Hmmm, it's a funny little place. The telescope is enormously impressive (you have to climb a ladder to see into the eye-piece, but the interior is done up in faux African face-brick and there was a movie on repeat with Hubble images projected on a screen in one corner. The food was fine, really nothing earth shattering to report - I had their Venus Sunrise (3 big prawns on a bed of cous cous) and then their deboned Oxtail, which was quite nice. Dessert was a Study of Chocolate. We went outside for a look into the telescope 3 times during the evening.

First we saw the moon. The crater detail was quite unbelievable and this was by far (for me) the most interesting thing we saw all evening. I guess because it was the closest up to anything we got. Next we saw Jupiter. But even with their giant 25" telescope, Jupiter was still only the size of a 1 Rand coin or so. We also saw 4 of it's moons. The pretty cool thing about Jupiter was it had a blue tint to the ball of light and we could see 2 lines across it, which I gather are from the speed at which it is spinning. Lastly we saw a globular cluster of stars.

Now it is quite amazing to see all this, I guess. But it's still all far tinier than you realise, being that it's so far away, even with this amazing magnification, it's small. Which I found disappointing. Also, I realised, I'm just not that into space stuff. Yeah great, millions of stars and galaxies all light years away blah blah, the light we see is thousands of years old if not more. It's honestly all just a little to large and far away for me. I can't get a perspective on it. It's almost like it's too much for my mind to fathom ... and honestly it doesn't seem especially relevant to me. I'm certainly not the alien-hunting type ;) For me, I'll just enjoy the lovely view of the moon and stars in our night sky :)

Saturday started with admin while Varen worked and then in the evening I got all dolled up and we headed off to Doodles' house for her 80's-themed birthday party :) What fun we had ... and how we laughed at what everyone was wearing. I'd teased my hair, put on some leggings, a demin skirt and an over-sized t-shirt that I stole out of Varen's cupboard and cut the neck out of. I will tell you that I was quite amazed that without spending a cent I could dress so appropriately. Haha! Was lovely to spend the night catching up with Ruby Letters, Angel&Glugs and @TomIsAwesome.

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On Sunday morning we headed out to The Cheese Shop for breakfast with some of Varen's family to celebrate his Dad's birthday. Then we attempted to do the week's grocery shopping. I stand by my rule that this needs to be done practically as the shops open on a Sunday morning or else not at all ... we couldn't track down a trolley in Woolies or PnP and even when we attempted to shop with just a basket a quick stroll into the aisles showed a sheer lack of almost everything fresh. Not to mention the Woolies queues that stopped us even bothering to pick up a basket there. As Varen said ... I should've known better on a month-end weekend!

We didn't do much else, other than a marathon bunny hutch cleaning session which involved up-ending the mouse nest behind the hutch. Sadly this time we had to kill 4 tiny pink babies :( I couldn't catch any of the adults and I wasn't setting these 4 free in my garden to have even more babies :P I tried on Saturday to find some humane traps, I tried The Lifestyle Garden Center, Builders Warehouse & Builders Express all of them stared at me with glazed eyes when I asked for a Humane Mouse Trap and pointed me off in the direction of the snap-and-kill variety. Clearly mine is a rare request. On Sunday we tried to make our own humane mouse trap. We'll see how it works, but I don't have high hopes ... I think we may just succumb to having to kill them :( But poison is simply out of the question. I am at my wit's end. I know it's not the mouse's fault ... they go where they find a safe spot (hidden away behind the hutch & not a cat in sight) and where they can find an abundance of food, water and bedding (all of which the bunny hutch provides for them!). Sigh.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Malice by Lisa Jackson

The scent is unmistakable a gardenias, sweet and delicate, the same perfume that his beautiful first wife, Jennifer, always wore. Opening his eyes in the hospital room where he's recovering from an accident, New Orleans detective Rick Bentz sees her standing in the doorway. Then Jennifer blows him a kiss and disappears. But it couldn't have been Jennifer. She died twelve years ago...

Once out of the hospital, Bentz begins to see Jennifer everywhere. Could she still be alive? But it was Bentz who identified Jennifer's body after her horrible car wreck, and there had been no question in his mind that it was her crumpled form behind the wheel, her clothes, her wedding ring. He's never doubted it a until now. He can't tell his new wife, Olivia, about the sightings or his secret fear that he's losing his mind. But Olivia is also hiding a secret...

When a copy of Jennifer's death certificate arrives in the mail, emblazoned with a red question mark, Bentz follows the postmark trail to Los Angeles, returning to the painful memories he's tried so hard to forget, and straight into a killer's web.

Someone's been waiting patiently, silently. Someone who knows exactly what happened that night twelve years ago and has been anticipating Bentz's every move. Soon it will be Bentz's turn to suffer for his sins. But he won't be the only one made to pay the ultimate price. For a diabolical killer has now made Olivia the prime target...

Okay, so this was a bit of a weird one. It's a pretty decent story as murder mystery's go, but I spent a lot of time thinking I'd read it before. But I mean like years ago. But when I checked the front of the book, I saw it was only published in 2009. Weird ... and annoying. It's not bad, but this book just didn't grip me for some or other reason.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nothing Serious

Yesterday afternoon Varen took (not so) little Rexy to the Animal Eye Hospital. Sigh, I was nervous the whole day, partly because I wasn't going along and obviously because I was dead-scared that it could be something serious. Eyes are sensitive, you know?

Shoo, the relief when Varen told me Rex would be fine. His vision is 100% the communication between his two eyes is 100% (whatever that is?). But he has an inflammation ... no doubt caused by the ulcer. Thankfully the ulcer has been gone for 2 weeks already (thanks to the Vigamox!), but the inflammation hasn't cleared. So now we have anti-inflammatory drops for him for the next 2 weeks. Finger's crossed this sorts it all out :)

Not much else happened, Varen went back to work and worked till about 11pm. I should have known he'd be working late again ... I was making my Roast Butternut, Feta and Biltong (with some avo thrown in cause it was in the fridge) Wraps. He's never come home on time a single evening I've made them. Seriously. But they are delish and easy and it really seems a waste to bother putting up a recipe post ... since literally I've already described all the ingredients in the name (except you can add in some cucumber). So delish and sooo easy to make! And I was feeling nice so I made one each for Varen & I for lunch today :) Yum, yum.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Early Morning Gifts

Smile. Yesterday my Etsy necklace arrived. I didn't see it till this morning tho because Varen had ordered for me after I coveted it on Twitter and it arrived at his offices. And he worked late.

It is my first Etsy purchasing experience and I'm thrilled with it. I was amazed at the awesome packaging and effort put in: Thanks BirdinFlightBoutique :)

> Follow Etsy on Twitter:

What a great way to start a morning ... with gifts :) And I *love* it. I was considering getting it engraved with Coal, Lily and Rex behind each of the bunnies, but they're really too tiny for that.

Which got me thinking about my favourite gifts from Varen:
  1. Building my Dream Hutch (even tho he couldn't visualise what I had planned, he built it exactly to spec for me and it's still one of my favourite things, ever)
  2. My Flopsy, Mopsy & Cottontail Necklace from Etsy
  3. My Birthday Weekend in Madikwe
  4. My Blackberry (how did I live without it?)
  5. My big bunny-girl Coal
And all of those help me remember I'm a spoilt girl :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

How Many Twits at a Tweetup?

Hmm, was that the weekend? They seem to fly by these days ... actually so do the weeks. Anyone else noticing that?

So Friday evening started with Rex's vet checkup. We stopped the Vigamox on Sunday evening (had been using it since the Tuesday before) to make sure that his eye stayed healed and improved. By Wednesday I was already wondering if it had. And then about half an hour before we were going to the vet, he buggered up his foot again. He was sitting by the gate and I think the next door dog snuck up to their gate and gave him a fright. Which meant he ran off at top speed and seemed to hurt his almost healed foot :P Silly bunny.

So yeah, I was right about his eye. The ulcer (thankfully) isn't back, but the red mark is back and red as ever :( We have an appointment at the Animal Eye Hospital on Tuesday :(

On Saturday after gym I went to visit Arkwife and Arkbaby with Louisa and Ruby Letters. What a lovely day we had, ooh-inh and ah-ing over teeny little Arkbaby, who has the fullest head of hair on any baby I've seen :) She was so well behaved and such a little darling. And it was just lovely to catch-up with these fabulous girls in real life for a change. Honestly, I had such a lovely day with them. I thought I'd be home around 13h30-ish and left Varen "studying" (instead read "reading"). Instead I was home closer to 16h30, the time just flew by. We ate so much and laughed and just generally caught-up. It was just what I needed :)

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And during the course of the day, I got an invite to dinner from YogaCherryl and @jarredcinman. So it turned out to be a pretty busy day because just before 6pm we headed off for a pre-dinner glass of wine at their (soon-to-be ex-) house. And then off to Shayona somewhere near the Oriental Plaza (do not ask me where!) where we met up with @jameshappe and another friend of theirs (a very interesting French guy out here working on the Gautrain). It's a fully vegetarian, non-alcoholic restaurant (hence the pre-dinner glass of wine at their place ;) ). And we tried their Thali's ... or rather their "Deluxe Lunch". Wow, what a lot of food. I don't think any of us finished our meals. There were samoosas and other Indian "bites" to start with followed by and entire tray of little dishes. Thank goodness they came with some kind of "sweet dessert" cause I ended up alternating mouthfuls when my tongue got too burny from the curry. I would also recommend accompanying your meal with a sweet lassi :)

The food was pretty good (still, I am a creature of habit and would probably still pick a chicken makhni over little vegetarian dishes any day ;) ) but the decor is very dull, almost like a standard Chinese restaurant except without all the red fans and Chinese-paraphernalia. For me, the food has to be spectacular if you're gonna completely skip decor in a restaurant ... unless it's a take-out place, of course. Anyway, still a fun night out with friends :)

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Sunday was far more lazy and Varen & I started off with breakfast at The Lifestyle Garden Center because one of the shops there stocks his all time favourite closest-he-can-get-to-IBC Rootbeer, which I think might've made his whole day :) And then we did some grocery shopping and some other general stuff before relaxing at home for the afternoon. Varen made us some delish chocolate mint muffins (I didn't pick the flavour! But they turned out nicely). Later he went to watch G.I. Joe. I didn't go, I stayed home, it just really didn't appeal to me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bunny Personalities

Last night I took Varen to Yamada Sushi in Rivonia to try it out (after @saulkza & I tried it 2 weeks ago at lunch). I think this may become our new favourite sushi spot :)

> Follow @saulkza on Twitter:

In other news, a quick bunny update. It's weird how their personalities are changing. My friend The Bunny Farmer never thought I'd stick with 3 rabbits as she said two would bond better with each other leaving a lonely third, which I'd feel sorry for and end up getting a fourth. I don't think it'll happen. Lily has occasionally tugged at my heart strings but I've spent enough time watching them all to know that I think she prefers a little more alone time than the others. And she is definitely far more bonded with Coal than Rex. It's when Coal is spending time with Rex that Lily heads off to do her own thing. And Coal spends plenty of time with both of them. And often enough all three are cuddled up together for me not to worry.

Coal has become a strange girl lately. She doesn't seem to be as affectionate or interested in human contact as she was when she was younger. She definitely seems protective of Rex too. Rex on the other hand is as affectionate and attention-hungry as ever. He's such a cutey and will happily sit munching grass next to me as I stroke his soft fur and tickle him behind the ears. And Lily has certainly grown into quite the little lady. She's a lot better with human contact now than she used to be (or maybe it's just contact from me). In the last week, Lily has been "playing" with me even :) It's a game Coal used to play with me and chase the others off during. Lily's not so aggressive but such a cutey to watch. Basically I sit on the grass on my knees and elbows, making a cave under my body for her. Which she inspects and runs in and out. Okay, so perhaps not the most exciting game, like throwing a ball for a dog, but she's oh so cute when she head-butts me to try and demand more space :) She's such a cutey and I'm loving the interaction with her for a change. She's by far the littlest of the lot now. Last week I had Rex weighed at the vet and he's over 2kgs already.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My First Book Launch

Last night was good. Varen was home before I went out. Although I had a minor freak out that we'd have to take Rex to the vet again last night (which we didn't end up doing). Poor boy, his eye seems to have regressed after stopping the anti-biotic drops. Will try not to freak out and take him as planned on Friday evening instead.

And then I headed off to Zenatude for my poker buddy's book launch :) Wow, it was quite a fabulous affair (although the snacks were in too short supply :( ). I bought myself a book (will get it signed at poker next week) and wandered the variety of rooms on display filled by Daring Dreamers, including a pole-dancing show.

I will say that I was thrilled by my first book launch experience and am now quite inspired to do one of The Fairy Godmother's Possibility Evenings and a Goal Setting Workshop. I think that's what I need in my life right now ... I need to figure out what I want out of life and start working to actually make it happen and hopefully along the way I won't find the mundane days in-between so soul-destroying. Okay, they're not so bad, but there's only so many hours of a day that I can be buouyed by time with my bunnies and the sunshine in my garden ... it's surviving the dark and staying positive and focused that I need to get figured out.

> Follow Donna McCallum on Twitter:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Mundane

I've made a decision. I might change it, I did make it while feeling quite depressed and lonely last night. But I have decided I'm not going to blog every (week) day anymore. I mean, hopefully I'll be blogging *almost* every day, but I've decided not to blog when there's nothing to tell. It just reminds me about the mundane. Which I definitely do not need reminding about.

Last night I was back to unexpectedly home alone. Now I don't mind being home alone, I've said it before. I just like to know in advance so I can plan my evening / meal / possible entertainment better. Last night I found out at around 6pm that Varen would be leaving work around 8 at the earliest. It was already dark, the boons were packed away in the hutch. I hadn't yet started dinner and found myself seriously lacking the energy. I also wasn't in the mood to watch anything. So I headed to bed at about 18h30 last night and read my book. I got up a bit later to heat up some soup for dinner and went and had a hot bath and then it was back to bed. I think I may be a hermit. I just wasn't in a very good place last night, bed provided a safe haven :)

This morning, at least, things seem a little bit better. I think that as much as I can make giant long-term plans for my life (travel, marriage, babies, my house etc.), what I really need is to figure out what I want from the mundane day-to-day bits, those are the bits that challenge me. Unfortunately I don't actually know how to figure this out tho ... anyway.

Also woke up not feeling all that great :( The weather seems to have turned back to chilly, which I kindof like clothes-wise. Nothing better than layering up :) The hard part is getting up and out of bed on time!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to Blissful

Yesterday was perfect. I arrived home the same time as Varen (he'd been out shopping to get the missing ingredient for last night's dinner) and we got to 'hang out' in the sunshine for a while :) We let the bunnies run around we chatted about his trip and life in general and our plans and goals for the future.

I popped out to go to gym and Varen had a little bit of a snooze. Silly boy is going back to work today after they phoned him yesterday. Shame, but I don't think he quite knows what to do with days off and no one else around (and no dstv, haha!) :) So he made dinner last night (I was going to, but I'd picked a longer-to-make, only an hour or so, meal for him to make on Tuesday evening since I thought he'd be home all day), a delish Mexican mince with Polenta Cobbler. It worked out really well actually :) So we ate dinner, drank some red wine and watched The Butterfly Effect.

I remembered really enjoying this movie when I first watched it so like with the others I've been watching lately I was curious to see it again. It's still and interesting movie. Hectic tho. I know this is a movie with multiple alternate endings, the one we watched last night had "The Open Ending".

Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday that I was amused by some cameo's I noticed in the movies I watched on the weekend. I spotted one of Meredith Grey's first roles, I'm sure, in Catch Me If You Can. I also loved Bones' cameo in My Sister's Keeper.

And this morning Varen was off to a new start, I was so impressed when he managed to drag himself out of bed just after 5am and off to gym. He was home again just as I was getting out of the shower. I can't quite explain why, but I really like it when we're both up pottering around at the same time in the mornings. I'm weird like that, but it made this morning a good start for me :) Things feel back on track.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Creation in Death by J.D. Robb

When the body of a young brunette is found in East River Park, marked by signs of prolonged and painful torture, Eve Dallas is catapulted back to nine years ago. A man the media tagged The Groom because he put silver rings on the fingers of his victims had the city on edge with a killing spree that took the lives of four women in fifteen days. But now, The Groom has returned - and Eve's determined to finish him. Familiar with his methods, Eve knows that he has already grabbed his next victim. When it turns out that the dead woman was employed by Eve's billionaire husband, Roarke, she brings him onto the case - a move that proves fitting when it becomes chillingly clear that the killer has made it personal. And chances are that he's working up to the biggest challenge of his illustrious career - abducting a woman who will test his skills on every level and who promises to give him days and days of pleasure before she dies: Eve.

I must say, I heart the "In Death" series by J.D. Robb. They're easy to read, have a murder mystery and great characters (I love Eve & Roarke ... I especially love Roarke!). Looking forward to reading a few more next time I'm back in Cape Town (I think Daddio owns about the entire series!).

* This book is part of the In Death series: Naked in Death (1995), Glory in Death (1995), Immortal in Death (1996), Rapture in Death (1996), Ceremony in Death (1997), Vengeance in Death (1997), Holiday in Death (1998), ~Midnight in Death (1998), Conspiracy in Death (1999), Loyalty in Death (1999), Witness in Death (2000), Judgment in Death (2000), Betrayal in Death (2001), ~Interlude in Death (2001), Seduction in Death (2001), Reunion in Death (2002), Purity in Death (2002), Portrait in Death (2003), Imitation in Death (2003), Divided in Death (2004), Visions in Death (2004), Survivor in Death (2005), Origin in Death (2005), Memory in Death (2006), ~Haunted in Death (2006), Born in Death (2006), Innocent in Death (2007), Creation in Death (2007), ~Eternity in Death (2007), Strangers in Death (2008), Salvation in Death (2008), ~Ritual in Death (2008), Promises in Death (2009)

~ included in Anthologies

Not a Single Soul

What a blissful weekend. Seriously folks, do you ever feel like you've had a holiday after just staying at home. I didn't see a single person this weekend (other than random strangers when I occasionally left the house). And what a beautiful weekend to do it on. I am loving the sunshine ... the bunnies, not so much :( I think their Northern Hemisphere systems need to adjust to this sudden turn in temperature!

Anyhoo, so on Friday night I had another check-up at the vet with Rex. His progress is still good and we continued the Vigamox drops until Sunday evening. We'll be visiting the vet again later this week for a final check-up to make sure it's not coming back. So I got myself some take-out and settled in to watch some old movies I had on the hard drive. The weekend started with Boondock Saints.

I was curious to see how the movie held up to my memory of it's awesomeness. It both did and didn't. It was a brilliant performance by Willem Dafoe, but I felt the ending fell a little short. Still, any movie with Billy Connolly is usually a winner for me :) I definitely think it warranted the watch tho!

Saturday started with gym and a delish breakfast at home. And then a lot of lazing around with the bunnies ... who were barely interested in leaving their cage in the warmth of the day. Oooh, and my radish & sunflower seeds are sprouting :)

I decided to make myself some pizza for dinner which turned out fabulously (except the dough wasn't quite right cause although I went to the shops and found the yeast and put it in my basket ... it doesn't seem to have ever left my basket and I arrived home without it :( This warranted plenty of phone calls to mom about alternatives. At 4pm on a Saturday who wants to head back to PnP?). It was delish and piled high with awesome toppings (bacon, feta, red pepper and avo) ... and the size of a baking tray. I couldn't even eat half of it ... but I enjoyed it again on Sunday and saved a bit for Varen.

I finally heard from him around 2pm, they survived the hike and would be home on Sunday :)

I spent the evening watching more old movie favourites: Finding Neverland and Catch Me If You Can.

I really enjoyed this one the (first and) second time, two of my favourite actors: Johnny Depp & Kate Winslet and a beautiful story.

And then Catch Me If You Can, a brilliant movie with two of my least favourite actors: Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. But like Boondock Saints, the ending fell short for me again with the second viewing. It's still a good movie tho and great fun :)

Sunday was another day spent in the sunshine with the bunnies. Although the day didn't start off nearly as well :P Our stupid neighbours alarm started going off at 08h30 and only finally stopped around 14h30. And they have one of those really annoying ones that stops after a little while then starts up again. I presume because eventually your ears start ignoring the sound. So they stop and then when they start up again it becomes your focus again. Okay so I have to ask. What the Hell is the Point of an Alarm these days? No, don't get me wrong, I'm not asking what the point of an alarm system is, I'm asking about the actual ear-splitting noise emitted by the alarm system. We do not live in a day or age or society where your neighbours are going to swing round to your house because your alarm is going off. You're just annoying the crap out of them! Surely a silent alarm to ADT notifying them to contact you and deploy their (usually useless) men is sufficient. Although, I mean I can sort of see the point if you might be at home during a break-in, asleep and need fair warning. Then surely the alarm can scream a few times ... like for 10-15 minutes at the max ... if you're not awake by then, then nothing can help you anyway. And then the alarm can stop ringing. It's done it's job. None of this incessant all-thru-the-day-and-night nonsense that is only annoying those around you. I mean chances are you've gone out and left a window open and the curtain has just blown across your motion sensor and we're left suffering for your mistake! It's insane. Does no one really think these things thru. I need to find out who owns this alarm and get their phone number so that, when their alarm is going off and annoying me, I can in turn annoy them.

On Sunday evening, to bide my time while waiting for Varen to finally arrive home, I went to watch My Sister's Keeper.

I think it was a pretty decent adaptation from the book. The only bizarre thing for me was Cameron Diaz in the "mom" role. I didn't think she'd gotten that old ... yeah, I dunno if she can pull it off, her playing this high-powered lawyer mom instead of the ditzy surfer chick, part of me is a non-believer.

I enjoyed the movie, but I managed not to cry (I'm not a big movie-crier) ... but I think I was one of the few - perhaps cause I'd read the book and spent most of the last half hour of the movie wondering if they were going to stick to the book ending or not. I'll let you know that they didn't, and it's probably just as well since the cinema might've been flooded ;)

Still, a truly hectic story, I think.

And then there are a few other bits and bobs to mention. I had a bit of a blog-feature update on Friday. I used my javascript know-how and some help from online sources and added in these cool Twitter additions (see a few of the posts below, unfortunately I couldn't find anyone relevant from this post on Twitter). I've also started tagging my bunny-related posts and listed them under a new section in my "Looking for Something Specific?" sidebar section. And also, without wanting to jinx anything, something serendipitous may have happened yesterday afternoon ... involving my Canada trip & @clairam. Will update you when I know more :)

> Follow @clairam on Twitter:

And Varen is finally home. He eventually arrived yesterday evening at about 9pm after a long long day of driving with sore feet and dirty clothes. Was quite lovely to have him home :) And I'm even more glad (although completely jealous!) that he has two days off at home before he has to be back at work.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nam Jim Chicken

So this is another recipe from my beloved Women's Weekly collection (Low-Fat Delicious). As I've said previously, it contains way too strong coriander flavour for Varen to enjoy it, but I just love it. And I realised when I made it again, for my Mom, just how easy it actually is :)

** recipe requires a blender of some sort! **

So here's the recipe (serves 4):

  • 8 chicken thigh fillets (approx 800g) (I've also used chicken breast)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar (I just used brown sugar, it was the closest I could find)
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves
  • 3 cups (240g) bean sprouts (I used the Mung Bean sprouts from Woolies)
Nam Jim Sauce ingredients:
  • 31 long green chilies, chopped coarsely (seeded, obviously!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered (I just used a teaspoon of ready crushed garlic)
  • 10cm stick (20g) fresh lemon grass, sliced thinly (now this I've never managed to find - anyone know where I could find some? - so used dried lemon grass, doesn't blend well so I'd recommend leaving it out entirely!)
  • 3 green spring onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1 coriander root, chopped coarsely (can't find this either so just throw in some of the fresh coriander)
  • ¼ cup (60ml) lime juice (lemon juice will do the trick equally well)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar (and again, I just use simple brown sugar)
Combine chicken in large bowl with cumin, coriander and sugar. Toss to coat chicken in mixture. Cook chicken, in batches, in heated lightly oiled (up to you if you need an oiled pan or not, I choose non-stick) frying pan until browned all over and cooked through. Make Nam Jim sauce by blending or processing ingredients till smooth. Serve chicken on combined fresh herbs and sprouts, topped with Nam Jim sauce.

Recipe Book says the preparation time is approx 20 minutes and the cooking time is another 20 minutes. Another easy meal that comes out looking amazing if you're planning on serving it for guests!

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED began in 1857, it was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Okay, this book isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it. Not in a murder-mystery sense ... let me put you out of your doubt there, there really is no mystery here. But it's very interesting historically and I read it over the time I was getting back into my family tree history, so it really helped fire me up. (And yes, that is still happening in the background ... was put a bit on the back-burner while Mom was up visiting).

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

My 4day Weekend With Mom

So Mom was up in Joburg for my 4day long weekend and we did plenty :) Mostly it was just the two of us because Varen headed off to stay at his Dad's place after dinner on Saturday night and they all (Varen, his Dad, BrotherSwoop & BrotherZion) left for The Fish River Canyon around 4am on Sunday morning.

We Ate Out
Varen took Mom & I out to dinner at Cilantro on Friday night. I had their Mezeterranean, which was nice enough, but I wasn't hungry enough (having snacked on left over Butternut & Prawn Soup!).

On Saturday evening, the three of us headed to Norwood to try Hokkaido Sushi (as recommended by @saulkza). It was delish, although I have to reiterate here that I am so much more a fan of the sushi-go-round or the 3-4 piece portion than the 8-piece portion offered by most sushi spots (this one included). It means I have to share with someone else because when it comes to sushi, I'm all about the variety. And Mom & I shared some delicious variety of sushi: Tempura Prawn Rolls, Salmon Roses for me and Nigiri for her, Prawn Fashion Sandwiches and Salmon Rainbow Rolls (there may have been something else, but I forget!). Yum.

Which reminds me, @saulkza & I had sushi for lunch last week at a little place in Rivonia called Yamada Sushi. Now this place get's three thumbs up from me so far. One for their liberal use of caviar, one for their 3-4 piece portions and another for having a sushi-go-round (although it wasn't running at lunch time!) :) Although there's still a thumb down for having a menu where I can't work out what everything actually is (sushi should come with pictures, every place seems to name things differently!).

(damn, as I type this, I'm starting to crave sushi again!)

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We ate breakfast on Monday morning at Espresso Cafe & Bistro in Parkhurst. Sigh, now that I'm boy-cotting Doppio Zero, I'm at a bit of a loss for breakfast venues :( We had a look at other menus around Greenside and then headed to Parkhurst. I dunno, I guess I'm a fussy breakfast eater. Mostly because I want something a little more interesting than I can make at home, and no restaurants seem to get my eggs quite right :P (I like them soft, okay?). I was less than elated with Espresso. I was under the vague impression Breakfast might be their thing (haven't been there too often before), but I was clearly mistaken. They have a very dull breakfast menu. But the rest of their menu does look good :) (And again, seriously, who doesn't take credit or debit cards?!)

And here's another thing that get's to me. Freaking Smokers. Now with the Smoking laws (which I love), the Smokers inevitably get the entire outside area. Which is annoying ... I like to sit outside. That doesn't mean I like to get smoke blown at me while I eat my meal tho. Sigh.

On Tuesday we had lunch at Caffe Rossini in Cresta. Was quite impressed :) Until I saw their website, seriously folks, is that thing for real? I hope you didn't pay someone for that! But the food was good and the menu looks good too ... may have to go back, on the off chance that I feel like eating in a shopping mall (unlikely at best). And we drank Mojito's with our lunch. A lovely way to spend the day when you know you're meant to be at work :)

After dropping Mom at the airport on Tuesday afternoon, I met up with Rom (from our blind-date friends) at The Portuguese Fish Market in Melville for dinner. I had prawns and was quite impressed :) It was lovely to see her again ... it's taken absolute ages because she had her folks out visiting for a few months and then we were trying to find a night that suited the 4 of us, which seems like it may be an impossible task! So we gave up and had a girls night. Which I hope we'll do more often now :)

We Ate In
So aside from the Thai-style Butternut & Prawn soup I made on Thursday evening for dinner, I also made Mom my Free-form Spinach & Feta Pie and the Nam Jim Chicken - which I raved about when I first made it because I loved it, but Varen didn't, too much coriander. So what an ideal time to try it out again. And it was delish, again. Recipe will follow shortly :)

We Watched Movies
While Mom was up, we worked our way thru our dismal DVD collection. First, on Saturday evening, I introduced Mom to quite possibly of my favourite movie of the year so far, The Dark Knight. Then on Sunday evening, we watched Burn After Reading.

On Monday we switched things up a bit and actually went to an afternoon movie at the big-screen. Not a helluva lot showing, but we found one girly mother-daughter option with The Proposal.

Meh, I found it decidedly average. Mostly what I found was that as much as I actually enjoy Sandra Bullock, I wasn't rooting for her character during this. Although I suppose that by the end where "true love triumphs" and they get together for real, you're supposed to be. (Oh sorry, did I spoil it for you? Seriously, you must've known how the film was gonna end? Probably even just from seeing the poor movie poster above, you shoulda known!). And I do quite like Ryan Reynolds, but really, please ... another rich-gem found unsuspectingly hidden in the working classes. I'm getting so freaking tired of this plot-point. Yes, life would be so lovely if the boy we met and fell in love with turned out to be tremendously wealthy and we could while away our days doing the things we really love instead of toiling for a pay-check. But life's not like that. Then again, I guess real life isn't what we're heading to the cinema to see.

And then to finish up, we watched my copy of Grease while we ate dinner.

Ah, Grease, you've gotta love it. It's a classic, and if you're not singing along to most of the songs, where have you been? I can't explain why I love some movies, more especially why I love some movies that were made before I was even a twinkle in someone's eye ... but I do, and Grease & Rocky Horror certainly fit the bill.

We Gymmed
We managed to get to Curves twice in the long weekend (impressive or what?!). Was kinda cool to be gyming with Mom ... and nice for her to see my Curves and compare it to hers, back in Cape Town.

We Shopped
Last weekend I went looking for jackets in the Cape Union Mart sale and the one I really wanted was not on sale. It was still being sold for a whopping R1499. You know the one with the removable fleecy inner. Anyway, so I took Mom off to Clearwater Mall to actually go and finally bite the bullet and make the purchase. And they were having an awesome Women's Day Sale ... on *my* jacket (the K-Way Mont Rosa Ski Jacket). It was marked down to R999. How freaking brilliant is that? I was chuffed.

On Monday after breakfast, I took Mom to the Lifestyle Garden Center because I decided I wanted to garden (must've been the spurt of sunshine this weekend!). My garden shelves have been looking quite dismal and dead lately and they definitely needed a bit of a spruce up. At the moment they're not looking all that much better, because they're quite bare ... but there are seeds in them thar pots! I also got myself a nice Rose (which I'm hoping will survive this time ... because bunnies heart rose petals!) and a Perennial Basil. I coulda got so so much more. The seeds I planted were: Dwarf Sweet Peas (not the climbing ones), Black-Eyed Susan, Nasturtium (I'm hoping the bunnies will enjoy eating it since it usually grows like a weed!), Kale, Chili, Raddish and Beetroot. Hopefully in about a month I'll be able to take a better picture with some growth (finger's crossed!).

And still, we did more...
I took Rex to the Vet on Tuesday morning, which I've mentioned already. I haven't spoken to Varen since Tuesday morning when they actually entered the Canyon to start the hike - a whole day early :) They got bored hanging out at the campsite! I'm thrilled cause hopefully he'll be home a day earlier now. It sounds like it's very hot and it's driving me nuts not being able to touch base with him and hear how it's going (even if only by sms). I'll hear from him again when they finish the hike sometime only on Saturday. Sheesh.

And I think that surely must be all of it!

Another Trip to the Vet

Last night was lovely. I went home from work (what seemed like an awfully long day!) and sat in the sun in the garden watching the boons run-around. Rex is still limping :(

On Tuesday morning I took him to the vet because he'd started limping on Monday and I wanted his right eye checked out. A while ago he wasn't opening his right eye, but the next day he was again so I didn't worry too much about it. Then last week I noticed there was a red circle in the brown of his eye. Varen said not to worry it's probably just a burst blood vessel. So I didn't. But then when I was sitting with them in the garden on Sunday, I realised (looking at Lily who has blue eyes so it's much easier to notice) that rabbits pupils are usually quite large. And I noticed that Rex's eye with this burst blood vessel was not dilated nearly as much as his other one. Hence the trip to the vet.

The vet thinks he may have sprained his foot or got himself a hair-line fracture in his toe. Both of which are things we can't really do anything about and have to let them heal on their own. He's had anti-inflammatories for the last 2 days, but he's still limping :( But then again he's also still racing around the garden like a crazy thing. Not so smart if you ask me :)

The vet checked his eye on Tuesday and put in this weird flourescent stuff that glows green where there are problems and there was a huge green circle in Rex's eye ... no doubt an ulcer he said. Luckily with anti-biotic drops 3 times a day, when I took him in for his check-up yesterday, the green glowing circle was gone (yay!) and the burst blood vessel seems to be improving and his pupil was more dilated than the day before. I have to take him back for another check-up on Friday evening tho, just to make sure. But he's helluva unimpressed with me at the moment :(

Sheesh, these bunnies!

Above is a picture I took of him during his daily mid-morning nap. It's the cutest thing. It doesn't matter if they have the run of the whole garden, come 9h30 - 10am, Rex goes and cuddles up in one of the boxes in the hutch, surrounded by hay, and enjoys the morning sunshine while he snoozes. He reminds me of a little old man :)

And then I just hung out at home, made myself some dinner, tried to finish my long-weekend post (not done yet, sorry!) and had a hot relaxing bath. Sometimes being on your own can be lovely ... just having some space. But I tell you, when I crawl into bed and turn the light out, it's not nearly as much fun!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brief Hello

I'm back from my 4-day weekend. It was certainly hard to get up on time this morning ... not least of all because the first thing I had to do was go downstairs, extract Rex from the hutch and drop anti-biotics into his eye! (More on that later). I definitely have a post brewing about the weekend with Mom and all we got up to on these last few delightfully hot days (sadly I had briefed Mom on the weather of the freezing weekend before and she brought up her winter woolies. The boons we equally unimpressed by our little heat-wave and have barely moved for the last few days!), but I had planned on getting a head start last night ... which didn't quite happen because the dinner I was meant to go to tonight got pushed forward and I went last night instead. So no time for pre-packaging a long weekend post then :)

In other news, Mom is safely home in Cape Town. Varen is off hiking in the Fish River Canyon (with no freaking signal till he's out again on Saturday!). And I'm right here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Yay, Mom Has Arrived

Yawn. Again. This has not been a good week for sleep.

I spent most of the evening just waiting till I could go and fetch mom from Lanseria :) Jees, Malibongwe is hazardous to drive at night these days - there are no lights and the entire stretch is practically a road-work. Sheesh.

Then we came home and I made my Thai-style Butternut & Prawn soup for dinner and I introduced her to Lily & Rex, who she'd never met. We chatted a while and then went to bed. I couldn't sleep. I don't know what time Varen got home last night either.

Sigh. Things are not great between us. Well, maybe they would be better if we'd seen each other a little this week (Monday night is a long time ago!). But that's not the only thing, and it's certainly not something I want to blog about. At least Mom is here so I can ignore the toll life is taking on my relationship, if only for a few days :)

Have a fabulous long weekend, I'm on leave on Tuesday (for an extra long weekend with Mom) so will only be blogging again next Wednesday :)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Occupying Myself

Had such a lovely afternoon at home with the boons yesterday ... although Lily is annoying Coal & Rex by trying to constantly mount them (I think perhaps she's in heat or something? Or she's decided to try and upset the order of hierarchy in the hutch).

And after the comments on yesterday's post, I realised that I hadn't posted a photo of them in a while. So I took some. Usually I let them run free between 4pm and sunset (roughly 6pm these days) and then head off to gym (tricky to do after you're home and have relaxed for 2 hours ... but I prefer allowing my boons longer outside time, it;s all about priorities :) ). Sometimes it's easy to round them up and herd them back into the hutch, sometimes it's not and you have to catch each one individually. Sometimes, like last night, they will have hutched themselves ... providing a great opportunity for some photos :)

And then I spent the evening pretending Varen had already left for the Fish River Canyon (he's actually off early on Sunday morning) ... because he had to work late. On of those typical crisis where he's the only one who can fix something and it's gotta be done ... or his leave may be canceled. I think he got home at around 23h00 last night ... and no, it wasn't done yet :P So no doubt he'll be working late again tonight. Am marginally annoyed that I'm not really getting any decent quality time with him before he leaves, but I understand, he's gotta get this done.

So I phoned my gran to check on her post-hip-op progress and got distracted along the way with old Family Stories :) And Mom arrives this evening. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Yawn. Am so tired this morning because I only got home from Book Club around 11pm last night ... to find Varen up watching Dark Knight. Me, when he's not home, I go to bed at my usual bedtime and follow my same-old routine (because it's the only way I can wake up at 6am) ... not him. Some people are just wired differently. And then I went up to bed and he stayed watching. I was so annoyed ... even when he's home before me I don't get to cuddle in bed with him :P But then he came up just after I put the light out which was such a sweet surprise ... since I *know* the movie wasn't finished yet!

Book Club was good. Lovely to have a night out with the girls. I dunno why but it feels like absolute ages since the last one! Yawn. Am really just too tired to type sense right now.

Ps. Have been a touch worried about Lily lately. She always seems to be on her own while Rex & Coal are cuddled together. Shock, Horror, I found myself wondering if perhaps a playmate for her, a fourth bunny, might not be a good idea ... luckily I was able to squash that idea with scenes from last night & this morning. All three of them lying like sausages next to each other in one of the boxes. They're so so cute when they're all cuddled up together :) Makes my heart melt!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What Makes Us Remember a Dream?

Yawn. I had one of those nights where I feel like I didn't sleep. Although I probably did ... I just had raging dreams. Again. Seriously folks, what do you think it is that makes one remember their dreams? Do you think it's something I've been eating? Because I'm not kidding when I say that before 2009 my dream remembering was at a bare minimum. Like a rare event. Now it's practically weekly if not more! It is surreal. The topic for the last 2 nights has been family. First I dreamed my Gran (on Mom's side) was living in her car (there was a bunch of other stuff too, but that's the thing that's stuck with me since I woke up and the dream floated away). And last night (in my dream) I ended up at a big family reunion with Daddio's aunts ... who are the greatest of fun! Seriously, one of my best memories of them is from an evening spent around a kitchen table with a bottle of wine (or some other alcohol), while we were up for my Gran's (on Dad's side) funeral in 2001, with two of her sisters, Daddio and his youngest brother talking up a storm, listening to them reminisce about their childhood and still arguing like sisters - haha! The best stories in my opinion are family memories. I wish I could have recorded them all!

Anyhoo, my guess is that one particularly is because of all the family-tree-ing I've been up to lately!

Otherwise last night was quiet. I made dinner and then Varen watched Burn After Reading while I got my geneaology on ;) The boons are all good. Although for some reason Coal was really miffed with me yesterday from the moment I arrived home. She wouldn't come out of the hutch for ages, and wouldn't take basil from me (although she'd eat it if I dropped it in front of her and left her - this is weird cause usually they're climbing all over me to get to it!). And I've noticed Rex has hurt his eye. Varen thinks it's just a burst blood vessel, in the brown part (his iris), which apparently is okay (because Varen has done this himself and asked an optometrist). But I'm still not thrilled about it.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Plenty Busy

Friday was an interesting day at work. As I said last week, I had clients from 2 of my projects here and wasn't feeling especially up for it (at least that improved a little after some breakfast). And that all went fine. But because close to surreal when the one client whipped out his cooler bag and poured mini Jägerbombs into teacups for the 4 of us (3 of us and himself), to celebrate the progress he felt we were making. This was followed up with a glass of vodka & lemonade for the 2 girls and beers for the boys. Sheesh. Talk about surreal. Haha.

Varen was home early enough and we decided to get a dvd for the evening. What luck we had! Although we have terrible luck at choosing dvds (cause we've generally seen everything we actually want to watch on big screen), we decided on Dark Knight and Iron Man (Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an iron can - wahahaha!) because, honestly, who can get enough of either?! And while Varen was paying, I went browsing thru a box of dvds they had for sale ... and found Dark Knight (these are dvd's they've bought in abundance for when they first release on dvd and everyone wants to rent them ... but 3 months later can scale down from 20 copies to about 3). And Burn After Reading (Varen's favourite movie of the year). What a score ... for a mere R59.95 each. I think it made his whole evening.

Although, we did actually only end up watching Iron Man ... the urgency was gone now that we own the other two :)

On saturday I barely saw Varen. I was up and off to gym at around 9am. And he headed off to @TobyKurien's for a LAN Party.

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I had plenty to keep me busy for the day tho ... not that it all worked out very well. First I couldn't get my Singulair from the Pharmacy (they were closed for stock take!) and then I went grocery shopping for our mini-dinner party that evening. And then I headed off to Clearwater Mall to check out their Cape Union Mart & Due South (apparently everyone's having sales at the moment so thought it'd be an ideal time to buy myself one of those big cold-weather jackets for Canada) and Outdoor Warehouse round the corner. Found nothing :( On the up side I did have a blast doing some other shopping for an event I have coming up this weekend (Am not saying what in case it's supposed to be a surprise?).

And then I went home to recover from the driving and walking around all day. Did I mention it was rainy and drizzly all day? Lovely, like Cape Town winter :) But a day much better spent in doors. So when I got home, I lit my Chiminea and settled down with Gramps, while the boons spent some time running about outside (until the lightning & hail started ... but they were all in the hutch already by then :) ).

At around 6pm, BrotherSwoop and his lady arrived for dinner ... before Varen was even back from his game-playing day :) He didn't arrive too long later, and I'm glad he had such a good day. I really think he needs carefree days like that to just clear his mind from his stressful weeks trying to fit everything in. I made my Free-form Spinach & Feta Pie and served it with Chicken Schnitzels and steamed Butternut. Yum-yum. They came over so that we could try out BrotherSwoop's recently acquired Zombie Fluxx :) It was freaking awesome. Although it requires a lot more concentration than normal Fluxx (that The Peeb has and started us all on it) and Eco-Fluxx (my version).

Sunday was a more lazy day also spent getting things done. We started out with a late breakfast at Doppio in Rosebank (after our last disappointing experience in Greenside, we decided to drive the extra kilometers). I still am not thrilled with them after they removed my favourite breakfast off their menu, the Napoli, it's like the entire reason I went there! And the Barbarosa, although yummy, doesn ot quite compare. Especially when the total Feta contribution to the meal was a measly five pieces. Seriously folks? So now I will be investigating new breakfast spots (recommendations most welcome!!).

And then it was off to do our week's grocery shopping and home to clean the bunny hutch. We're both thrilled with how the tarp base is working! But we still had to un-assemble the whole hutch because we had a mouse nest brewing in the gap behind. An ideal spot for them, I realise now, but oh well, it's certainly not what we have planned. So I managed to catch 11 of the mice living back there and we went and set them free in the field. Eleven! And then later we found another 5 that were hiding in the hay, that I couldn't catch :P Sigh. Never ending. I am more glad than ever tho that it's all outside! The bunny hutch is so nice when it's just been cleaned :)

And then we went to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and the wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together, they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information.

Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry finds himself more and more drawn to Ginny, but so is Dean Thomas. And Lavender Brown has decided that Ron is the one for her, only she hadn't counted on Romilda Vane's chocolates! And then there's Hermione, simpering with jealously but determined not to show her feelings. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

Okay, as usual, I was looking forward to the latest Potter installment, but found it very meh. Nothing spectacular. I like to think it's because I've read the books ... but Varen (who hasn't) felt like it was 3 hours wasted. I dunno. I love the characters ... well some of them. But I think it's awfully unfortunate that they've turned out the way they have. Both kid's playing Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy have not grown into teenagers I think would ever have been cast in these roles. And I must say, regardless of movie or book, I *hate* the fact that JK Rowling added the love interest between Hermione & Ron (puke, she's lovely, he's a git) and Harry & Ginny (find her boringly ordinary and annoying too!). Oh well. Here's to the last book split into a two-parter movie :)

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