Friday, April 26, 2013

Thirty Three Today

So I had a pretty awesome evening yesterday :) We hadn't planned anything, but The Trucker was his usual sneaky self and had made a dinner booking for us at Cafe del Sol.

We had an amazing and special dinner. We chatted about our future life plans ... where we want to live, holiday houses we dream of owning and if we actually want to get married or not. I had one of my all-time favourite dishes to start, their Beetroot Carpaccio (thinly sliced beetroot topped with gorgonzola, orange slice and strawberries). The Trucker tried their Italian Primevera Rolls. I tasted one and they were also very good.

We sipped bubbly to celebrate (because aside from my birthday, the other good news is that the Agent phoned me yesterday afternoon to say our rental application is looking good, but he was going to a funeral that afternoon so we'll probably only hear for sure today. Keep those fingers crossed, people!)

I ordered one of their special's for my mains, Prawn and Chorizo in a Napoletana sauce with fresh Tagliatelle. Superb. The Trucker, surprisingly didn't have pasta. He decided on the Bacon & Brie Matured Beef Fillet. OMG, I tasted it and it was amazing. Seriously. So delish. Love this little restaurant!

We headed home, where The Trucker had sneaked for Filo Yoghurt into  our freezer for dessert (he'd left cricket practice early to get there in time before it closed). He got us the Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Berry flavours to taste. Don't worry, we couldn't even come close to finishing those huge tubs after our amazing dinner. But apparently it'll keep just fine for us in the freezer :) It was really yummy.

We didn't do gifts this morning, it would be too crazy even trying to squeeze more than 2 minutes of anything extra into my morning mad-dash to leave the house by 6:05am. But I did see a large gift bag out on the counter to tempt me. So rude ;) We'll do that later before we head to Kruger this afternoon. Am so excited for our trip, I haven't been to Kruger since about a month after I first moved to Joburg (2004)!

I got in to work this morning to find my desk decorated, as is the office tradition. The flowers look amazing. And I'm not sure who the bunny "outfit" is supposed to be a gift for, me or The Trucker ;) Haha. But it is clearly based on of my unusual pet choice :) Looking forward to a good Friday.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I am a Girl in ICT: My Story

So, along with that invite to the VISA/FNB Bank Card Security Week intro, I also got another "Conference" invite this month (feeling very schleb!). The one I have most been looking forward to was today at the Focus Rooms for Girls in Information and Communication Technology.

Again, it was quite a nice venue ... although I did have a little chuckle to myself when I noticed that they said "Conveniently located in the heart of Joburg’s business district" on their website ... and they're in Sunninghill :P Ah well, I suppose it is "broader Sandton".

Back to the conference. It seemed a little overwhelming when I first walked in and there was one other person sitting in a sea of empty chairs. But it soon filled with the panelists, speakers and a few "journalists" (yes, that's what I got to play at today ... you'll soon realise the irony, I hope). And the rest of the seats were taken up by Grade 11 and 12 school girls from, I think, about 5 different schools (having not grown up in Joburg, I don't know which).

Melanie Botha opened with the story of how she became a Girl in ICT. This was followed by an introduction to the 6 panelists: Pippa Tshabalala, Palesa Sibeko, Lebogang Madise, Ntokozo Ncongwane, Shana Kay and Tsoanelo Takaendesa. They told their stories.

And now I'm inspired to share mine. Yes, I am a Girl in ICT. I am a Girl Coder. That's my day job.

My dad bought our first family computer when I was 11, back in 1991. It had one of those small square monochrome monitors where the screen was only black with yellow text. I think it was a 386. We started out with 2 floppy disk drives and 2 stiffy disk drives. Now there are people who don't even know what those were. We used to boot up into DOS from a single floppy disk. I remember the days of zipping files up across multiple stiffy disks. The first computer game I played was Hangman. And, really that was about all we used the computer for, for a while. The Peeb loved the touch-typing games. I preferred Monty (it never looked that good on our screen) ... and Cal Games.

When I was in Standard 7 (Grade 9, 1994), our school started offering Computer Science from Standard 8 to Matric (Grade 10 - 12). We could take an aptitude test about half way thru the year if we were interested. Dad said I should try and see if I could get in. I think he knew this was the way the world would be heading (I later discovered The Peeb and I had played with Punch Cards as kids, not knowing what they were, that were left over from a Computer course he had done). So I did the test and was one of maybe 5 girls who made it into the class for the following year. I learnt to think logically and programmatically at school using Turbo Pascal.

My first email client was Pegasus. It was text based. We used to mail each other around the Computer Room because we didn't know anyone else with email.

I used the Internet for the first time while on my Standard 9 (Grade 11) Job Shadow in 1996. I had no idea what to use it for. I looked up all the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons using Yahoo. There was no Google, there was no Wikipedia.

I remember going to friend's houses (with the latest computer and latest games) to play things like King's Quest and Monkey Island. We played Duke Nukem (back when it was still in 2D) and mined spice, avoiding sandworms in Dune. And the very first Sim City.

At some point, Dad had brought home a hard drive which had replaced one of the floppy drives. Exciting times. I think we ran Windows 3.1 on that. Windows looked very different back then and what a change from the text-based DOS. And then eventually, we upgraded to a Pentium with Windows 95.

When I left school, I came 3rd in my Computer Science class. It was my only A for Matric. But I didn't want to be a programmer. I had this vision of programmers sitting in these dark rooms with a tiny far away window letting little light in. No, that wasn't for me. And I'm sad to say the year after ours was the last year that offered a full Computer Science subject, before the school moved on to offer Computer Literacy instead. I hope that has changed these days ...

I went to study in the fascinating new field of Multimedia. I was one of very few people arriving with a Programming background, trying to learn the creative side. Mostly my course was filled with creatives who struggled to train their minds to think programatically. I learnt the relevant software, I still have a CD ROM of "latest versions" that has Photoshop 6, Dreamweaver 4 and Flash 5. I dabbled with the social networking of the time ... I couldn't get into IRC, I tried ICQ. Talking to and meeting random strangers was never my strong suit (till Twitter). I loved Multimedia and Macromedia Director was my favourite. I dreamt of being a CD ROM developer. Remember the days of Enhanced CDs by bands?

I worked for about a year in the design industry when I decided to head back to college and get back to my programming roots. My friends at the time were all learning a little programming as part of their Business degrees and I was feeling left out and I knew I could be better than them at it. I studied C, C++ and Java. I have never looked back.

Take heart tho, I never ever liked the hardware side of IT. Give me a working computer, don't ask me how much RAM there is or what my CPU is. I have no idea. I like to say I'm the Least Geeky Programmer I know. Boys all seem to love the technical hardware type stuff. If you don't, please hear me, that does NOT mean that you don't have a future in the IT industry. I used to make my instructors laugh as I preferred to describe the memory board as a little town, with green grass, gold roads and little buildings.

I've worked solidly as a Java Developer since 2002. I don't sit in a dark room with only one window for light. I currently get to work on building the back end of large corporate websites and campaigns. I've never had another Girl Programmer in my team (except as HTML coders). There is, without a doubt, space in this industry for you!

I hope the girls today got some inspiration about what is possible. I certainly enjoyed my afternoon :)

So Much Going On

So here we are, my last day of 32 ... showee it has been quite the roller coaster year. The worst break up and the best make up ever. And lots of amazing holidays :)

Right now, I can look back and say it was a good year, a year that has definitely ended with me in a very happy place, and a place I have been trying to get to for a long time. One that involves a plan for a future and a family and a partner. I am blessed.

Aside from the reflections on the highlights of my Thirty-Second year tho, it has been a quiet week generally. The Trucker had cricket on Monday night so I had a lovely quiet evening at home with the remote control and my cute little kitten-cat. She is such a funny little thing. I completely adore her and all her crazy noises.

On Tuesday evening SCM relocated to @samanthaperry's place for her birthday (which was last Saturday) dinner. It was a lovely evening with yummy food, as usual :) I'm planning on hosting my birthday SCM too ... but only in May.

Which brings me to another spot of news. Today The Trucker and I will be handing over another signed lease. We saw the place yesterday and it is pretty much the exact same unit as the one we signed for last time, but in the complex next door.  And this one has been done up nicely (new wooden floors thruout!) and we got to meet both the Managing Agent and the Owner (who was still busy with fixing things up) yesterday. We are not getting too excited yet, but am holding thumbs and crossing fingers that this is the one! And if it is ... moving date is 01 May! Whoop whoop. Which means we'll all (both of us and all our stuff into our new house and his sister into mine) move over the month of May. Very exciting folks :)

Oh, and in other exciting news, I planned a birthday party. I know, it is pretty much unheard of for me ... the last time I did anything really special was my 30th. Then I wasn't here for my 31st and last year I thought about organising something but it became too overwhelming when I, again, ended up with multiple groups with too many to host comfortably at home in each. It gets expensive doing all this hosting.

So this year almost slipped by without a whisper too ... till  I got a bee in my bonnet and decided I would go the "I'll be at this spot from this time, pop thru if you can" route with only just over a week's notice to people and see who could make it, because organising around trying to get everyone to make it is exhausting. So next Friday evening (all my May Saturdays are already booked) it's on. And the invite list is long ... and so many lovely people have already rsvped :) I'm looking forward to it and glad I made the effort :)

And I'm also excited for our mini-break to Kruger, which we leave for tomorrow :) Here's to seeing lots and lots of awesome animals and a wonderful "just the 2 of us" break!

Yes, life is good :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

World War Z by Max Brooks

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. 

World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Thoroughly enjoyed this! Really. Okay so the ending wasn't great, or rather there is no real way to end a book with this sort of style ... so that was meh. But other than that I really enjoyed it. The style was fun and entertaining. Sheesh it's a scary thought. Am now rather curious what the movie due in June will be like.

Even if you don't like Zombies, read this :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Last Pre-Thirty Three Weekend

So I had quite a nice weekend (aren't they all :) ). It was raining spectacularly on Friday ... and Saturday morning. So lovely to wake up to the sound of the rain :) Love it.

On Friday evening we stayed in and had warm tomato soup and grilled cheese toasts for dinner. That is honestly one of my favourite dinners (Woolies Tomato Soup FTW!), and this weather definitely called for it :)

On Saturday morning we were up at a reasonable hour. We made breakfast at home ... I'd seen Harissa Eggs in Purgatory from Skinny Taste on Pinterest during the week and mailed it to The Trucker. We do love our Harissa :) OMG it was so devine. We had toast with chicken rashers topped with the Harissa Eggs ... So so good.

Then it was off to get some admin out of the way. Part of that admin was switching The Trucker's SIM card so he could start using his brand new iPhone 5. Which is very exciting because that means I inherited his Samsung Galaxy S2. Big Smiles :D No more Blackberry for me .... yeah, I guess I could've waited for my upgrade (01 May) but apparently the new specials only come out on the 7th of each month (Vodacom). And currently the Samsung S3 (which is what I actually want) is a little out of how much I can rationally spend ... since I also suddenly have to start buying data for it too! But the good news is  that the S4 should be arriving with their new deals. Which should significantly bring down the price of the S3 for me :) So I think I'll prob stick on the S2 for a month or two and then upgrade again. Yay, I can not tell you how pleased I am to be off Blackberry! That and I've been dying to use Instagram :)

So yeah, the rest of the afternoon was spent setting up and playing with our phones. I thought I might be able to get away with a 250Mb data bundle ... I only use Facebook and Twitter really ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I am definitely going to have to upgrade to 500Mb. Sheesh. Currently I have switched to the office wifi :P I think I've used up my pro-rata-ed April bundle already :P

And then on Saturday evening we headed South, to Wembley Stadium for Skate Wars! On of The Trucker's friends was skating as a Rookie for Starship Troopers ... and one of the girls from Boot Camp is a Hellcat.

Okay, so Wembley Stadium isn't really an amazing venue ... but I guess it suited the purpose on Saturday night. It was pretty close to full. I was impressed by the organisation of the event generally, glad to see they had paramedics on stand-by who were quick to the ring the 4 or so times someone went down.

But, the sound was shit. We couldn't decipher a word being said into the microphone, which probably would've helped. It started with some weird parkour, which really just involved a few boys jumping over boxes and patting each other on the back a lot. There were 2 bouts of Roller Derby, made up of 30 Jams each (which should be approx 2mins each). It gets a bit long when it's such a fast moving game ... although they printed the rules for everyone, I have no idea how the scoring worked. But there was a giant scoreboard, which definitely made things more enjoyable :) The second half was also far more entertaining than the first. The girls really seemed to be getting into the swing of it and things got messier. It came down to a nail biting finish with the Starship Troopers, who were well in the lead at half time, coming down neck-and-neck with Mars Attacks in the last 5 jams, with the whole stadium cheering and shouting for their teams. Starship Troopers managed to take it (yay because that was the team I was supporting) 192 to 189.

There was some rubbish singing by who-knows-who in half time and after the bouts as well ... again, probably more down to the shit sound quality than anything else, I couldn't really say because I have no idea what they were singing.

I'm glad I went and saw a real Roller Derby bout. It was definitely more fun than the practice session we watched.

On Sunday morning The Trucker was supposed to have his first LMS cricket game ... early. But they cancelled because of all the rain we'd had. Yay. We headed out to get the grocery shopping done and had a lazy afternoon. He's got a bee in his bonnet and has been making Body Wash all weekend. So we got some containers for it (we have 4 varieties now ... 2 because he bought Mens Dove soap ... I think they make that stuff stink! And so there is one for me too. And one with soap I brought him back from Duty Free in Dubai ... which has solidified :P oops). I am not really sold on it just yet, but will reserve comment till I've used it a while.

We made pizza for dinner and watched The Impossible. OMG. It was hectic. It really made me think about how dreadful it must've been there in 2004. After so long we tend to forget ... But sheesh, seriously. Hectic, emotionally draining movie.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Press Here

So, I had an unusual day yesterday. Last week I got an invite to the 9th Annual Visa / FNB Bank Card Security Week Press Function. I know, right?

Yesterday morning, I headed to SLOW in the City, which looks like a really lovely venue. Although I've never been in any of the Airport Slow Lounges, so I don't really have anything to compare it to, but I really liked it :) I think if I were a freelancer or worked for myself it'd be quite a nice spot to get some work done ... aside from the fact that it's in Sandton so you'd have to sit thru traffic anyway :P

I arrived a little early and waited in a room with a gorgeous green wall :) That was lovely.

So back to the Function. It's a little daunting when people ask you which Media House you're with ... and all you can do is say "I have a blog" :P Yeah, I felt under qualified. But none the less I am super thrilled I got to go and hear about this. It was really fascinating. And a little terrifying. I guess I am really lucky I've never been the victim of Card Fraud (yet?). And I've found myself becoming so much more aware of it since yesterday morning!

So the good news is that Gross Fraud to Sales is decreasing ... But I guess as fast as the investigators are figuring out what the fraudsters are doing, they're doing something new. Apparently it's a whole industry that people specialise in, like you or me in our careers :p And boy are they good at it. We saw a video where 2 people applied a skimming device to an ATM in under 25seconds (and that was back in 2006!). I may never use an ATM again ;)

Apparently fraud in South Africa is a R900million industry ... that works out to about 6c of every R100 worth of transactions. And 52% of Fraud is now Card Not Present Fraud. Counterfeit Fraud comes in 2nd at 38%.

We saw sample skimming devices. They're tiny ... the size of a lighter or box of matches. And the top device can hold up to 5000 scanned card numbers on it. Apparently the big bosses distribute these to waiters and other people who have access to our cards and recruit them to scan the cards and offer to pay them per card number scanned. Another thing that terrified me was hearing they can rig them up next to card scanners as you go thru toll booths ... you just swipe your card thru both devices, not realising there are 2 next to each other. Yikes.

Oh, and the most common fraud over the World Cup was key reader usbs plugged into communal computers with free wifi in hotels and the open online banking computers available in bank branches. Scary.

We saw videos of people taking advantage of pensioners at ATMs. They grab the card out of the ATM as it is returned to the victim and run away. The natural human reaction is to chase after the person who has just stolen your card. But the guy standing in line waiting behind you at the ATM then then takes your money that gets returned after your card. Horrific. Apparently FNB is switching the order to try and stop this from happening. So you'll get your money out first before your card is returned.

Although, as far as I remember, it used to work this way but was switch to card-then-cash because people were taking their cash and walking away, leaving their card in the machines. So neither is an ideal solution really. Except being vigilant.

And really, that is what Bank Card Security Week (22 -26 April) is all about. Teaching people to be more vigilant. Because collaboration between each one of us and our bank is crucial to avoid card fraud. Some of the ways individuals can help themselves not to become the victims of Card Fraud are:
1. Using Verified by Visa (or Master SecureCodes) for online transactions
2. Protecting your Card
3. Ensuring no one else has your PIN (I realised I am guilty of ignoring this one for the first time in my life because The Trucker knows my pin now ... yes, it was, like I presume it is for everyone, for convenience)
4. Ensure your card doesn't leave your view ... this means at a restaurant or when paying for petrol or other places it could be skimmed.

We can also use the technology on offer to us to our advantage. I consider myself a fairly tech savvy person but even I don't regularly change my pin ... although I do try to change my online passwords every 2yrs or so (that should probably also be more often, but who can remember these things?). I am pretty aware of my online and daily limits (because I so often have to change them when I pay for holiday stuffs), but it's also such a simple way to limit your exposure to fraud. And apparently people don't manage this effectively. And switching on things like the free inContact service (which I have done). These are all small things each of us can take responsibility for, to protect ourselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed the function and found it fascinating and frightening.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Try This!

Damn, I forgot what I was going to write about ... it has been a decidedly average week. The Trucker played cricket on Monday and Tuesday evening. I had a quiet evening at home and went to SCM respectively.

The Gypsy Cat is getting a lot more friendly and I'd even hazzard to say that she's not so much of a Daddy's girl anymore either. I guess cause I'm home more and feed her more often, but I'll take it :) She's completely adorable when I'm in the bath ... she sits up on the toilet seat watching me or walks along the edge of the bath. She is so cute investigating bubbles from the bubble bath - haha!

Last night tho, I planned a mini date night for us ... My intention was to try out the spoils at the new Victory Park center. I heard that there was a great new schwarma spot to try and Joburg's answer to the Frozen Yoghurt frenzy that sounds like it has taken over Cape Town.

So off we headed, just after 7pm. Okay, so the center looks like it's been done up quite nicely (they have those parking spot availability indicator lights in the parking above the gym. But it still seems quite empty and quiet. But if you look past all that, you will not be disappointed by a schwarma at Tei Avon. Wow.

I was originally a little skeptical. I am used to Anat's style of point-and-click while building your own ... Here there was a menu. With so many options. It was a little overwhelming at first. I decided not to "make my own" and try the Mexican, but with chicken. The Trucker made his own (not literally obvs).

Omg, when mine arrived it was absolutely *huge*. I couldn't manage to eat it without a knife and fork. But so so tasty. Wow. It was seriously delish. The Trucker was impressed too. Yum. I think we may definitely have to go back.

Well we will have to go back to the center, if not for another schwarma, for the frozen yoghurt we didn't get to have :( I had planned on taking him to Filo Yoghurt for dessert, but they close at 7pm and we only finished dinner just after 8pm ...Oh well, another time then. It looks like a cute little shop and they had some yummy flavours from what I saw thru the windows :)

So instead we stopped at the new McDonalds one robot up on the way home to share a soft serve. But this is clearly a much fancier McDonalds (although to be fair I haven't been to any McDs in absolute ages!). And we spotted something new .... something called a CuppaCake. We had the caramel. It was sooo yummy. I almost didn't want to share - haha. But I am glad we did. May have to try another this weekend cause I read on the FB page that the "Limited Time Offer" may be ending on the 22nd.

Oh, in other exciting news, I collected my post and the box was finally full and I didn't miss out on any of my subscriptions :) 2 Fresh Living mags and 2 Lingerie Letters to keep me busy! So, my 3month try-it-out gift subscription that I bought myself has now ended ... I really like 2 of the 3 undies I've received (they can't all suit everyone ... the shiny gold does not suit my skin tone and the cut is a bit strange for me). Am seriously considering getting more! At R70-R75 for a pair of underwear and something new each month ...I am definitely of the practical underwear-shopping variety so this is far more interesting! Anyone wanna buy me another gift subscription for my birthday ;) Haha

Monday, April 15, 2013

Things Be Good

Well I had a lovely weekend, how about you?

It started with a bump. I got a call from Citroen (where my car was for it's lights) saying that my thermostat housing (or something) was leaking, did I want to fix it. A mere R3100. Cough. That's more than the light-fix I took it in for. Not right now thanks. Nothing is simple. I'll tell you how even less simple it is. Along with the rear LHS light,s they also replaced my LHS fog lamp. The car has been in the freaking garage since it arrived back home on Friday. I checked all the lights before I left home this morning. Awesome. All fixed up. The fog lamp indicator goes off on my drive to work this morning. What do you know, the RHS one isn't working now :P Screw it.

But the lovely part was that The Trucker went and collected my car while I was at work for me :) What a sweet boy! That meant I got to stay for after work drinks where we ended up playing Cards Against Humanity. What a laugh!

The other awesome Friday news is that I've stopped seeing my amazing nutritionist. Because I don't need to go anymore :) I mean I'm sure she'd love me to keep going but all she's doing is measuring me. Hardly seems worth the expense. My weight has been stable since the start of December. 4 months. And I've hit my goal Body Fat Percentage. I've lost about 9kgs and 7% body fat. The best news for me is how consistent the last 4 months have been. Because I'm not terribly strict on myself ... clearly :P Will probably go back in about August just to check if there is any Winter damage ;) But I'm feeling pretty damn happy with myself right now :)

We had a lazy Friday evening at home watching series. Oh, and we lost the Gypsy cat :P Well, I say lost, but really, she just figured out how to wander out of the confines of our garden. She has been so good till now, I didn't think she could get out yet. And I got into a bit of a panic. I guess that first time when you're not sure yet if they will figure out how to get back home .... and of course, she's a black cat, in the dark, next to a road. Freaking out! I know it's normal cat behaviour, but I've never had a cat before. But she came home :) She went straight for her food bowl too! Haha. Shew. Giant relief.

She is lovely tho, and so entertaining. She's a crazy little thing! Slept so nicely with us on the couch on Saturday afternoon (that's her cuddling with The Trucker in the photo) ... think she probably got a bit of a fright herself. I know I'm gonna have to let her go eventually. I will when she's about 6months and spayed and chipped. But not yet!

On Saturday I had a bit of a lazy morning catching up on the TV I fell asleep during watching on Friday night. Then we headed off to get our admin and grocery shopping out of the way. We tried the new Nino's at Northgate. Not worth writing home about ... although I did enjoy my Railway Latte.

We had a lazy afternoon and then headed to dinner with some of The Trucker's friends at Angelo's. It was quite a fun evening out :)

On Sunday morning we had a very slow and relaxed morning at home (the reason we'd got our grocery shopping out of the way on Saturday). We baked chocolate croissants for breakfast. The Trucker's sister found this place where you can get them frozen for super cheap and then just let them rise overnight and bake them yourself. They were pretty perfect for a lazy Sunday breakfast!

We headed to @zoosev's for lunch with some friends and had an awesome afternoon of laughing and eating and drinking. Wow. The food was sooo good!

And then it was home again, The Trucker did some admin while Gypsy "read" his newspaper (that means attacking it and spreading it out across the lounge floor!) and then he made us an awesome Halloumi and Chorizo pasta for dinner and that was my weekend.

It was pretty freaking perfect. But, I won't lie, I am counting down the days till my birthday when we head to Kruger for an extra long weekend :D Life is good.

Friday, April 12, 2013

So Much Eating

So on Wednesday afternoon I dropped my car off at Citroen ... to have those rear lights looked into. Should be getting it back this afternoon ... It's costing less than I thought, thank goodness. Still, a dent nonetheless. They have to replace the whole unit. Apparently it melted. That's what you get for driving a 5+yr old car, wear and tear. Fair enough. And In the meantime I get to use The Trucker's GTI :)

I was craving Lucky Moo for dinner. But they are far far away ... so instead we browsed thru some of my recipe books and settled on Sarah Britten's Peanut Sesame Chicken. I knew we'd had it before ... but until I searched the blog, I didn't realise when. The good news is it wasn't nearly as momentous a dinner :) Things here are still all washed in rose-tinted colours and love and heart shaped bubbles <3 It was delish.

The Trucker tried to make a rice pudding ... I prefer sago, honestly, but I did have a taste. Apparently he used the wrong rice. I'm still not convinced about rice as dessert ... or rice in general, to be honest. But he seemed to enjoy it.

Yesterday I went for dinner with @Toxic_Mouse's ex girlf. Has been ages, but it was so lovely to catch up :) We had dinner at Coobs ... which was on my Date Night list. And I will definitely be going again sometime with The Trucker. What a great little spot! And finally somewhere that has parking in Parkhurst (at the back of the Town Square centre)! I almost went with 2 starters just for the variety, but in the end settled on one of their specials, the Duck Pot Pie with honey-glazed veggies. So yummy! We shared their Churros for dessert. What a great evening.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


So I finally made my Bakewell Tart. The Trucker collected his blender and a few more eggs from his sister's place. So, if I haven't already told you the story, here it is. I was baking a childhood memory here.

One of my favourite things as a kid was Chinese Tart which my gran used to buy from the local homebakes. I haven't seen or had it in years (probably at least 20!). I've tried to figure out a recipe or the real name online before ... but you try googling Chinese Tart :P Anyway, so earlier this year I started on the mission again. Starting with Almond Tart. Unfortunately I thought it was made with Marzipan which threw my search off for a while, until I tried Iced Almond Tart. Eventually I found the Bakewell Tart recipe. The picture matched my memory of the Chinese Tart.

And so, I made it on Monday evening. Quite late, and with plenty of drama. I am not one of those people who finds cooking (and especially baking) calming. In fact I find it terribly stressful. I'm a perfectionist and very self-deprecating when it comes to my cooking and baking expectations of myself. Truth be told the food has always generally turned out okay. But I usually threaten to throw it all out at least once before it's done (more with baking than cooking, honestly). And so Monday evening went.

The Tart came out of the oven to cool just before bedtime. So I made the icing on Tuesday before Boot Camp. The flavour is how I remember, but the presentation was lacking. I made it on a baking tray so when the time came to ice it, all the icing pooled off the sides of the tart :P Oh well.

I will try to make it again in a foil container ... I have enough now to ease my craving for a while ;) Haha.

On Tuesday I went to SCM Dinner. Yay. It has been ages and so nice to see everyone again. And as you can see, Gypsy can now climb up into our bathroom basin. She is too cute :D

Monday, April 08, 2013

For a Change

Wow, we had a really very super quiet unlike us weekend. Seriously. But I guess they are needed every so often. And this wasn't done out of need ... but we enjoyed it anyway :)

On Friday I stayed a little later at work for drinks. The drama drama of last week was that I sorta accidentally got myself a job offer. By accidentally I mean I wasn't specifically looking ... but the company where a friend of mine works was looking for someone with my exact skills. So I thought, I've almost been here 5 years now, what's the harm in seeing what else is out there. I won't lie in the last year have definitely fluctuated about staying. So I sent thru my CV and went for an interview. Haven't done one of those in a very long time, but I guess I knocked their socks off because they pretty much told me I'd be getting an offer as I left that day. It took a while to arrive, because of the long Easter weekend, but I got in on Wednesday afternoon and had until Friday to respond.

I took it to my friends, who employ me. They were a little surprised to say the least. But they made me an offer to stay that I accepted (they matched the salary increase and promised to throw in a little more leave since that is probably my most attractive perk in a job and some extra responsibility too). It was a stressful week last week. But I'm feeling calm again today :) I think consciously deciding to stay has me looking for and reminding myself of the positives here ... writing down the pros and cons last week helped me a lot with that too. Onwards!

I picked up my passport with my 10year American Visa last week too. Big smiles :)

On Friday evening The Trucker made us an experimental dinner. Giant potato rostis with a topping of cheese, feta, cherry tomatoes, bacon and avo. It was delish and soooo filling. On Saturday morning we were up early to hit Dischem and buy more lights for my car. Can you believe last week all my LHS rear lights stopped working. Well it turns out the lights work just fine when you swap them over to the RHS. The Trucker took them all apart and checked the fuses .... no joy. Guess I'll be phoning Citroen a little later. Sigh.

We had a relaxing afternoon and went for a walk at Golden Harvest. And then headed to Cedar Square for sushi with @Toxic_Mouse and his girlf.

On Sunday morning we had a relaxing morning at home. The Trucker grabbed some croissants for breakfast from Doppio and came home to read the paper while I read my Kindle in the sunshine :)

Then, as usual, we headed off to do our weekly grocery shop. But we decided to do some investigation ... it's getting very expensive, but to be far we shop mostly at Woolies and Pick n Pay out of convenience. So we thought let's try some alternatives and price check.

Then short story is that the minimal savings we could find on a few items here and there did not outweigh the petrol we would spend driving to the alternatives.

The long story is we started at Randburg Wholesale Market. Yes, I'm a snob, I like my beautifully packaged, ripe and ready to eat Woolies fruit and veg. But we bought a few items here. The lettuce had the biggest saving, but we totally over paid for a bag of granny-smith apples. We also stopped into the Cheese Deli and Butchery to price items. The problem in, not a lot of places have low-fat stuff ...

Then we headed all the way to Food Lovers Market (Fruit and Veg City) in Weltevreden Park. We didn't end up buying a single item for our weekly shop here aside from bananas, which were significantly cheaper than Woolies or PnP. Their strawberries were also much cheaper, but didn't look like they were great quality, I saw a lot of bruising. There were a few other items that were cheaper at FLM, others were almost exactly the same or a R1 or 2 different from Woolies, not justifying the inconvenience of the drive, if you ask me. Also, I hate when they price bulk items down ...  I don't need double the number of something, it just goes off. #Sigh

So after all that we ended up right back at Woolies and PnP. I'm glad we spent the time doing this. At least now we know.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing. I was supposed to do some baking (Bakewell Tart) but realised after buying everything else that we were now an egg short (after our egg mayo sarmies for lunch) and I have no way of turning my almonds into ground almonds ... I really must get myself a blender type thing soon! To be honest, I had decided to and then The Trucker & I got back together and planned to move in together and I figured it was worth waiting to see what we still needed after we combined our kitchens ... but that still hasn't happened.

Will get that birthday list up soon then ;) Haha.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Thankfully Short Week

It's been a thankfully short week. I had dinner at Ghazal's (again, but at least another branch) with @jarredcinman. Was awesome to see him and catch up again :)

On Wednesday, The Trucker came home from his trip to Cape Town - YAY! I think I miss him more now that we live together and I'm used to seeing him all day. While I do miss the cuddles and kisses, it's more the having someone to bounce things in your head off and just a sense of security and stability that he provides. Wow. You know you don't even realise you feel those things sometimes and they just sneak up on you. I am a lucky girl <3

But he had to go to work about 15mins after he arrived home and came home a while later. Poor guy. He was out again last night dealing with some other work issues, at least that could be done over dinner with @Toxic_Mouse. Still, I feel like I have barely seen him.

There is other stuff afoot. Job stuff. So I have had a bit of a stressful week ... guess that is why I particularly noticed The Trucker's absence in the way that I did.

Oh, and there is other good news :) My Passport is ready for collection with my American Visa inside! Yay. Dunno if I'll be able to collect it today tho, might have to wait till Monday. And then we start all over again for our Bermuda visa ... which I found out is actually a UK visa, so another giant expensive (over R1000 !) schlep. Oh well.

What else ...? Can't think of anything.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass

Renowned anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton has spent his career surrounded by death at the Body Farm. Now he's being called upon to help solve a baffling puzzle in a remote mountain community. The mummified corpse of a young woman dead for thirty years has been discovered in a cave, the body bizarrely preserved and transformed by the environment's unique chemistry. But Brockton's investigation is threatening to open old wounds among an insular people who won't forget or forgive. And a long-buried secret prematurely exposed could inflame Brockton's own guilt—and the dangerous hostility of bitter enemies determined to see him fail . . . by any means necessary. 

 Raced thru this book. Love the Body Farm series and definitely enjoyed this. Look forward to reading more of them :)

* This book is part of the Body Farm series: Carved in Bone (2006), Flesh and Bone (2007), The Devil's Bones (2008), Bones of Betrayal (2009), The Bone Thief (2010), The Bone Yard (2011), ~Madonna and Corpse (2012), The Inquisitor's Key (2012)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Un-busy Easter

Mkay so I had an unusually un-busy long Easter weekend. As I said before, we've been away quite a bit lately and The Trucker was flying down to Cape Town on Sunday so we didn't go away. And in fact didn't do much at all!

It is actually even too long ago to try to remember what we did at all. We did have his sister and niece over for breakfast (french toast!) on Saturday morning. And that was quite nice. Although it was super hard listening to her saying what she was gonna change around my house and could she cut the plants back and how she couldn't wait to use my fire place when she moved in. Eep. Usually you don't have to deal with hearing or knowing about those things. I've never rented out *my home* before ... There is no emotional connection to a rental property usually. I think this is gonna be harder than I thought. But then again maybe once I can start picturing where The Trucker and I will be living, the place that will be "ours", it'll all be different.

We had great plans for doing something on Saturday afternoon, but instead we just got our lazy on - haha. We did go out for dinner, to Cafe Mexicho with DJMike and his wife. I was craving Chili Poppers and Margarita's :) And we hadn't been in ages. It was delish!

On Sunday we headed off to the new Fourways Farmers Market. What a great setting :) Although I was a little disappointment that the coffee stall only offers coffee and no hot chocolate or anything ... I coulda done with a warm beverage to start. It was quite quiet ... being Easter Sunday, I presume. But we took a wander past all the stalls. There was quite a few familiar things (from Neighbourgoods Market). We had pancakes for breakfast, bought some bits and pieces and then ended off our morning with a Decadent Belgium Waffle. Shew. Was a great way to spend a Sunday morning :)

After that The Trucker packed and headed to the airport. He'll be back on Wednesday. I lazed about till @bronwyngale and @ironyandgum came over for a Games evening. We drank Champagne, ordered Pizza and played Cards Against Humanity. Needless to say it was a very amusing evening.

On Monday morning, while The Trucker was at his uncle's wedding, @louisabouwer was supposed to bring Nicola over to meet Gypsy. Sadly she wasn't feeling well so we took a rain check and I went grocery shopping instead - not nearly as much fun! Haha. Although I did (finally) buy myself a pair of gumboots! I have been looking for ages because I wanted red ones ... but plan red, not red with ridiculous turquoise features :P It's been harder than you think! So anyway, I saw these silver ones at Woolies last week and decided this morning they'd do just fine (since I still have not seen any red ones I like). Am sure they'll come in super handy at Oppikoppi this year :)

In the afternoon I headed over to @nadia_ass' to visit her and meet her tiny little almost-month-old boy Aaron. OMG He is too adorable. Had a lovely time catching up with her.

When I made plans with her, I was planning on picking up some Good Luck Club take-out on my way home for dinner, but they were sadly closed. Instead I went home and had a lazy evening in front of the TV and chatting on the phone with The Trucker. Damn, I adore that boy <3

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