Friday, January 31, 2014

Happiness is in all the little things

Well, it's been a very quiet week over here ... Today I wish I could be working from home / still in bed. It's calmed down a touch now, but I woke up to torrential rain this morning. Lovely (for me, cause I was safe inside a warm dry house). On days like today I am very grateful for my wellingtons and umbrella!

I hope the weather is like this on Sunday morning when I can doze lazily to the sound of the rain and stay in bed for as long as I like! Haha.

So yes, a *very* uneventful week for me. In fact I haven't done a single social thing. I made it to Boot Camp twice this week AND The Trucker and I did our neighbourhood walk on Wednesday too. Such a nice way to get some exercise and spend some time chatting away from other distractions (except for, obviously, trying to breathe - haha).

The Trucker made us some delish meals for dinner and I spent most of my free time at home trying to get the bunnies to accept being in the same hutch. Still nope :( The poor boy, he seems so enthusiastic and to so want love, but Lily is just being a big meanie. Oh well, here's hoping they'll get there soon ... I know how much she loved cuddling up with Rex, so I don't understand why she is being so anti. But who can guess at the minds of animals ...

Oh, and in other good news, the Shellac on my nails is still successfully stuck fast. So, I think this is a better option for me than the Gellish (which was off within less than a week both times I tried it ... or the place I had it done just wasn't very good :P).

What else? We are still waiting for our house to go to Deeds office / lodge, but as soon as it does we can get those renovations started. We paid the deposit for our kitchen and bedroom cupboards this week, so they should be ready for collection by the end of next week. Big smiles.

And there is loads of fun stuff coming up! I booked tickets for The Trucker & I for Rocky Horror. Like, my all time favourite show, ever. Although, I fear, that nothing will ever live up to Tim Curry or Brendan van Rhyn. And I'm still waiting for Da Vinci: The Genius to announce it's Joburg dates (I have it on good authority that it will be coming here!).

And then yesterday, I found out about the upcoming Days of the Dinosaurs coming to Joburg & Cape Town between June - August. Definitely going to that!

Oh yes, the other highlight of my week was that in December, I decided to treat my gran to more surprises during the year. She apparently loves getting post / deliveries (doesn't everyone when it's not a bill?) and rarely does (although The Peeb has taken to writing her letters, even tho she lives in the same city, which I think is lovely). She's going to be 90 this year, really what is the point of waiting for birthdays or xmas to give her a gift, who knows if she'll make the next one, you know?

So since I moved to Joburg, I have been forcing the family to take a family photo every xmas (or whenever we are all together, really) and the one we took at this year's xmas eve dinner was one of the best! So I ordered her a canvas print of it from Print Wild. Shew, their service is amazing. Her picture was delivered on Wednesday and I gather she loved the surprise :) Can't wait to go see how it came out for myself in April!

Monday, January 27, 2014


Shew, what a lovely weekend. I actually feel quite refreshed this morning. Although I am typing it from the Honda Service lounge, where they have wifi! Finally. Am very happy to have got my car back on Friday after it's hail damage repair ... and now it's in for a service. After this, it better just function as normal for at least another year o_0 Haha.

So, the weekend. First a few things I forgot last week ... I had my 6 month check-up after my operation. All good and scars are healing well :) Also, I started taking the vitamins recommended by my gynae (part of Project Get Pregnant 2014) which have Folic Acid. Eep, getting real here folks!

Shew, before I'd even finished typing those 2 paragraphs, my driver took me to work. I can not stress just how much more impressed I am with Honda's service over my previous experience with Citroen. Free Wifi in there waiting lounge and a personal driver who will leave when I'm ready, not wait till 8am (min) and take 5 or 6 people to different places. And not only that, they will be collecting me later too! I mean, these are people who understand that me not having a car all day because you're servicing it, means it's damn difficult to get back to wherever to collect it too! Colour me impressed.

Anyhoo, the weekend. We had dinner with DJMike and his wife on Friday night. Tried a new Mexican spot. I'd had Mama Mexicana on my To Try list for a while now ... so I'm glad the opportunity finally came up. They were a bit nervous about going into town, so it was nice to introduce them to the Maboneng Precinct (a little).

So, I'd heard that Mama Mexicana was also supposed to be "authentic" mexican cuisine. But that's not how I'd describe it. They don't even have margaritas on the menu! But the food was delish and very very well priced (Mains are like R40 - R50!) But, when they arrive you may think you probably should've ordered more than one ... we thought so. But we decided to see how we felt after before we ordered 2nds, and we didn't end up needing them. Kinda gets a thumbs up from me for not serving oversized American-style portions that people don't need but will end up eating anyway. We started with their chili poppers. Not the normal ones, they looked kinda like spring-rolls? But they tasted yummy nonetheless. For mains I had their Chicken Quesadilla. Very tasty, I liked it. But I definitely had order envy because DJMike's wife ordered the Big Mama Bowl (Bowl of chili with minced beef, served with cornbread). Yip, I'd definitely have that next time instead. Reminded me of my Ostrich Chili Soup, actually. The Trucker had the bacon nacho's. Never enough guacamole or sour cream ...

Anyway, the experience was good, but it fails solidly between Cafe Mexicho and Mexican Fresh for me ... so I doubt I'd end up going all the way back there unless someone else arranged / invited me. Cafe Mexicho is still in the top spot as my Best Joburg Mexican Restaurant.

On Saturday we were up early in the quest for our new kitchen. We have the go-ahead to start on renovations as soon as the lawyers lodge with the Deeds Office. Which I am expecting anytime from Thursday! We started with Timbercity in Strydom Park (because our next option was H&S Timbers in Benoni!) and we should be getting a final quote today. I think we'll probably go with them. We've picked our final colours (harder than you might think!). Then we went to actually buy the tiles (we'd found out that the ones we picked were only in stock at the Stydom Park and Southgate CTM o_0) They are now waiting patiently in our garage! So exciting.

We went to get a price estimate for our (bedroom) carpets and ended up changing our mind about the wood flooring colour for the lounge and got pricing for that too (same as the previous one we'd picked luckily).

Then we were exhausted and headed home. It was a pretty uneventful afternoon. Although when it cooled I tried a new technique for bonding the bunnies, clearly driving wasn't working for them. They have been getting better, being allowed out a little together each day, till Lily gets too irritating chasing Smudge.

We went the Neutral Territory route and put them in the alleyway down the side of our house ... which usually they can't get to. I sat with them and kept an eye on them. Eventually Lily was fine with the little guy. So we let them into the garden together. All good.

But I still was too nervous to put them in the hutch together when we headed out for dinner so we separated them again. Which wasn't a great idea ... when we let them into the garden together again on Sunday morning, Lily was back to chasing and nipping him. So I sat with them in the alley again. Vast improvement. She let him groom her! Back into the garden for a bit and then I tried them in the same hutch for a bit. She did not handle it well. Although she would happily eat rose petals I gave them right next to him! So I separated them again before I went out.

On Sunday afternoon we put them in the alley again till they were friendly and then let them run around the garden for a while before trying them back in the new hutch again. They were much better than before. She was still nipping him a little, but he was standing his own ground. But still, we separated them before we headed out for dinner again.

I see a whole week of evenings of trying them little more and a little more ... I think part of the problem may be that the new hutch has an easily blocked entrance to the 2nd level which Lily sits in front of, guarding. And nips him as he tries to run up past her to the food and water. They'll get there ... but we are so much cuter and my heart was positively melting seeing them be friendly together this weekend!

On Saturday evening we used another of our The Entertainer vouchers and went to Angelo's Kitchen for dinner. We shared a very nice Melanzane and then each had a pizza for dinner. I had their Vincenzo's: Bacon. Chicken strips, danish feta, pumpkin seeds and avocado. It was yummy.

When we got home, we watched About Time. It has been a while since both The Trucker & I enjoyed a movie and this hit the spot! It's light and funny with some real laugh out loud moments. Seriously, I think you should watch this one :)

On Sunday, The Trucker headed to Cricket and I headed to Aura Skincare Clinic in Parkhurst with @bronwyngale for a pamper morning to make use of a few more of my The Entertainer vouchers! This book is amazeballs. Not only am I trying places I'd never heard of, I am now on a mission to spoil myself & a girl friend every month with a mani/pedi/combo ... so much better than meeting for coffee - haha! It's actually so important and if I don't make the effort, I forget completely for years at a time!

It was superb. Seriously. We each had a Champagne Pedicure (yip, it comes with a glass of champagne! Regular price: R300) and a Shellac Manicure (R250). I am keen to see how the Shellac works out after my dismal Gellish experience. Plus, we got to sit in fabulous massage chairs the whole time (I did ask The Trucker if I could have one for the lounge ... he said no :( Haha). And with the vouchers, the whole day cost us each only R275. OMG how freaking cool is that. The book only cost R295 (cause Daddio got an early-bird discount, definitely already used more than his money's worth and it's not even February yet!). We chatted and caught up and I left feeling fabulously relaxed with pretty finger and toe nails. Best way to spend a Sunday!

On Sunday evening, The Trucker had a craving for sushi and The Mariner has a half-price sushi Sunday special. Cheap meals all round here this weekend - haha.

It was a superb weekend.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Focusing on the Fact that it's Friday

Ah, finally Friday. I wont lie I'm kinda living for the weekends at the moment. Not ideal, I know. How has this week been? Well work-wise it has marginally improve all the way up to merely "okay". Which, in my books, is a plus because at least it has improved. That said I still got full of the panics last night at bedtime.

I have no idea really what I'm freaking out about. There are no deadlines or stress from that side, it's more of an emotional thing. #sigh Am trying kinesiology next week (Mom goes and The Peeb just went to the same lady ... so I figured it's worth a try). I don't want to go to a psychologist to chat about it, in my experience it doesn't "solve" problems. I don't really have a problem talking about things, I currently have a problem fixing them. Anyway, we'll see ...

Update: Just read this article one of my FB friends posted "How To Deal When People Are Driving You Nuts". And it really spoke to me. That's exactly what I'm looking for. However I can't bear yoga. I am not bendy and I don't really "get" it. But aside from the "solve it with yoga" part, it really resonated with me. Anybody got this figured out, without yoga?

The rest of life is good tho :) At least there is that. Nothing ever all goes right at one time, don't they say? I went to dinner with @WhizBangLouLou on Tuesday evening at Assaggi (yay, used another of my The Entertainer vouchers). Was awesome to catch up. And the food was good. Not quite Cafe-del-Sol-home-made-pasta-amazing tho. Sadly, I didn't get to have the zuchini frites again, and I remember that those were super yummy! I had a home made fettuccine with bacon/pancetta amatriciana sauce.

On Wednesday The Trucker and I went to the lawyers to sign the final docs for the bond and transfer! Eep. They reckon transfer will go thru 10 - 15 February. We tried to arrange to start our renovations on 01 Feb, but we've been told we have to wait till it gets lodged as things could still go wrong, but after that it's just a matter of time.

The Trucker has taken off February to manage our renovations and some other projects of his own. So on Saturday we're having another run around morning, getting tile samples. We've picked the one for the bathroom, but since we are now going with Rustenburg Granite in the kitchen due to pricing (crap granite is expensive!!), I am re-thinking the colours ... since, I think Rustenburg granite doesn't match with ANYTHING ?!? Hahahaha.

I was trying to find simple colour ideas online and the trend definitely seems to be lighter counter tops. So now I want a lighter floor tile cause I think they will conflict too much. I am also terrified ... how do you have any idea what a whole kitchen of the colours you can only see in tiny little squares will end up looking?! Here's throwing caution to the wind and hoping for the best o_0

So yes, there will be more tile and cupboard scouting coming up this weekend.

I think other stuff has happened this week, but I can't really think of what. I'm in a bit of a keep-your-head-down and stay-in-a-bubble sort of mood these days.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Captive by Allan Hall

22 August 2002: 21-year-old Michelle Knight disappears walking home.

21 April 2003: Amanda Berry goes missing the day before her seventeenth birthday.

2 April 2004: 14-year-old Gina DeJesus fails to come home from school.

For over a decade these girls remained undetected in a house just three miles from the block where they all went missing, held captive by a terrifying sexual predator. Tortured, starved and raped, kept in chains, Captive reveals the dark obsessions that drove Ariel Castro to kidnap and enslave his innocent victims.

Based on exclusive interviews with witnesses, psychologists, family and police, this is an unflinching record of a truly shocking crime in a very ordinary neighbourhood. Allan Hall was a New York correspondent for ten years, first for the Sun and later for the Daily Mirror. He has spent the last decade covering German-speaking Europe for newspapers including The Times and the Mail on Sunday.

He is the author of two previous books, Monster, an investigation into the life and crimes of Josef Fritzl and Girl in the Cellar: The Natascha Kampusch Story. He lives and works in Berlin.

I was quite keen to read this. I remember hearing about it when the story broke, mostly I just remember the Charles Ramsey You Tube video. I don't remember hearing anything more about it really. I kinda assumed the case was continuing (you know how long some of these things can take). But then I saw the book. I didn't think there could be a book before the case was closed.

And so, right in the last few pages, I discovered that Castro had actually killed himself.

I was also keen to read it since I read I Choose To Live. And, I'm very curious now to also read the Josef Fritzl book. The fact that there are people like this absolutely blows my mind. I just can't comprehend how someone could do this to other people. It is completely horrifying and surreal.

The style of writing is a bit weird since he hadn't spoken to any of the girls when he wrote this. There is a lot of back and forth and bits of repeating. It did sometimes feel like it was all based on the peripheral evidence (which it was, but somehow that pops you out of "story-mode"). But, that said, it is filled with facts and details and history that give you a very clear picture of what happened.

It is frightening. Those poor girls. Hug your sons and daughters extra tight tonight.

* This is one of my Featured Book Reviews, sponsored by Penguin Books.
Read more here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting By

#Sigh it's Monday. I'm not gonna lie, I've been feeling that tummy-churning anxious anticipation of Monday all weekend. Yup something is definitely off with me right now on the work front. Freaking out and panicking and worrying about work on a Saturday night when you go to bed (of course it only happens then!) and feeling ill like you might throw up. Not ideal. Not really sure what or if there's a solution to this, I'm just trying to take each day as it comes.

And focusing on all the other good bits. My new little bunny-boy who has had great fun with free reign in the garden (still supervised). Gypsy has adjusted to him much quicker than Lily. Lily is still not happy with him :( Gypsy is chasing him a bit more, but he's quick. But he's also too little to really be very afraid of her, so sometimes he just runs right up to her and sniffs her and she gets a bit of a fright. Haha. It really is adorable <3

The other awesome news I'm focusing on right now is April Holidays! Yeah baby. I put my leave in already :) So, in light of the new cars and new house (hoping to sign the documents this week??) and the renovations we'll be doing there in Feb, we decided to do a Local Road Trip over April, instead of our intention of going to Australia & New Zealand (awe :( ).

And we were gonna go for a whole 3 weeks (take 11 days leave get 3 weeks off!) but it felt like too long to be away from the animals and also started to get a little expensive. So I trimmed it down and we have an awesome itinerary planned (you'll have to wait for that!) but the highlights for me include: Old Mac Daddy Luxury Trailer Park (which custom trailer would you choose to stay in?), Farm 215, Addo Elephant Park, Knysna Treehouses, Cape Agulhas and KolKol Mountain Lodge (all places I've never been!). To say I am looking forward to it would be an understatement. We are also going to try taking the Trans Karoo Express (Shosholoza Meyl) to Cape Town, instead of flying.

So yeah, that's coming up, but I also had a pretty good weekend. On Friday evening we used the first of our The Entertainer vouchers and took The Trucker's 2nd parents to The Squire's Loft for dinner. Shew, Parkhurst was pumping. We got a table outside, thank goodness with the heat, and ordered 2 starters to share: Zuchini Fries (yum!) and the Camembert stuffed with Figs (not at all gooey, which is what I was expecting).

For mains, 3 of us all had the same! We couldn't resist their Biltong & Avo signature steak (and this, from me, who *never* orders steak out!). And Ma ordered the Kingklip. Unfortunately she sent it back as it wasn't correctly cooked, and barely touched it even after it came back (we'd already finished eating and she still wasn't very happy with it). They handled it fantastically and the manager came over and comped her meal. It isn't ideal when you have a bad dish, but at least when it is handled professionally, it doesn't put a damper on your whole evening :)

The Trucker had to have dessert and I, of course, had a taste. He had their Chocolate Duette and it was delish!

On Saturday we trekked out to Pretoria to visit Cupboard Warehouse to have a look at their finishes and colours and get a proper quote. Shewee ... even a DIY Kitchen is gonna cost a fortune o_0 Well, actually, the truth is it's not the kitchen so much as the cupboard for the 3 bedrooms!! Yoh. Anyhoo, the search continues.

It was absolutely boiling on Saturday so after that we had a very relaxed afternoon at home, trying not to melt and to keep the bunnies as cool as possible (we had ice blocks in their water bowls, ice bricks in the hutches near to where they were lying and the fan outside to move the air around). Later, when it was cooler, we took them for another drive ... still no luck :(

Toxic Mouse and his girlf came over for a braai which was cool. And then on Sunday morning I woke up to the awesome sound of rain! Luckily (for The Trucker) it wasn't too much rain since he had a cricket game. Although I thought it was the perfect weather for lazing in bed or in front of the TV. So we slept late (later than we should've he had 15mins to get ready!).

I did our grocery shopping and then headed to @Thunderkitty6's to visit her newborn boy (he's not even 2 weeks old!). Shew, feeling a little broody now! He is so tiny and so lovely. It was a fab way to spend a Sunday afternoon, friends, champagne and an adorable newborn baby boy.

And that was my weekend.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Just Your Average Week

Hmmm, it hasn't been a very eventful week. Back to Boot Camp. Although I did skip last night's class, damn it has been freaking hot here in Jozi. Instead I went to actual real gym with The Trucker and ended with a swim. Much better to be in air-conditioning and a swimming pool, I reckon. So at least I didn't skip and do nothing, that make me feel better :) It's actually nice going to gym with him, so I think if I have to skip Boot Camp again for an excuse like weather (usually rain), this is a much better option.

I went to SCM on Tuesday. Shew there is a whole lot of new faces! And The Trucker started his Photography Course (my xmas gift to him).

On Wednesday was a friend of The Trucker's birthday so we ended up at The Mariner again. I'm glad I'd been before because I'm not sure I'd be that keen to go back after the experience. That said, we were a large group (9 adults plus a kiddie) and they were busier than the last time I was there too. But we only got our food around 9. I hate eating so late :(

This time I tried their 12 Prince Prawns (R155, although I did want sushi, I thought I should try something else on the menu). I wouldn't have it again, but that is personal choice, not because there was anything wrong with them at all. The prawns themselves were good, I just prefer mine lathered in garlic butter (they serve it with a more mayo-type sauce). I think next time I'm going to have to try the Prawn and Monkfish curry (I was debating it, but went with the prawn platter instead).

Work is not good at the moment, but I'm taking steps to address this. I think I might like to try going on an Anger Management course or something. Where does one go when one's tolerance levels are zero in an attempt to get them back up to a manageable level? Can you learn to have better tolerance? I would LOVE to! So yeah, any suggestions? Leave me a comment, please.

I adore getting home to the animals at the moment, Smudge is too adorable. I think things with him & Lily will be better after we try another Bonding Drive. She is still occasionally trying to nip him thru the bars, but will often just lie near him, or ignore him altogether. Last night we let him have some run around time in the garden, alone, while Lily was still in her cage and Gypsy was inside. The little guy loved it. It was so fabulous to watch him spontaneously jump a foot in the air out of joy :) Exploring, smelling, running. I can't wait till he can be out permanently!

The hutch swapping is also going better. Lily has adjusted to the new hutch now. Which is also why I think bonding will go easier. Anyhoo.

I am also now in full holiday planning mode :) Looks like the April Road Trip will go ahead, now to just start making bookings! Eep. Coordinating things can be tricky, I expect. We'll see. Got some awesome places planned :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hello Smudge!

Well, I can't deny I had an amazing little weekend. But my Monday blues are certainly hiding it at the moment :(

On Friday evening we headed to Picolino's for dinner with a few of The Trucker's friends. It was an early evening, I think, in part, because he has decided not to drink any alcohol this month. And he didn't. I was quite impressed. I figured he might let himself have one here or there socially. It's all part of the detox get-fit challenge he's set himself recently. But anyway, yum: pizza for dinner! Wooo.

We had quite a lazy Saturday morning, including scrambled eggs for breakfast at home. And then we headed out, first so he could go do some admin and then to collect Lily's new hutch. I was a bit nervous for this ... what if they got it wrong again o_0

But I needn't have worried there it was and it is perfect. Bigger than you realise, actually. But awesome. The most important thing is that The Trucker is very happy with it, he hates the current hutch. Haha.

Anyway, while we were there waiting for their driver (so he could follow us home), we accidentally bought a new little bunny. Squeal. I'll admit the initial excitement has worn off and I am now acutely reminded of the fear and dread and what have we done that I felt when we first bought Coal. Integration and bonding are not going very well. I think Lily has been a little overwhelmed by a new hutch and a new baby in the house! She really isn't impressed with the new hutch, but since they haven't bonded yet, she's still getting to alternate nights in her old hutch. So yesterday she barely left it. Poor old girl. I forget she's 5 now ...

Anyway, our new little guy has a name now too: Smudge. And he is gorgeous. A little nervous after we tried bonding them on Sunday by taking them for a 90min drive in the catbox. It seemed to be going so well. So we tried them in the same hutch. Nope. Lily attacked him a few times before I could get her out of there ... #sigh So sad to watch.

The rest of Saturday afternoon was pretty lazy. Literally The Trucker slept while I sat outside keeping an eye on our menagerie and reading my book in the shade. It was lovely. Later we braaied and played 30 seconds (sort of, we just asked each other the cards, no time limit, no board, no winners or losers). It was such a lovely evening!

On Sunday we headed off on the bonding drive early, because it was back to cricket for The Trucker. Once I'd separated the bundles again, I headed out to get the grocery shopping done, did a bunch of house admin and tried out something new for dinner.

I'd been looking last week for low-fat, low-carb slow cooker meals. It's easy in Summer, when it's hot and eating salad is really actually all you want. But Winter. That's our kryptonite. So I wanted to find food that would feel like comfort food, warm and filling, but that didn't kill our diet. Because, let's face it, Winter is when all you really want is pasta ;) And last year, that coupled with my op plus all our eating in America did us no favours.

I found a recipe for Low Fat, Low Carb Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken which I decided to try because I was sort of fascinated by the Cauli-rice. It's quite cool because I could easily convert the measurements to metric and adjust the portions to cook on their site. And, I won't lie, the Cauli-rice was super easy to make and came out really nicely. A bit like couscous, I'd say. I reckon we'll be making that again!

But this wasn't the right recipe for it at all. Because I paired down the recipe, I built a 3-layer tower of my chicken in the middle of the slow cooker. Which was fine, but there was no real-sauce to speak of that would require the "rice". I reckon the chicken dish would've paired quite easily on it's own with a salad.

Still, aside from being a little dry, the chicken was tasty because the sauce was delish! I couldn't find salsa verde anywhere and it sounded like a lot of effort and chopping and ingredients to make from scratch. So I just swapped that out with some Woolies Coriander, Chili & Lime pesto.

So, yeah, not perfect, but it's a start :)

Aside from that, I'm really struggling with 2014, for no good reason. Generally I'm fine. But when it comes to work, I have a big black cloud hanging over my head that I can't explain. I was chatting to someone else about this last week. I think because when you come back in a new year, you are conditioned to expect a change, but this year (more than most) it really is just same old, same old (perhaps because last year ended so badly chaos-at-work-wise). Think about it. You spend 12 years of your life at school and who knows how many more at Varsity and every year when you start, there is new stationery, new books, new classes, new teachers. Sometimes a new school and new uniform too. We spent our whole lives being trained to expect a change to signify the transition of one year to the next. It's just not like that at work.

And for some reason it's getting me down. Drudgery. That's how I feel. I feel demotivated by just sitting here churning thru more of the same. I don't know how to snap out of this. Real life (ie. life outside of work) is going swimmingly. Serious bliss happening over here. How could it not be with an adorable new teeny bunny. OMG my heart melts. I can't wait for them to bond because it will be awesome! Am a leetle worried about Gypsy and Smudge tho, but we'll get there ...

Anyway, and on top of that there are other great Real Life things afoot for 2014. But yeah, still. The thought of coming into the office and dealing with more of the same, it is getting me down :(

Oh, in more of that Real Life fun stuff happening, I've booked and paid for a Lorraine Loots 2014 Paintings for Ants picture. I loved watching them daily last year, but by the time I realised you could request one or even buy one, it was too late and not much was still available. This year I got in early! Haha. I've booked my birthday and this year her whole year is dedicated to Cape Town as a theme. I've requested a painting of the view from our beach cottage <3 I am so excited!

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's Alright to be Back

Yoh. I am just as surprised at you that Friday finally decided to arrive. It has felt like a very long week. And thrown into the mix I have struggled to fall asleep every night this week :( I am generally fine during the day, although yawning and looking forward to bedtime. But once I'm in bed (and I've even tried getting into bed earlier than usual and reading till lights out), I can't seem to fall asleep earlier than sometime after 11pm. I don't think this is a holiday conditioning cause I don't think we stayed up that late during the holiday either! But my 5am first alarm and getting up 20mins later is simply killing me. I see much sleep in my future - haha!

So yeah, this has been a pretty quiet week, but it has definitely had some highlights. Consider this my nod to #100HappyDays, which I think is a great project, even tho I'm not (yet) participating.

Firstly, we handed in our notice on our rental and will move into our new home on 01 March. The lawyers have said we should be able to sign all the documents sometime next week and transfer should go thru roughly mid-Feb. We plan to get all the renovations done in Feb. Which meant another evening of measuring and planning what standard DIY Cupboard options we could squeeze in and where. Shew, I can't wait to get this going! It's going to be quite amazing seeing how our vision turns out. I'm a little nervous too, but we've gone fairly neutral ... even tho I admire people who paint a wall of dark red or blue in their rooms, as much as I wish I were one of them, I am not ... and I suspect neither is The Trucker. He is always looking at the bigger "One day we'll have to sell / rent this", which is sadly why he veto-ed my open shelves in the kitchen. Sad face.

Secondly I got 2 deliveries this week. Yay, who doesn't enjoy receiving parcels at reception / post? The first was my new Jozi Entertainer book which Daddio bought (currently on sale via their website for R297). I didn't know much about it (although now that I have mine I vaguely remember a competition on Jozilicious from last year). I wasn't sold enough on the concept to enter, but when we were in Cape Town, Daddio showed us the free 2013 book he had (free because he got it in Nov and the offers are only valid for that year so expired very soon). It seemed like a fabulous idea and chatting to my folks who had each used the vouchers sold me! So Daddio kindly ordered me their first Joburg book. Thanks Dad!

OMG I am in heaven. Yesterday I went thru the entire book making notes of the bajillion items we could make use of. It has some fabulous restaurants, at least 5 already on my list to go to: Licorish (we love this spot and I have already penciled it in for The Trucker's birthday dinner!) Junipa's, Red Rabbit and The Wolfpack. It also has places I've never heard of that we'll now get to try :) (there are 35 dinner restaurants on my list plus 2 new breakfast spots to try!). And then on top of that there are massage vouchers and mani's & pedi's and haircuts (his and hers and certainly more than any two people could use in a year!) and blow-waves and activities. I'm planning cooking classes and ten pin bowling and shows (vouchers for Barnyard and Parker's) and more. Yip, I am very much looking forward to using this book (and they have a mobi app!) :)

And then I got my next Featured Read from Penguin Books, Captive. Am looking forward to this one, especially since I read I Choose To Live a few years ago. So keep an eye out for the upcoming review :)

Third, we went out for dinner last night and tried somewhere new. I went to swipe my gym card (Boot Camp starts next week!) and saw the adverts for the new restaurant in the Bel Air center, The Mariner. It opened towards the end of last year, but I immediately dismissed it as The Trucker hates seafood (well, except prawns and sushi).

But tonight I was craving sushi. So he went to gym and I met him at the center afterwards for dinner. It's a lovely space, tucked away in the top of this very strange center which has only recently, with the new Game, become popular (it is a bit of a white elephant imho, although we often breakfast at the Doppio there). And they have something for the non-seafood eaters too.

We started with their Hot Prawn starter (R65), which, I must say was amazing! I'm sorta sorry I had to share it - haha. But just as well, I still couldn't finish all the sushi I'd ordered! It comes in a "snails dish" with 2 very yummy, very garlicy slices of garlic french bread and the sauce is superb :) I'd definitely have this again.

And then it was onto the sushi. We ordered Strawberry Rainbow Rolls (expecting the Strawberry & Salmon we were used to at Cedar Square), but they offer just fruit california rolls and these were just the rainbow version. I think they had Mango, Strawberry and Pineapple in them, but I can't be sure. Regardless from the unexpectedness, they were quite nice, although if I ordered them again, we would only get one portion between the 2 of us. The rest were perfect. The salmon roses were plump and the prawn fashion sandwiches (R50, the rest were all on their sushi specials menu so not sure of the price) came with caviar on top and the Tempura prawn rolls were delish! And everything comes in fours. My fave!

You know it must be good when The Trucker tells me to give them a good review (since he doesn't read or give a second thought to my blog - haha) ;) Unfortunately they don't have a great online presence yet, but don't let that stop you trying it. And there are still a few other dishes I'd try, I saw someone's prawn & monkfish curry which looks good!

And that was pretty much my week. We don't have much planned this weekend, except that we're off to collect Lily's new hutch tomorrow (assuming it's correct this time!). So that is exciting! (for me, probably not for you tho - haha). Have a good one!

Oh yes, I forgot to mention ... so, it happens to be the 10 year anniversary of my move to Joburg in May, so I'm thinking of having a bit of a party. Is that a weird thing to celebrate? Well, I'm not sure celebrate is the right word, but it feels like a pretty momentous occasion so should be marked somehow. So if anyone has any suggestions or ideas or knows of a cool little restaurant or spots that would be suitable, let me know. At the moment I'm considering just a repeat of last year's birthday venue, but somehow that seems a touch boring. Haha. Mebbe somewhere inner city, it seems fitting.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

And We're Back in Jozi

So we had a weekend in Jozi to settle back into the swing of real life before we both started work again on Monday. Seriously, I dunno how people arrive back from holiday late the night before going back to work. I'd be shattered.

We got a lot of laundry done! We got our grocery shopping done. And we almost bought a new bunny hutch. And that was just Saturday morning.

On the bunny-hutch. I went out hunting on the Friday afternoon before we headed to Cape Town, in the hopes of finding the one I had my eye one. Typically it was no longer at Lifestyle so I tried another place. They didn't have either, but since they're a smaller shop, I asked the people working there if I could get the contact number of the suppliers and find out if they could make me what I needed.

They wouldn't give me the suppliers number (obvs) but I did email them the photo of what I was looking for and they said they'd find out for me. Over the course of our holiday, they mailed me back and told me they could have one made and the price. Perfect! Unfortunately when I got back from holiday to get it, it wasn't exactly right. The base of the hutch was chicken wire. I explained that the entire reason I wanted this specific hutch is because it had no base. There is no way I could clean hay and whatnot out of the base of a hutch I couldn't even reach into with a closed bottom o_0

I suppose they presume the hutch will go on the grass or something, but I don't like it getting wet ... and then they were worried about the digging. Well Lily has never been a digger first off and then I explained it was still going to be placed on bricks and that the open base was for cleaning purposes. They said they'd chat to the guy and get back to me. I'm still waiting to hear, but they were pretty efficient last time, so fingers crossed we can get it soonsoon!

After that we had a very relaxed Saturday afternoon. Watched a bunch of Brooklyn Nine Nine and started The Walking Dead (we finished Season 1 this weekend ... behind, I know). We made ostrich mince wraps for dinner and just generally relaxed and adjusted to being home. Which, obviously, meant LOTS of cuddles and playing with The Gypsy Cat.

She has handled our being away a lot better this time, doesn't seem to have gotten at all upset with us. Shew. It was worrying me. While she was at home, we were kept company by cats everywhere we went! Mom's two are particularly gorgeous tho, meet Jax (boy) and Finny (girl):

I have come home to realise that Gypsy is actually not that fat, because Mom's cats are so much bigger than her. Don't get me wrong, she's got a tummy on her (don't we all o_0 but let's not ruin our mood lamenting the fact that none of our clothes currently fit. pfft), but after spending 2 weeks with the floofiest cats around, she seems quick normal, small even - haha. No idea what breed mom's are as they were rescue kittens.

Our grass has grown long and Lily is loving it, mostly. It does make Gyps a lot sneakier at hunting her. Haha. The gardener is back today tho ...

On Sunday morning I made us flapjacks for breakfast. You know, as a Last Day of Holiday Breakfast treat. Yum. It's been ages!

And then we went to visit his sis as she had to put one of her dogs down that morning :( Sad. After that we met up with The Trucker's friends at Bosheuval Country Estate (be warned: website ranks as rubbish on my browsing scale tho) for lunch.

I'll admit I was skeptical. But it turned out to be an absolutely awesome afternoon! Seriously, this place is great, try and get there for a Sunday lunch. They have a inhouse beer, the Pinzgauer Pilsner as well as a new one that we got to taste (I forget the name), which is much more of a girl beer and I really quite liked it :)

Lunch was a buffet (which is my worst, honestly), but this is quite possibly one of the best I've been to. R120 (or was it R125?) for all you can eat Ribs (which is what I had), Fillet, Chicken and a good variety of veg (mixed veg, delish creamed spinach and amazing roast potatoes) and salads (coleslaw, green salad). We ate far too much, obviously.

The venue is beautiful and appears to be on a working farm. Someone there definitely has a vision and I like the direction they're heading. They seem to still be building the main wedding venue but they have a few cute little cottages that look like they're finished already. Beautiful gardens (damn, I wish we'd taken a blanket!) and a pool for the kiddies. Apparently they are also doing some live music events there.

Yip, I'd definitely go back for another long lazy delicious lunch!

Needless to say, The Trucker and I got home around 4pm, I hauled a blanket onto our delightfully soft long grass and we napped and read in the shade. But we couldn't eat another thing all night! Haha.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. As is tradition on my Cape Town holidays, I continued to work my way thru JD Robb's In Death series. Much handier now that I have the books I couldn't get from Dad on my Kindle ;) Although I haven't quite finished the last one yet ... so it must still be holidays, right? ;)

As usual, I adore these. I think they are the perfect holiday reads. My Kindle tells me each should take me 5h30 to read from start to finish. They have crime & mystery, romance and sci-fi (they're set 50 years in the future). And, there are plenty to keep me going for a while longer! Haha.

* 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), Kindred in Death (2009), ~Missing in Death (2009), Fantasy in Death (2010), Indulgence in Death (2010), ~Possession in Death (2010), Treachery in Death (2011), New York to Dallas (2011), ~Chaos in Death (2011), Celebrity in Death (2012), Delusion in Death (2012), Calculated in Death (2013), Thankless in Death (2013), ~Taken in Death (2013)

~ included in Anthologies

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Hello 2014

Righto, where did I leave off? On our second Saturday evening in Cape Town, The Trucker & I headed to El Burro for dinner with The Divine Miss M and her man. She'd wanted to go to Bizerca, but we only made it onto the waiting list ... And no, I do not feel like the holiday contained too much Mexican - haha.

It was another delish meal, with some very nice cocktails. The Trucker had an amazing Mezcal Margarita (Mezcal has a very smoky taste). And I started with the Cucumber & Ginger Margarita. Later I tried their Chili Margarita, which I wouldn't have again. It was sooo much burnier than I was expecting. Yoh! I did get to taste the ITA and that was quite nice, I'd probably try that next time.

I had the Chilorio Pork Tacos (with corn tacos ... same as the ones I'd seen at San Julian) which was super yummy (tasted The Trucker's Pulled Beef and I didn't have a moment of order envy). and then, of course, I had to have their amazing churros for dessert, again.

On Sunday morning we took Mom for breakfast at Bistro 1682. Yup, we called and got a table for 15mins later. Perfect :) Such a gorgeous venue and a very nice breakfast too.

After that The Trucker and I headed off to visit Jam and her Roo (who is now about 18mnths). Such a darling and so lovely to catch up.

In the evening we headed to Bantry Bay for dinner with @jarredcinman and @blakey at their possie. Wow. I took some champers and we headed down to the deck and watched the sun set over the sea. It was gorgeous. And then we were treated to a superb dinner and hilarious conversation. And we lamented the likelyhood of ever buying a home in Cape Town (we had made the mistake of reading the property paper that afternoon) ... sheesh, seriously folks, I dunno how anyone does it. Quiet sobs to myself. One day, when I'm big.

Anyhoo, that was a lovely evening. And on Monday, with a pretty mis looking day, we decided to brave Access Park. I haven't been in years, and The Trucker does love a good discount. So we headed thru and came out unscathed. I got a pretty new Urban dress and he got 2 pairs of shorts and 2 tshirts. Nice.

And then we did what any self-respecting person visiting Cape Town would do. We went to Cavendish and got ourselves a Whopper. Well, to be honest, I had the Chicken Royale with Cheese (hark back to my UK trip in Jan 1998! Here's it's just called the very practical Long Chicken, pfft). We did get a whopper to share tho, so I could taste it. It's a lot like the Prince burger I favour at Steers, if you ask me.

I don't remember exactly how we spent Tuesday morning. I think we went to visit my gran again and mom made an amazing omelette type thing for breakfast. Oh yes, I think I went for a "swim" (I didn't get in past my hips) at St James with my mom while The Trucker slept.

Later, we were on our way home and hunting down sushi for lunch when I called Mom (who was just back from shopping), collected her and headed to Noordhoek Village Sushi for lunch. It wasn't the best sushi I've ever had, but it wasn't bad. It's quite a small menu selection. It's very weird, Joburg seems to have a lot more sushi specific restaurants than Cape Town ... well, the Southern Suburbs at any rate. It wasn't worth braving the Waterfront to get to Willoughbys, although I do adore their sushi!

We ordered a selection for the table and it went down a treat. Great, now I'm craving sushi again - haha.

And then it was New Year's Eve. We had no plans. Neither The Trucker or I are especially interested in New Years Eve. I kinda had my heart set on a quiet night in, some pizza, some champers and good tv (har har, DSTv, 50 million channels and nothing on). But instead we all headed to my Dad's for a braai with some of my folk's friends.

Yawn. On the first we woke to a truly spectacular day and The Trucker and I decided a morning swim was in order. I know, that might sound crazy, because *everyone* knows the beaches are impossible and must be avoided on Boxing Day and New Year's Day. But it was really lovely. We got there at 9am. There was a Spring tide. Not an excessive amount of people at all and a superb way to start the day and the year :)

The Trucker made Harissa Eggs for breakfast and we had a very lazy day. I think we headed to Noordhoek in the late afternoon for a walk. Mostly we went to Muizenberg this holiday, because I wanted to swim. I think we went almost every afternoon this week. It was bliss.

I think we had home made pizza for dinner and watched Gravity in the evening (we did that one of the nights). I thought it was okay. It was a bit freaky, worst fears and all that (much like Open Water, but in space, I thought). We didn't watch much TV on this trip, but we did catch a Jurassic Park repeat. Damn, I loved that movie (hated all the sequels. And it's still good. Note to self: Must read the books again. And we watched a bunch of Storage Wars. Bite-size and hysterical when you're feeling dreadfully lazy on the couch. Ha ha.

We had a busy day planned for our last full Cape Town day on Thursday. It started with breakfast with The Trucker's uncle. First time I got to meet him. And then we headed back to Parow to drop of the box to be trucked back to Jozi. And then we took a drive to Tableview to drive past The Trucker's gran's old house, where he spent many a holiday in his youth and for a walk at Big Bay and a good look at the mountain. And, of course, a soft-serve sugar cone (I lost count of how many we had this holiday!).

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

After that we were boiling. So it was quickly home to get changed and back to Muizenberg for another swim. Shew, the busiest I saw that beach the whole holiday! It was Spring high, so almost no sand space, but seriously, insanely busy! And people will, apparently, swim in anything. Seriously, people, jeans ??

In the evening we headed off to friends of my folks (with both of them in tow) for a braai. It was another lovely evening.

On Friday afternoon we were flying out, so we had one last lunch with Mom, this time at The Brass Bell :) Ah beautiful spot.

And then we started the 5 hour journey home. I am not even kidding. Half an hour to get to the airport, get there 90mins before the flight, 2 hour flight, half an hour to get home (and throw in a little bonus wait-for-your-luggage time too!). Yawn. We were home just after 8pm. Hello Joburg.

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