Avocado Tree Update #2

So my little avocado tree is doing very well.
I am sure the very hot weather we have had has a lot to do with it!

Following the instructions I found on this blog, I pinched off the top leaves to allow for the smaller buds to come through and help it branch out a bit.  Once the tree is a bit taller I shall plant it in some soil and then see what happens.  I doubt that it will last through the winter but hey - I have had fun growing something and I have learned a lot too.

Maybe one day, if we live in a hot and humid country I can actually get to plant the tree in our garden - you never know!! ♥

Recent Reads

So I go through phases where I read loads, then have a break, then reads loads again.  I have been through a lull lately and haven't read masses apart from What to expect when your're expecting and Great with Child.

But now I am getting into reading again and here are some of my favourite recent (ish) reads which I would recommend.





Gone Girl
There was quite a lot of hype about this book - I got it for the casual book club I belong to with the girls at work.  I found it quite hard to get into but after the first couple of chapters I was hooked and couldn't put it down.  I'm not going to lie - I was slightly disappointed with the ending but all in all a good read.







The Night Circus
If you are looking for something original - read this.  It was an amazingly brilliant book, which will send your imagination running.  I really enjoyed this and I loved the way it was written, the storyline and the mystery.  Love Love love.















The Killing
I started watching the tv series a long time ago but never got to the end.  So I didn't know who the culprit was.  I saw this on the shelves in the bookstore and immediately had to get it. This is the sort of book that will have you reading into the wee hours of the morning to just read one more chapter.  It will not disappoint and it this is one of the times where the novel is based on the tv series not the other way round.












Guilty Wives
It was ok, riveting at times - a classic James Patterson book - an easy read if you are looking for one with an average storyline.








 






The Hunger Games 1-3
If this is your sort of thing then you will love it.  I watched the first movie and then had to read the books.  I like a bit of fantasy but not like Lord of the Rings fantasy (I could never read those books - but I love the movies). I wouldn't mind reading the Twilight books too...hint hint Mani!







Do you have any books you can recommend?  I am looking for something to read next!! ♥

P.S. Remember to enter the PaperShaker Giveaway if you fancy winning some personalised stationery worth £30 (and free P&P!!!) Go on!! 

Happy Weekend

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It's Friday - the weekend is upon us and I just love having things to look forward to.  Tomorrow we are going to do a few chores and just relax mostly but on Sunday I get to meet up with some school school friends in Londontown and have a farewell lunch for one of them going on a 3 month trip around America.  Jealous much!? So admire her and I have seriously contemplated sneaking into her suitcase but what with me being just about 15 weeks pregnant as well as the husband probably noticing I wasn't at home, I decided against it.

I hope you all have something happy to look forward to for your weekend - enjoy it and make it one to remember ♥

P.S. Remember you still have a week to enter the PaperShaker giveaway!

Thoughtful Thursday

Some inspiration, motivation and happy things to brighten your Thursday ♥

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From the talented Ffion at Give Me Magical

Around Here

It's nearly the end of July. Where is the time going.  One minute the clock is ticking so slowly I swear time is threatening to stop altogether, the next it feels like its whizzing by.  The weather at the moment is divine.  I am talking short sleeves when I leave the house and sleeping on top of the covers, windows and doors wide open, colour in my pasty, white skin and I can feel my body soaking up the vitamin D.
My dearest mother bought me a ring and sent it to me - I love it.  She bought it from Karin @
Dear Rae Jewellery. I wear it everyday and it has become apart of my hand, so much so, if I don't wear it, it feels weird.  Do you know what I mean?  Like if you wear your watch everyday and then forget to put it on, you feel partly naked for that day plus the fact you keep looking at your wrist to see what the time is.

My tiny part of the garden with my flowers and veg are growing abundantly.  My tomatoes are green but growing and I just love love love my hanging fushcias.  They are my favourite.

The cats are loving the weather, we have started to leave Lucy outside all day (with food and water of course) and she is in her element.  We also have a stable door as a front door so in the evenings she hops in and out through the front.  I can't wait until we get our cat flap and then Tom can go out as and when he pleases too.

My bump is growing, my jeans are getting ever so slightly tighter and I can feel my tummy expanding.  I am at that awkward stage though where I don't look like I have a bump but more like I am getting podgy.  Can't wait for the proper little bump to start showing. How very exciting!  I have read some good reviews about Mama Mio over on Nikki's blog and they sell their products in the UK so might need to get my hands on the little trio kit or pregnancy essentials kit.

Happy Tuesday friends - make it a good one ♥

Traditional Braai food


What with the weather being super awesome at the moment in the UK, we had a braai with friends last Saturday at our house.  I wanted to cook and share some traditional South African braai food.  Now those of you who don't know what a braai is - it's a barbeque.  Fire and food, chop and dop (booze), chip and dip, beer and boerie (sausage). 
Now that you have the picture....

I thought of my childhood and what I would consider traditional braai food (side dishes rather than meat) and came up with this list.

- Potato & egg salad (preferably with Koo mayonnaise)
- Three bean salad (or drieboonjtieslaai in afrikaans - love it!)
- Cheese and onion bread (preferably from Kwik Spar)
- And for pudding, you guessed it, Peppermint Crisp Tart

So I got to work and cooked the above - apart from the bread as I ran out of time.  I marinated my lamb chops using my recipe I have shared on the blog previously.  They were so yummy and were also enjoyed the following day cold - I love cold braai food.  Nothing beats it.

I thought I would share the Three Bean Salad recipe - it was amazingly delicious and is a healthy salad companion for your lunchbox or supper anyday.

Three Bean Salad // Drieboontjieslaai

Best made the day before and kept in the fridge

Ingredients

♥ 40ml cider vinegar / malt vinegar
♥ 2 tablespoons brown sugar
♥ A few glugs of vegetable oil
♥ Handful fresh basil leaves
♥ Pinch of salt and pepper
♥ Can of baked beans
♥ Can of mixed beans - alternatively a can of green beans and butter beans
♥ Half a green pepper, finely chopped

Firstly, add the vinegar, sugar, oil and chopped basil leaves into a bowl and stir.  Then empty the beans and the chopped pepper into the mixture, add some salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
Leave in the fridge overnight and serve cold.  It may not look like the prettiest salad but trust me - it is certainly the tastiest!!

Do you have a favourite braai/bbq food?  The summer weather is set to continue in the UK (YAY!!) so looking forward to a few more braai's, sitting in the garden and just soaking up the sun - with my sunscreen on of course! 

P.S. Remember, there is still time to enter my PaperShaker Giveaway

The cutest pictures, like ever.

Ok, so I might be like a little excited about having a baby and I have just have so many ideas and things I want to do.  I just love oogling over newborn baby pictures and ideas and had to share some.  I mean - how can you not want to look at these all day? They are just the cutest.

Enjoy ♥

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Things I miss about home

In July of 2005 I packed my suitcase and flew to the UK, in search of independence, adventure and experience.  8 years later, I am married, settled into our house and expecting our first baby!  Who would have thought?  You never know where life is going to take you, you can make plans and have ideas for the future but most of the time you don't know what is around the corner.

I feel really settled in England now, I mean I tend not to think too deeply about it if I'm honest because otherwise I think about moving back to Cape Town.  Cape Town will always be home to me, that is where my family are (except my Dad, Christine and Conor who live in Dublin), where I grew up, where my friends are, it's what I know. 

I often wonder what a different path my life would have taken if I had stayed in South Africa - what would I be doing, who would I be with, where would I be living?  Isn't it funny to think about what could have been?  But I know for sure that this is where I am supposed to be right now - no matter if it is hard at times to be far away from family and friends.  Skype makes this all a lot easier!

So I was thinking the other day about Cape Town and Pinelands (where I grew up) and what I miss about it.  Things I yearn for that England just doesn't have (and yes there are things here that I love which CT doesn't have so it works both ways).  I thought I would share my little list of things that really epitomise what home really means to me.

* On a quiet day, hearing the cape turtle doves singing their song "Work slowly, work slowly" - do you know what I am talking about?  Click on the video to have a listen.


*The accent - nothing is quite like a South African accent - I love it - mine is definitely not as strong as it was - I actually have a bit of an English twang now - but I do tend to lose that when I go back home.  Fancy a giggle?  Check out some South African words here.
 * The sun - of course this had to be on the list - nothing is like the African sun and the bluest sky. 

* Space - one thing I always notice when I go back home is how much space there is - in people's houses and gardens.  I also love when we drive through Pinelands in the summer how everyone has their doors open.  We are lucky as our house has a big garden but that is kind of unusual in the UK.
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* Table Mountain - the first thing I look out for when we are making our decent into Cape Town, no one could ever get tired of it.


* The V&A Waterfront - definitely my all-time favourite place to go - the restaurants, shops, vibe is just unbeatable.  Favourite place to go? Definitely Quay Four.
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* The food - one of the things I miss the most - just to name a few: Spar cheese rolls, peppermint crisp tart, melk tart, Spur food, Steers, Butlers pizza, tempo, cadbury snack, biltong, droewors, ghost pops, nik naks, Jumpin' Jack popcorn, Koo mayonnaise, creme soda....I could write a whole blog post about the food.

So that's my list.  Any South Africans out there in the UK/USA/Australia?  What do you miss about home?

On days where missing home overwhelms me I always remember my mom reassuring me and telling me that home is wherever you want it to be. ♥ 

@ 12 weeks


12 weeks today.  The little being inside me is now fully formed.  It has a heart, lungs, feet, legs and little hands.  It is moving around all the time, but it's still a bit too small for me to feel it.  Little baba is about 2 inches long now - a size of a lime.  It can clench its tiny little hands and curl its toes.  So much love is building inside me ♥

Since we found out, time seems to have almost stopped - it.is.going.so.slowly.  I know I should probably enjoy fitting into my clothes while I still do, although the past couple of days they are getting just a little bit more snug.  Exciting.  I cannot wait for a little bump to start showing, the first little kick, a flutter.  There is just so much to look forward to.

Thankfully, (now I hope I am not speaking too soon) the nausea seems to be subsiding.  Instead of all day sickness its just small waves which send me running to the bathroom.  I feel a bit more energetic.  Some days, my legs have felt so heavy, my tummy bloated, not being able to keep anything down.  These are the days which I also weirdly savour - my body is changing, I can feel it - its making room, making changes for a little person which will forever change our lives.  I keep finding myself wondering about what he/she will look like, eye colour, personality - I just want the very best for this little one.

Here are a few favourites at 12 weeks.



Great with Child by Beth Anne Fennely - a truly brilliant book.  Beth Ann writes letters about her thoughts on motherhood, babies and everything else to her friend who is expecting.  Eventually she was persuaded to make them into a book.  I am nearly finished and I cannot put it down.

Seven Seas Pregnancy Vitamins - I take these everyday without fail after breakfast.  They give me all the nutrients me and the little one need, the tablets are sizeable but swallowing pills has never bothered me.

Nameberry - scouring this fabulous website for names.  I can sit for hours reading out names to Mani.  I have started two lists; "If it's a girl" and "If it's a boy".  We already have some firm favourites.

Super Noodles - maybe not the most nutritious thing to eat out there but boy do they quench my craving!  Chicken flavour only.

Vegemite on toast - straight out the toaster, slather some marg on and then quickly some vegemite.  Eat while still hot - you will find me standing at the kitchen counter eating my toast in the morning with half a glass of chocolate nesquick.  I cannot leave home without this ritual taking place.

What to expect when you're expecting - an informative thick as a brick book which tells you literally everything you need to know about being pregnant, answering any and every question you can think of.  I keep it next to my bed and read it most days.

My plan now is to keep relaxed these next 6 months (haha).  Go to yoga classes.  Eat well.  Prepare.  Read, read and read some more and buy cute clothes of course.  And enjoy the last of the time alone with Mani - I still cannot fathom that this is the beginning of the end of an era.  But what is even more exciting is that this is the beginning of the most exciting adventure that two people can go through together.

Lazy Sunday morning breakfast

I love making breakfast on the weekends - you can take your time, cook or bake something with love and serve it to the one you love.  I treasure our Sunday morning breakfasts, sat at the kitchen table, chatting about everything and nothing and sipping on tea.

Sunday just gone I was craving crumpets - now - crumpets in the UK are different to crumpets in SA.  I am talking crumpets a.k.a. drop scones a.k.a scotch pancakes.  They are easy to make, smell delicious and are super yummy with syrup/jam/fruit or butter.

I remember making these as a child with my sister and eating them on the weekends for breakfast.  I got the very same recipe book out and spied my handwriting from when I was a young teenager - I had written the measurements to make half the amount as the original recipe made far too many for just 2 people.

So, here it is - why not make a special breakfast for the one you love this Sunday - there doesn't need to be a reason - just because.

Crumpets/Drop Scones/Scotch Pancakes
Makes 24 (I always halve the mixture)

225 Self raising flour
1 tspn salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg
300ml milk
Butter for brushing the pan
Jam/honey/syrup to serve

Sift the flour and salt in a bowl.  Add sugar and mix to a smooth batter with the egg and half the milk.  Add remaining milk.  Do this as quickly and lightly as possible.  Do not beat.

Brush a hot frying pan lightly with butter, drop spoonfuls of batter into the pan.  Cook until bubbles show on the surface and flip over - cook for a further two minutes until both sides are golden brown.

Serve immediately with jam, honey, syrup and fresh fruit.

Enjoy ♥

Super yummy and guilt-free Carrot Muffins

I haven't always been a breakfast eater - well, I ate breakfast but only at 9/9:30am at my desk once I was at work.  Now, in the mornings I have to have something before I leave for work otherwise the nausea hits big time.

Vegemite or peanut butter on toast with a glass chocolate nesquick is my thing.  But once I get to work I am a little bit hungry already (I am eating little and often which is working with the whole morning all day sickness thing) and I wanted something small but filling.  Enter the carrot muffin.  Which has no sugar or butter - yes you read correctly!!

And my word are they delicious! They basically taste like carrot cake.  You have to try one.
Go on - get to the kitchen, put your apron on and make them now!

Carrot Muffins
Makes 9 - 12
*recipe adapted from Abel and Cole Oh-so-Virtous Carrot Muffins

1 egg
250ml buttermilk
1 orange, juice and zest
250g wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder                                       
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda                                       
A pinch of sea salt                                       
5 tbsp of syrup                                       
1 large or 2 small carrot, coarsely grated                                       
3 tsp mixed spice                                       
A handful of dried fruit (I used chopped dates)                                       
A handful of nuts and/or seeds (I used sunflower seeds)
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
A pinch of oats and nuts/seeds for the top

Line your muffin tin with cases, put the oven on at 180 degrees.
Whisk the egg, add the buttermilk, orange juice and zest and leave to rest.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
Fold in the carrot, syrup, mixed spice, dried fruit and nuts.
Pour the egg mixture into the dry mix and fold carefully.
Do not mix, stir or whip.  Fold gently.

Spoon big heapfuls of mixture into the muffin cases and top with a flurry of oats or nuts.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with a dollop of butter and a steaming cup of tea.

Now, aren't you glad you baked something today?




The Phone Photography Project



A while back I read on Elise's blog that she would be contributing to an online class about taking better photos with your phone.  I knew I had to get involved - I needed some inspiration and this was the perfect opportunity.  Plus - I love taking photos with my phone.  It is handy, easy and super fun.  Enter the The Phone Photography Project run by Big Picture Classes.

I can't wait to get started when I get home this evening and tackle challenge #1.  If you want to follow along take a look at #BPCphonephotographyproject.

Happy snapping!

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