Saturday, February 28, 2009

A flower for GranJo

A precious gift for GranJo from our darling grandson

On Thursday evening my husband and I travelled down to the Drakensberg to attend my older son, John and daughter-in-law Debbie's graduation from the discipleship course they've just completed. (More about the ceremony later this week)

My grandson picked a flower at the base for me but on the way to the guest house, where we all met before travelling together to the church, he chewed it...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spiritual Rain

As the rains are replenishing my garden, I pray that God's spiritual rain revive and renew my spirit

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new person; the old life is past. A new life has begun.” (2 Cor 5:17)

The new life which we experience in Christ is so enriching and perfect that we become a new person in Him. This does not always mean that our old thought patterns and behaviours disappear automatically. What it does mean is that from God’s point of view we’ve been forgiven – He sees us as new beings. And by the might of the Holy Spirit we obtain the necessary power to bring total changes in every aspect of our lives.

During the past six weeks lots of rain has fallen, and continues to fall, on the Free State. In fact, many parts of South Africa have been blessed with abundant rain. As the earth has been washed clean and the countryside is verdant and lush, it's the perfect opportunity to be cleansed spiritually. Thank God for His mercy and bounty for giving you a new beginning.

May God bless you as you seek His will in your life.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ideas to Reduce Stress in your Life - Part 1

This is the first part of my second “How to...” posts. Last month I published “How to De-stress your Life” which was all about creating tidy surroundings in your home. (My post was about tidying my wardrobe and packing away the Christmas decorations in the New Year)

Today I’m posting points on how to reduce stress in your life. In order not to stress about getting these points workable in your life, take them one at a time, apply them and then move onto the next point.

1. Pray: Acknowledge your need for wisdom and guidance in your daily responsibilities.

2. Go to bed on time: When you’re feeling well-rested, your capacity for handling stress is greater.

3. Get up on time:early enough so that you can start the day unrushed.

4. Start saying “No”: Decline projects you feel are making you feel stressed and overloaded.

5. Delegate: Find the best person to do the job. It doesn’t always have to be you.

6. Simplify your life: Too many tasks demanding attention inevitably cause stress. (See #4)

7. Allow sufficient time to get to places: Over scheduling is another major producer of stress.

8. Pace yourself: Spread out big changes and challenging projects over time. Do not attempt too many difficult things at one time.

9. Take one day at a time: Do today’s work today and let tomorrow’s chores wait until tomorrow. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things.” ( Matt 6:34a)

10. Separate worries from concerns: If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and release the anxiety. If you cannot you cannot do anything about a situation, forget it.

Live within your budget: Do not spend money you cannot afford (watch those credit card purchases). Don’t buy things you cannot afford.
12. Have replacement items: Keep a duplicate car key in your wallet and leave a spare house key with a trusted neighbour.

13. Be consistent: As you lock your car (when out shopping) place your keys in a specific [zipped]compartment in your handbag/purse. When you’ve been handed back your credit card at a pay point, replace it in your purse/wallet.

14. Choose your words carefully: This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble. A good tip is to wait for two counts [seconds] and then reply or offer your opinion.

15. Nourish your spirit regularly: Designate a set time (preferably early in the morning) to spend time quietly waiting on God in prayer, praising Him and reading His Word. Have a Bible or spiritual reading matter readily available to peruse while standing in a queue or waiting for a meeting.
Source: (Used in part and partly paraphrased with permission) Every Home for Christ South Africa

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Camping in the Mountains

These cute Jack Russell puppies are at the base where our son and daughter-in-law have just completed a discipleship course

My husband and I had our birthdays back-to-back(Friday and Monday) in the middle of February, so we spent the weekend with our older son, John, daughter-in-law, Debbie and grandchildren in Kwa Zulu Natal. We slept over on Friday night at the base where John and Debbie have been on a discipleship course. Next morning we relaxed on the farm while John completed various tasks. I walked around, camera in hand, snapping the children at play as well as the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen. I also took a close-up picture of one of the horses in a paddock beyond the garden. Now this last bit of information may not seem important to most people, but for me it was groundbreaking stuff. You see, as much as I love animals, I am petrified of horses. I even managed to hold out a few M&M’s on the palm of my hand to tempt the horse nearer. I’ve never been able to do this; my fingers always inadvertently curled as the horse’s lips came near!

A horse at the farm chewing M&M's while I take his photo

The horse poses sedately for me

One of the many beautiful scenes on the trip into the mountains

The huge square edifice is called Cathkin Peak. This majestic mountain (3149 m/1968 ft) is guarded on each side by precipitous cliffs which defied all attempts to climb her until 1912 when George Amphlett and party reached the summit via the South Gully. I took this photo from our campsite

By mid-morning on our family was on the way to the mountains. We all love the Drakensberg. This huge range of mountains was thus named by early pioneers because it's shaped like a dragon’s back. There are many places to visit in the Drakensberg, but we as a family love to camp in the Central ‘berg. This specific weekend we drove to a favourite campsite in the Monk’s Cowl area.

In the days before they had children, John, Debbie, my husband and I regularly hiked high up into these mountains to spend the night “at the top”. Nowadays a visit to the ‘berg simply means camping overnight in the valley and doing day hikes along the contour paths. Not half as strenuous or challenging, but very precious because we having the little ones with us adds a totally new dimension to the walks. My son carries his 2 ½ year- old son in a framed backpack while our [almost] 6 year-old granddaughter, bursting with energy, runs on ahead of us. On this trip, we waded through icy mountain streams and tried to see who could spot the robins in the undergrowth and the boulder chats and various grass birds in the open areas.

At night, we enjoyed a spot of stargazing while eating a light meal of pork sausages and bread grilled on the fire. This was washed down with delicious camp tea.
The next morning we broke camp and drove to a neighbouring resort where we attended an open-air church. This service is held every week in a thatched building in the middle of a dam with mountains soaring up above it.
The family and others off to church in the middle of the dam

Afterwards we enjoyed a final cup of tea with our precious family, said goodbye and came home. What a blessed and wonderful way to relax , spend time with loved ones and enjoy the outdoors.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Plant Location

My dwarf coral tree (Erythrina humeana) and confetti bush (Coleonema pulchrum) stand side-by-side on the path leading to the wash line and small vegetable garden behind the garages
According to my book, A South African Garden for all Seasons, (Reader’s Digest) the shrub on the right in the photo above, when in full flower, looks like it’s been sprinkled with pink confetti. It is called a confetti bush – what else! (Coleonema pulchrum.) It is flanking my pride-and-joy of the moment: a dwarf coral tree (Erythrina humeana)

I should actually wait until they both are in FULL flower before posting about them; but I’m far too excited about the results I’ve achieved so far to wait! (I will post later again, when they are in full flower) You see, I’ve proved that if you plant in the correct location, (yes, even indigenous plants are sensitive, vulnerable to sun/wind and susceptible to frost) you reap the best results.

My confetti bush (Coleonema pulchrum) only has a few scattered flowers at the moment

In November 2006 while browsing through the fascinating nursery and gardens at the Free State Botanical Gardens, I spotted a beautiful potted shrub with coral coloured flowers. When I asked the very knowledgeable salesman what it was called he said it was a dwarf coral tree (Erythrina humeana). My next question to these salespeople is always, “Does it grow easily/do well in the Eastern Free State?” To which they ALWAYS reply, “Yes,”. I bought it. I subsequently read that it was endemic to the South-Western Cape but thought I’d give it a chance in my area. I planted it in the middle of my garden alongside the aloes (Aloe spp) and Barberton daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) which were doing well in this exposed bed.

It grew marginally but by the next winter it died down completely. In fact I thought I’d lost it to the frost, but my older daughter-in-law, who had a beautiful specimen of the shrub in her garden just down the road from me, assured me it would return again in the warmer months. Sure enough, it appeared in October and while it seemed to struggle to grow, it survived until the next winter when it died down completely again.
My dwarf coral tree (Erythrina humeana) beginning to flower
In the photo above, the newer buds of flowers are already visible
By now I realised that something was not right. While visiting my d.i.l. and walking through her beautiful garden, I noticed that her dwarf coral tree had grown into a lovely strong shrub and was flowering profusely! I dashed home, called John the gardener, and told him we need to find a suitable new home for my plant. I showed him a photo of a flowering Dwarf Coral Tree in my Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants – (Pitta Joffe), and told him that Debbie had planted hers against the wall surrounding the swimming pool.
Together we went in search of the perfect spot.

When we got to the cathouse wall which faces west, alongside a path leading to my small vegetable garden and the windy drier/wash line, we both said “Mona!” (South Sotho for "Here") John dug a hole, a spade deep and a spade wide, added a few small stones, some compost and fertiliser. He topped it with a bucket of fresh cold water. Then we went to the waning dwarf coral tree, lifted it gently, carried it to its new planting hole and replanted it.
From the first day it THRIVED. Because of this sheltered spot, it survived the winter. When spring arrived it shot out new leaves and spiny branches. Last week I noticed the first flowers and yesterday they had opened enough for me to photograph. The leaves are made up of three leaflets and hook thorns are found on the main veins and stalk. It is (as my book says,) an attention-grabbing shrub/small tree, 3m x 2.5m with long-lasting nectar-rich flowers throughout the summer, which attract both birds and insects.

Watch this space for further exciting developments!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Golfing in Guinea

This the what a green looked like on our golf course in Guinea

Living on a goldmine site in Guinea, West Africa was not all work and no play. In fact, after work, there was always so much to do, I had to schedule my activities to fit them all in!

One of my favourite pastimes was playing golf. My English friend, Morag and I had a date every Wednesday evening after work and on Saturday afternoons.

My husband and his expat team of earthmoving technicians built a four-hole golf course just outside the perimeter of the camp. This was no ordinary feat. The fairways were laterite (gravel) and the greens were sand tamped down with old engine oil. We had a special rake with which we made a path from where your ball landed on the green, to be able to putt it towards the hole.

The fairway looking down to the third hole - 222m

Me driving up the fairway pictured above this photo

We had many other special tools and gadgets to enable us to play golf on this type of course. Instead of golf tees, I cut up 2cm and 4cm rings out of hosepipe. I then made a hole in each and tied them together with a piece of thin nylon rope about 30cm long. These made perfect tees for driving off the fairway. Morag and I also used a flat piece of rubber matting/Astro turf. This prevented my clubs from becoming scratched and scraped.

The winning team with the project manager (in yellow striped shirt) in the foreground. I'm the redhead with hand on hip
Every year, the contractor company where my husband worked sponsored a golf day. Before the draw took place the night before, my husband arranged with the project manager (who organised the sponsorship and tournament) that Morag and I play together because we shared my ladies' clubs. This was always announced to the other competitors and they always all agreed! Ironically, the last tournament we played in, we also drew two excellent golfing partners. We subsequently won the tournament.

I look back with longing and nostalgia on my life in West Africa.
The golf course in my town; I live two doors from here!

Above are photos of the golf course here in town. I live two doors away from the 17th hole and yet I’ve never played there. Morag has returned to the UK, I came home to South Africa. I don’t think a game of golf will be same without her. Maybe someday I’ll dust off my golf clubs in their cart, wheel them down the road to the course and hit a few balls...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Special Birthday Dinner

The accompanying tangy apple salad makes this a really different and tasty dish

On Monday evening I wanted to make something special for my husband's birthday dinner. I found this recipe in a magazine. It was simple to make and oh, so tasty.

Pork Cutlets with Apple Salad – Country Life March 2009
(Serves 2)

4 pork cutlets
2 T sweet soy sauce
1 bunch coriander, washed and finely chopped
2 T olive oil

2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
Lime juice
2 spring onions
Coriander leaves, finely chopped
6 cherry tomatoes
¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 T brown sugar
Juice of a lime
1 T fish sauce

Place the pork in a shallow dish and drizzle with soy sauce.
Add the coriander and 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Toss to coat the pork.
Heat remaining oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat
Add the pork cutlets and fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side
Remove from pan and set aside to rest while you make the salad
Whisk the garlic, chilli, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce together in a small bowl
Toss the apple in another bowl with lime juice
Add all the other salad ingredients
Pour dressing over and mix well
Serve immediately with pork cutlets

Note: I didn’t have spring onions and used onion rings instead.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meet Eddy

Eddy, a purebred Wire Haired Terrier

Eddy has been part of my family for the past six years. She belongs to my older son and daughter-in-law and since she was a puppy, Eddy has been coming to my house with them. She knows my dogs and gets on well with them. In fact, when my son and d.i.l. left Marquard at the end of 2003 (they had bought a house in Durban, and wanted to live in it rather than rent it out), Eddy just wouldn't get into the car when they were leaving. She stayed beside me and she remained here with me until her owners came back to Marquard early in 2005. (They discovered that the cost of living was horrific in the city, sold their home and bought a lovely old house here in town)

While they lived in Marquard, Eddy would often run up the street and stand at my gate waiting to be let in. She’d come in and visit, play with the other dogs, have a snack and then stand at the gate again, waiting to be let out so that she could go home! You see, Eddy was bought as a purebred Jack Russell Terrier who turned out to be a purebred Wire Haired Terrier. Terriers have no fear of being in the street and Eddy is no exception; in fact she is the most streetwise dog I have ever come across.

Eddie and Angie have been firm friends from the first day

No sign of doggy depression here!

Instead, the epitome of canine confidence
Five months ago, my son and d.i.l. sold their home, stored their furniture, and moved back to Kwa Zulu Natal to attend a discipleship course at Y-WAM. Eddy went along with them. Within a week my Debbie (my daughter-in-law) noticed that Eddy was struggling to hold her own among the other dogs on the farm. There were nine of them, all Jack Russell Terriers and they all bullied her.

On their last visit to us at the beginning of February, my son brought Eddy with them. By the end of the weekend when they were ready to leave, Eddy had settled in so well here in my yard, that we told my son to leave her here. Debbie was very relieved; she reckoned that Eddy was becoming depressed on the farm. I can believe that. Imagine not fitting in; your family (owners) are working so hard and are so busy they don't have time for their own recreation, let alone for you. On top of it all, the other canines gang up and terrorise you. I would also become depressed...

Well, Eddy has reverted to her old cheerful self here in “Doggy Heaven” as my dear old neighbour calls my home. Eddy has been dewormed, tick repellant has been applied; she is well and gaining weight. She and Megan immediately became re-acquainted. And of course, she and Angie are the best of friends. Initially the cats were a little wary of her, (Pu-leeze, they’ve only JUST gotten used to Angie!) but at last, everyone is living together peacefully in my garden...

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Beautiful Gift

An original painting by young artist in town

My birthday gift has pride of place in my kitchen

At the beginning of December I attended the bridal shower of my friend, Rinette’s daughter, Doret. She is a talented young artist and the party doubled as her first art exhibition. I sat and chatted to the other guests and had no intention of buying art. When everyone began to leave, my friend asked me to phone my husband to come and have a cup of coffee. (We all know each other very well and my husband was also invited to the shower/exhibition but he said under no circumstances will he go and sit amongst women and drink tea!)

However, I managed to convince him that only Rinette, the bride-to-be and I remained at the venue. He came down and after pouring him a cup of his favourite beverage - filter coffee - Rinette proceeded to show him the paintings. Within minutes he called me and asked whether I’d like one of them. I had surreptitiously been eyeing a long painting of a teapot, cups emitting steam and a jug and sugar basin. It was a most unusual painting, especially the shape but I didn’t like the colours.

I joined them and when we arrived in front of the painting, I told Doret, that if I bought it, I’d want to hang it in my kitchen but it didn’t suit my colour scheme. She promptly offered to paint it in the colours of my choice (eggplant/aubergine) and my darling hubby immediately booked it for my birthday.

We were away over my birthday weekend so my husband fetched the painting from Rinette yesterday. It has a light-coloured wooden frame and as I didn’t want it varnished, he sanded it and polished it with teak oil.

It’s a really beautiful gift; one I can enjoy while in my kitchen and office.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Worship God in His Glory

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of His name.
Tell the world how glorious He is.
Say to God: How awesome are your deeds!
Psalm 66:1-3a

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mozzarella, Aubergine and Tomato Stack

Last night I felt like a light supper and came across this delicious recipe in a health and wellness magazine. I grilled a few rashers of bacon for hubby to eat with this vegetarian meal; he actually cleaned his plate!
Mozzarella, Aubergine and Tomato Stack
(Weigh-Less Magazine Jan/Feb 2009)
(Serves 1)

60g Mozzarella, sliced
100g tomato, sliced
100g aubergine, sliced
5ml Virgin Olive oil
5ml Balsamic vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper

Brush the aubergine with olive oil and grill in a very hot pan till golden
Stack all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper
Drizzle with remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Garnish with fresh basil leaves
Serve immediately

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Garden


Going through my garden folder recently, I found all my “garden before” photos. When I first launched my blog in October, I posted about my garden “before and after” See this post here. As a refresher I decided to post these scanned photos again, as well as my garden photographed this summer.

My garden today....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Grant

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through the snow. -- Jeff Valdez

My husband, by his own admission, is more of a cat person than a dog person. Even though he loves all the animals on the yard, he spoils the cats unashamedly. It’s his birthday today so I reckoned I’d show a few photos of our cats past and present. I’ve also added a few Cat Quotes. (Quotes about cats)
Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this." --Anonymous

"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats." --English proverb "
One cat just leads to another." --Ernest Hemingway

"Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later." --Mary Bly

Cats fill the empty space in the human world --Marion C Garrety
People that hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life." --Faith Resnick

Cats could've ruled the Universe but they couldn't be bothered.--Anonymous
Dogs have owners, cats have slaves! --Amanda Bell
Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia." --Joseph Wood Krutch

Women and cats will always do as they please; dogs and men should just accept this. – Sign in a vet’s surgery
Every life deserves nine cats

It doesn't matter if you're six foot two and broad of shoulder, if a cat is looking for a mother, you're IT. -- Pam Brown