Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Our life these days...

While in SA we're experiencing a very different life to that of expat on a diamond mine in Africa. Angus and Amanda and children visit often (they live next door!) and we're raising a pup at the ripe old age of sixty-something. 

And Rina and I continue to bake and sell homemade goods. 
On Saturday I was up at 5, rolling and cutting the dough prepared the night before. Rina awoke at 6.10 and plaited them into koeksisters
We stand side by side and kook: Rina deepfries the koeksisters in hot oil on the left, till golden brown. Then quickly tosses them two at a time in the ice cold syrup on the right. I dunk it which causes it to absorb the syrup. Then I use a rice, lift the koeksisters (two at a time) and place in the colander next to the pot
The shiny, deliciously decadent, crispy...
 ... sweet and juicy when bitten into!

Then we pack them in punnets, load them and the Canine Sales Director into the car and go sell! 
After which the Sales Director passes out on mum's bed with his pet spider 

On Saturday the children popped in from next door ...
...enjoyed a soda while sharing our lunch ...
...after which we all watched Moto GP on the telly

Two weeks ago Rina and  I went to the dentist in nearby Senekal while Grant took his motorbike to the city. I had my annual check-up and Rina had the mold made for a spare pair of dentures. Of course, after the dentist we visited Milady's a ladies wear boutique. Rina's purchases went into a lucky draw. A week ago, Rina was phoned by the shop's manageress; she'd won the draw which was a prize of a bottle of Guess perfume and a Rihana evening bag. Today - two weeks later - Rina had to go back at the dentist for her denture fitting. Afterwards we stopped off at Milady's where the manageress presented her with the prize! 
Rina receives her prize from the manageress of Milady's 

Meanwhile our youngest grandson, Liam has taken to a dummy at the grand old age of six months. His mum didn't want him to have a dummy but as he's growing up and begins teething, he's started to suck his thumb. 
Darling little Liam - all smiles with the dummy/pacifier in his mouth.

I'm linking to Our World Tuesday here

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cutest pup on the block

On Saturday we celebrated the first two weeks since Skabenga, the pup became part of our family. He's grown since then (from 2.1 kg to 3.2 kg)  and is such a darling little lad! As I mentioned a week ago, he's almost fully house-trained. I've also decided to feed each of his three meals a day in half-hour servings. This is to teach him not to gobble and that we avoid the same tragedy which befell Angie. 

Rina and I are very busy baking and selling koeksisters ; we've added donuts to our repertoire and will add cakes and tarts soon. Ever time we go out selling, Skabenga goes with us. He's an excellent selling point! When we return home, he collapses on his mattress and sleeps for ages. Grant has named him the Sales Director!
Exhausted after a hard day at the office! 
Faaaaast  asleep, dreaming about his successful sales! 

I've been asked whether the pup is wearing a T-shirt. It's the doggie coat we bought when we took Chappie to the vet about ten days ago. It's almost too small. We're in a nearby town at the dentist today and will pop in at the vet's surgery to see if they have bigger coats for sale! 

The children next door love to pop over after school to visit Granddad and Granny. Abby loves animals and is crazy about Skabenga.

Have a great week. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hedges Kitties and pup!

Hi Bozo and all Mum's blog readers. This is Ambrose with the latest news.
This is I, Ambrose on Angus' rooftop 
I. Ambrose again, walking along Angus' rooftop
And again, here I am hiding behind the wall on top of the rooftop
Unca Shadow hiding behind the curtain in Mum's office
Cousin Tipsy being cuddle by Aunty Rina
And Skabenga, the pup resting on his blankee

Dad Ginger and Cousin Chappie weren't nearby to be photographed.

For more cute pet posts, please click here

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Winter Saturday critters

Winter is here and I'm posting about how we combat the cold. 

I had fun photographing the fire which Grant builds in our entertainment area every night.
The resident cat at our local pizza place 

And an update on our pup! 

I'm linking to Saturday Critters with Eileen here

Happy Saturday to you all.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Waxing moon

I'm linking my post to Skywatch Friday here

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Good fences, good town

Last week we took Chappie to the vet in the nearby town of Winburg.

The vet's house
The vet's surgery is situated behind their home

On the way out I took photos of fences and houses.

An old-fashioned house with a modern addition on the end
Another older house which had had a face-lift
The house next door ... much more modern
The house above has been repainted - the walled fence is obviously waiting its turn!
The wall has security fence above it

Another more modern home with an old-fashioned house next door
And further along the road, another modern compact home with an old house beside it!
Riding over the low-level bridge with a small stream beneath it
I just managed to capture the old Winburg Mill

I'm linking my post to Good Fences Thursday here

Wishing you all a wonderful Thursday! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

African Red-eyed Bulbuls

Although the African Red-eyed Bulbul is a common resident in our garden, it's always a pleasure to watch and photograph. They tend to stay near to the house and last year I posted about a pair that had a nest in the rose bush below our entertainment area window.

Earlier this week a small flock of bulbuls were pecking at insects (we think : ants) also below our entertainment area window. 
African Red-eyed Bulbul - the smudge at bottom left of photo is the window! 
African Red-eyed  Bulbul from another angle

The |African Red-eyed Bulbul has a conspicuous orange-red eye-ring. It's very common and near-endemic mostly resident. Usually found in pairs or small parties. Their call is varied and they're great mimics and include phrases which sound like: wake up Gregory!

Their food is mostly fruit but also eat insects, nectar and flower petals. 

I'm linking to Wild Bird Wednesday here

Have a great week! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New business on the block!

Last week I mentioned that Rina and I had started a business; a small, cottage industry business. Some of my blog readers asked whether this meant Grant and I would not be going away again; not at all! We're just waiting, applying for expatriate positions and believing that someone out there will home in on Grant and offer him a contract.

Meanwhile, I've wanted to help Rina to get going with a business of selling home baked goods;  especially when Grant and I are in another country again. I'd also hit upon the idea of selling to the "younger"  residents of the retirement center where MIL Pam lives. There are many retired 
seventy-something  couples living in free-standing cottages; I know almost every one of them as I'd been the church organist for two different churches for seventeen-odd years - the Methodist church here in Marquard and the Anglican church in nearby Clocolan.

Recently Grant and I visited these retirees and renewed acquaintances. Most were retired farmers and the wives told me they did minimal cooking and baking these days. Gone were their spacious farmhouse kitchens, several staff and unlimited supply of electricity. I realized here was a niche for our business. Marquard doesn't have a coffee shop or a home industries and who can say no to home baking offered in attractive packaging?

Rina and I decided to "test the waters" by making several dozen koeksisters. Please click on the link and check out how endemic the koeksister is to South Africa. Making koeksisters is labor-intensive and you need a minimum of two people to make them. 

Rina measures out the ingredients into a bowl; I rub the butter into the dry goods; she adds beaten eggs and water while I knead it all into a pliable dough. We wrap it up well and refrigerate overnight. Meanwhile we boil up a sugar and water syrup with pieces of bruised ginger on the stove. When cool, we place the whole pot/saucepan overnight in the deep-freeze.  
When ready, we roll the dough out...
...then cut into strips of three which we plait 

We prepare the whole batch of dough and lay the plaits on trays,  ready for cooking. Standing side-by-side at the stove, Rina heats the oil and deep-fries the plaited dough. I've by then decanted half the ice-sold syrup into another saucepan, returned the remainder to the freezer. 
As the koeksisters are browned and cooked, Rina lifts out of the oil each one and quickly 
flips it into my pot of syrup
I have to be quick and press each koeksister down with a ricer into the syrup. This causes the plait to absorb the syrup - after which I lift each one with a slotted spoon and ... it into a colander over a dish (this is to allow the excess syrup to drain off )

A tantalizing close-up of the crisp syrup drenched sweet
The koeksisters layered in dozens in punnets, ready to be wrapped...
...sealed and sold! 

We had made eight-and-half dozen koeksisters for our first foray at selling. 

The first day that we ventured into the center,  Rina sat in the car with Skabenga the pup asleep on her lap. I left the koeksisters, which we'd placed in a basket, on the back seat. 

I knocked on the first door; the man of the house came to the door and I said: 

"Hello Basil, we're selling koeksisters; would you like to buy some?"
He said, no, he didn't think so... they were too sweet; his dentures were giving him gyp and in any case,  he's on his way to town. 

I quickly asked if Olivia was home; Basil turned around in their small house and called her. She appeared and was thrilled to see me. He said I had koeksisters for sale to which she clapped her hands ecstatically and asked how many dozen she could buy! 

Olivia came out to the car and after greeting Rina effusively and patting the pup, she chose two dozen koeksisters. She said we should go over to her neighbors, Jill and John and get them to buy the rest! 

We knocked on their door which was almost immediately opened. John invited us in as Jill came into the lounge. She said how nice it was to see me, but before I could reply, Olivia - squealed that she just had to buy koeksisters from us. Jill said: "Oh yum, koeksisters! How many do you have for me?" (Can you see a pattern emerging here!) 

She, John and Olivia came out to the car, greeted Rina and oohed and aahed over the pup. Then Jill peered into the basket on the back seat and asked if she could buy four dozen koeksisters.

By now Rina had taken Skabenga onto the lawn to stretch his little legs and we all stood around chatting. I came to the conclusion that although our older friends were happy to buy a sweet treat, the real bonus was having company from "outside" which is where Rina, I and Grant live.  

We finally said goodbye. Our next stop was at friend, Anna,   who'd moved here two years ago with her husband when they retired from their family farm in the Karoo. Anna is my friend, Carin's mum and as she was widowed soon after moving here, it was a good thing that she lives in the center. Needless to say, Anna -  after welcoming us profusely and inviting us into her neat cottage - took two dozen koeksisters! 

That left the last small punnet of six koeksisters. Rina and I decided to visit Pienkie in the MGO (three doors up from MIL Pam's unit), offer her the last half-dozen for sale and also show her our new pup. Pienkie used to take time to pat Angie, Eddy and Megan at our gate whenever she arrived back home (next door) from town. She was very upset when she heard of Angie's sudden death in November and I knew she'd be pleased that we brought Skabenga to meet her. 

She was thrilled, made a big fuss of Skabenga and she took the last pack of koeksisters! 

The exercise was so successful that Rina and I returned home, made up another batch of dough. We still had half the syrup from the previous baking. On Thursday we made them. On Friday morning we stopped off at the beauty salon; I wanted to make a manicure and pedicure appointment for this week. We had Skabenga with us and of course, the two young ladies who own the spa, hair and nail salon, gooh-goohed all over him. I asked them if they would like koeksisters. They both said they'd take two dozen each. My friend Phyllis was having her hair done ad she called that she'd like four dozen as well! Rina collected the basket from the car and when we left the salon, we had one dozen koeksisters left! 

That night we quadrupled our dough and made up another pot of syrup.  

I woke up at 4 on Saturday morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I got up, took puppy outside, fed him and he went back to bed. I started to roll, cut out and plait the koeksisters. On Saturday afternoon Rina and I made this batch which yielded 16 dozen koeksisters. We've frozen the punnets (koeksisters freeze well) and will sell them in town on Wednesday. This time we visit the businesses: banks, post office and municipal offices. 

Meanwhile today we're in the city. We're looking for a special tool which cuts the koeksisters in exactly the same length and breadth every time! 

On Friday night we'd had enough of the kitchen and Grant suggested we visit the local pizza parlor as a treat! 
Can you imagine the cold we're experiencing? Evenings are -5 C !

I'm linking to Our World Tuesday here

Monday, June 22, 2015

Puzzling disaster!

Three weeks ago Rina unpacked the next fourth puzzle called The Secret Garden and started on the edges. I think I had a hand in part of the edging. She continued over the weeks; I found several parts of the pagoda/tea house which I build in sections on the painted Masonite boards Grant made for this purpose. 
The top right hand corner shows the partly built pagoda. I was busy the remainder on the board just visible to the right of the photo

Overall Rina built the whole puzzle on her own. At 5 last night she found the last - er - second-to last puzzle. And realized one piece is missing. 
The white space is glaringly obvious of the piece that's missing!

She was so disappointed and distraught. We carried the puzzle to a quiet spot in my house. This morning Grant will personally sift through the dusty and [cat] hairy contents of our vacuum cleaner; just in case a piece had fallen onto the floor and Erica vacuumed it up. But I personally don't think so. I think the puzzle piece went missing during the packaging.  I've taken photos and will e-mail them to the book club from which I order my puzzles. I'm sure they'll send me a replacement piece. 

Watch this space... 

And no post these days would be complete without a picture of our darling puppy!

Happy Monday everybody and have a great week!