Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EASTER and my memories of it

When I think about Easter, I think about these things below..

As a child we would always go to my Oma's (Grandmother's) house in our new Easter dress, so proud of our new clothes, since in those days you didn't get as much clothes as my children get these days!!

We, my brothers and nephews would run like crazy through her garden to find the chocolate and hard boiled colored eggs that were hidden in her garden by the Easter bunny. All of us would have a basket full and we would eat a nice Brunch with Easter bread, salmon, the colored hard boiled eggs, tea and other yummy treats like lamb meat, asparagus, young potatoes. All these foods remind me of Easter and Spring.

We also decorated the house with an Easter tree, this is a willow branch decorated with hollow eggs that are colored and some small birds and butterflies. We would always have the house full of daffodils, hyacinths and tulips that grew in my oma's garden. Easter meant for me the beginning of spring, although it still could be quite chilly but pastel colors are the colors of Easter to me!

I am keeping up with the tradition and baking some Easter bread with the girls on Friday and coloring some hard boiled eggs and decorating the Easter tree. We will have so much fun.

Living in SA and having so much friends from different cultures I realize that Easter is celebrated in so many different ways, some even don't celebrate Easter because in the Muslim religion there is no Easter celebration. I am hosting a Easter brunch on Easter Monday with a group of international friends and we will have dishes from all over the world, it will be an interesting Easter this year!

Have a Happy Easter y'all!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EASTER and the meaning of it.

Since we have 3 religions in our family; Catholic, Protestant & Buddhism and we respect all 3 of them, but don't really practice any of them I was looking into the meaning of Easter.

Easter is a spring festival that celebrates the central event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Christ three days after his death by crucifixion. Easter is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year. All the Christian movable feasts and the entire liturgical year of worship are arranged around Easter.

Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week, and followed by a 50-day Easter Season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost.

In Roman Catholicism, and some Lutheran and Anglican churches, Easter is celebrated with a vigil that consists of "the blessing of the new fire (a practice introduced during the early Middle Ages); the lighting of the paschal candle; a service of lessons, called the prophecies; followed by the blessing of the font and baptisms and then the mass of Easter." The traditional customs of the Catholic church are described in detail in the online Catholic Encyclopedia.

Protestant observances also include baptism and the Eucharist (or Lord's Supper), and often a sunrise service (to commemorate Mary Magdalene's arrival at the empty tomb "early, while it was still dark") and special hymns and songs.

Over the centuries, these religious observances have been supplemented by popular customs, many of were incorporated from springtime fertility celebrations of European and Middle Eastern pagan religion. Rabbits and eggs, for example, are widely-used pagan symbols for fertility. Christians view the Easter eggs as symbols of joy and celebration (as they were forbidden during the fast of Lent) and of new life and resurrection. A common custom is to hide brightly colored eggs for children to find.

And that is exactly what we will do! We will hide some eggs in the garden, have a scrumptious Easter breakfast that this year I will prepare with the girls, since they are into cooking & baking... yes MY girls!! And I am wondering: Do they still believe in the Easter bunny, it seems they do, but for how long will they believe in this magical world of Easter bunny, Tooth fairy and Santa Claus? When did you or your children figure it out?? The girls are turning 8 next month, and I know by that age I already had figured it out for a while....

But I won't burst their bubble! Let's hide some eggs... I hope our own bunnies won't eat them... haha LOL!

Tell me what are your traditions for Easter? What are the foods you are making, any traditional dishes you like to share??
As a child I remember we always would get new 'Sunday' clothes, new clothes for the summer season, but we could only wear them on Sundays... these days my girls have everyday 'Sunday' clothes!

Have a great day,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Skipping... a new & trendy way to get around

Hello y'all,

Did you have a good weekend? Dirk was still in Dubai and me and the girls did movie weekend, we saw quite a bit.
First we saw 'How to train your Dragon' this was a 3D version and it was really cool! Then the girls saw New Moon on video that just came out here in SA and they were sooo excited to finally see that one... although it is a bit scary the girls LOVED it!
And then we went again to the movie theatre and while the girls saw 'Tooth Fairy' I went to see "It's Complicated' with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, wow that was such a funny movie, you HAVE to go and see it!! It is just hilarious!!

And while I was googling around I stumbled on this video about a new trend in Holland ;-) and thought it was so funny I have to share it with you! It shows us a great way of moving around in a 'green mode'. It doesn't cost anything and it goes as fast as a bike! (I am proud of the Dutch ;-)

So go out today and try it!! You can't go out and skip and not smile!!

Happy Skipping Day!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The wonderful little things in life....

How wonderful is it to have a sister to share these magnificent views, and feel like you are on top of the world....

How wonderful is it to have a daughter with such a beautiful smile like JJ....

How wonderful is it to have another daughter with such a sweet mind and cute face like Jezzy....

How wonderful is it to make a road trip and being able to have a great talk and alone time with your hubby while the kids doze off....

How wonderful is it to stop by the side of the road to smell the roses... I mean.. to stand in a field with such delicate little flowers...

How wonderful is it to play with cute little doggies without needing to take care of them....

How wonderful is it to eat an apple that we just picked from the tree with the friendly locals...

How wonderful is it to have children who LOVE to read...

How wonderful is it to experience all this beauty in nature while living around the world...

How wonderful is it to have a goofy husband who likes to take crazy self portraits :-) ....

HOW WONDERFUL IS LIFE! I am a happy, content and thankful woman!!

Have a Fabulous Weekend all!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March vacation ~ Mountains & Beach

So back from our March trip, which was amazing!! We went to 4 locations.

The first stop was Clarens, which is situated in the Clarens Valley is in the Eastern Free State Highlands about 20 km's from Golden Gate. It's an artsy town with cute little galleries and we stayed at this adorable B&B Millpond House with its beautiful gardens on the foot of the mountains.

(Click on the images to see them larger)

Just one night since we were on our way to Umngazi river bungalows. Situated on the magnificent Wild Coast, close to Port St John. We stayed here for 3 nights. A beautiful location directly on a river, then a bit of sand and HUGE dunes and then the ocean. Just a magical spot and the girls particularly LOVED it because they went SAND DUNING, how fun was that!! Really so much fun to slide down these huge dunes on a plastic board.... It went fast but the girls were PRO's, they showed all the other kids how to do it!! Really a nice stay, although the weather was only sunny 1 day, so a bit unlucky there, but we still had a fun time!! Going for boat rides and sand sliding, the girls were in heaven!

Then up to Willowdale lodge, a real working farm. Over 120 years old, this Historic Farm Lodge is situated right on the N2 mid-way between KZN and the Eastern Cape. The girls were excited to stay here, since we could do some cow milking!! Well, we tried it but the girls had a hard time getting the milk out, so the farmers had to help us! But the location and the farm house was just magical, between the hills and valleys we had the most gorgeous views in the mornings when the sun came up and the mist was hanging in the valley, just breathtaking!! The farm house had huge gardens with apple, pear, fig and persimmon trees which we could help ourselves as much as we wanted. Juliet and Jasmine were so happy to play with all the doggies they had, and we did lots of reading and hiking in this area. Very relaxed stay, and the food was so delicious, we really loved the ambiance of this little guest house!

And then last but not least, we went to the HIGHEST mountain lodge in SA!! Spectacular location!! In a remote region of South Africa, three mountain ranges meet – the Drakensberg, the Witteberg and the Maluti Mountain Ranges. In this spectacular place lies a very special hideaway, where the hand of man has brushed - but lightly. Tenahead Mountain Reserve is hidden in over 3 500 hectares of unspoilt mountains, valleys and streams. It holds a treasury of flora and fauna and it is the perfect place to experience romantic mountain hospitality. WOW, this was such a gorgeous drive to this beautiful lodge! We had to drive for almost 2 hours on a gravel road to reach this very special place, but it was so worth it!!

We did horse back riding, but I mean horse back riding to a different level!! We felt like the cowboys and Indians riding on our horses with several WILD horses joining us, running besides us while we were on top of the world. Only mountains and valleys, little streams and huge rocks, birds galore and the sun shining. Nothing else than pure nature at the height of 2580 mtr./8500 ft. This was an amazing experience for all of us!! We all did some horse back riding, but you ride some circles or small rides into the forest, but this was just US in the mountains, as far as you can see nothing, we were away from society and the rest of the world for HOURS driving. It was magnificent!!

(Candice, you have to go here, Leo will absolutely LOVE it!!)

We hiked, read magazines and books, sipped some wine on the deck overlooking the mountain ranges and also the girls and Dirk did some fly-fishing while I was photographing the flora and fauna, which is really beautiful and so different than the bush veld we are used to.

The lodge was so contemporary and Eco-friendly decorated, I love that style! It was only build 5 years ago by this Dutch couple who wanted to go and live there themselves but then couldn't handle the high altitude and got sick from the thin air. So they turned it into a 5star lodge, with only 7 bedrooms and sold it to Nadine en Leon who were our hosts. Very intimate and we got every night a 5-course dinner, which was delicious. We felt spoiled to be in this special location!! AND in winter they will get over 2 meters of SNOW, so we can come back and ski!! Wouldn't that be fun to ski in AFRICA?! Tenahead Mountain Reserve lies in an area of Southern Africa that receives more snow than anywhere else in the region.

AFRICA full of surprises!!

All in all, we had a GRAND vacation, with lots of driving, in total 2500 km/1500 miles in just 8 days, but FUN, FUN, FUN!!

Now back to 'normal' life, school, work, and for me all my activities to keep myself busy!!
Have a wonderful day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

DOT ~ Diversity On the Table.

I am part of a cooking group; DOT (Diversity On the Table) and every month we have a cooking class.

Yesterday I had a Nigerian cooking class, and our teacher was Dunke. We are a group of 9-11 women, some are a bit more regular than others. Since we have 7 different nationalities there is a lot to learn between us. So each of us cooks and teaches their favorite weekday dinners, things that are easy to cook and things that the kids like. Or things that we request, since we had it once at their house and we just LOVE it!

So far we had a Vietnamese, Pakistan, Korean and Nigerian lesson. And we have so much fun, we talk, cook, eat and laugh a LOT! Since our backgrounds are SO different we have a lot to talk about and I don't know why but in a combination with food preparing, hanging out in the kitchen a lot of topics come floating by and we LAUGH and share a lot of intimate details, so this group is such a great moment in the month, I am always looking forward to it!

Let me introduce you to my friends (from L to R)

Maryam (Nigeria), Candice & Marta (Brazil), Tehmina (Pakistan), Stella (Korea), Dunke (Nigeria), Hyun (Korea), Felicity (Swaziland) and me (Dutch). The only one missing in this picture is Schuyla and she is from the USA.

Yesterday was no exception to the rule: we start at around 9:30 am and I got home after 3, we learned to make a

Chicken & Beef stew in a tomato sauce
Dried & smoked fish stew with palm oil
Jollof rice with hot scotch bonnet peppers
Cooked brown beans
Garri drink
Yam chips and boiled Yam
Chin Chin for dessert

Of course normally you don't eat ALL of these dishes at once, that would be too much work and also too much food, but we had a taste of everything and it was DELICIOUS! So now we have a good feeling how Nigerians eat and I must say they have a great cuisine!!

Thanks Dunke for this wonderful lesson and yummy food, we all had a great time!!

Today I need to pack for our Beach & Mountains trip that we are leaving for tomorrow morning, but first it is time for a haircut, mani and pedi... so busy enough again!!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Women helping women.

I am starting a project with women from Diepsloot, the township close by my house. This is an informal settlement with about 13.000 families living in corrugated shacks with no running water or electricity. I already volunteered there at a school to children between 8-10 helping and teaching them English as a 2nd language.

But I want to do more, different things and I have started this new project now. (Still in the beginning fase, but you have to start somewhere!) We are starting with a few women with small crafts, me providing them with the materials and let them make the crafts after showing them the examples, colors, quality etc.

I want to start project by project, because you get better at things the more you make them. So first we start with pincushions, we will make about a 100. Then start with a new project, I am thinking of a local doll. By the time of the end of this year, I will have a good feeling who of the women is consistent in showing up and consistent in her craft skills and then I can start bigger crafts.

But I have to start slowly and teach them also the level of quality we want in the Western world. By the time we have enough crafts I will start selling them on the Internet via an ETSY store, so I need your help to get the word around and being my customer.

What my ultimate goal is to help a group of women to get a steady income, even AFTER I am gone, but work from home so they can still provide for their children. So ALL my profits go to these women, it will be a small project to start, but I am hoping that we eventually can get at least 25 families to provide for themselves without any help from others. I believe if you help the WOMEN it will trickle down to the children, so they can get a good education and get out this vicious cycle of poverty, abuse and addictions. So please help me by the time I start my ETSY shop!! You will help some of these local women, children and families here in Diepsloot. And I will give you updates on my circle of new friends! How fun is that?!

So I gathered some examples of pincushions they can use as an inspiration for our first project. I bought all the materials and we are starting today! When JJ and Jezz saw what we were doing yesterday they also wanted to make something, so I found this cute template from Anna Maria Horner here of an owl that you can make from felt and the girls made their own softy in just one afternoon. They are so proud!! Go to this fabulous website and print out your own cute Owl, your children will love to make one. Either with felt or paper, both adorable!!

So what do you think of my new project? Will it succeed??
And what are you up to lately, making also crafty things or more into the reading, movies, gardening, how do you spend you free time??

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!
Love, M

Monday, March 8, 2010

Zebra's at our pool!

This weekend we went to a real African Shebeen at a place close by, called Ekudeni. We were with 5 families and had some lunch and fun there, then we went to the neighbors next door to the Heia Safari Ranch to have a sundowner and dip at the pool. But then the Zebra's showed up at the pool!! They were thirsty too. Quite the excitement!! And this you can only experience in AFRICA!!

Here some pictures of the day.

The girls, boys and dads were playing volleyball, while the women were chatting away ;-)

A Shebeen is an old African pub, it used to be illegal, serving drinks to the black community. Bits and scraps gathered to give it a homey feel.

The toilet, now not used anymore... thank god!

An old car, obviously not used any more either.

Our pretty girls; Cherokee, Jasmine, Juliet & Zoha.

When we drove home through the reserve we even saw a ZONKY, a crossing between a Zebra & Donkey! But unfortunately I didn't have the camera on hand... next time. However, we saw some other animals roaming the ranch, like Monkey's, Impala's and Wildebeest.

All in all, a wonderful Sunday spent with friends in a great environment, with lots of beautiful nature and wild animals!! And all this so close to home! Where in the world can you have that?!

These are the lodges you can rent at Heia Safari Ranch.

Nature here is just beautiful!

Have a great week y'all! What did you do during your weekend??

Friday, March 5, 2010

The new Martha Stewart.... NOT! LOL

I am trying out a new hobby... actually an old hobby that I tried again lately, and that is sewing.

I learned it more than 15-20 years ago, but hated it. Thought it was so boring, but with little girls in the house I thought to give it another try, and now I like it, so here some skirts I made for the girls. Of course I started with an easy pattern that I found here. However, my trademark will be some hand-sewn beads on each clothing item, an African touch :-). You won't see the details on these pics but there are some beads scattered over Jasmine's skirt and some other designs on Juliet's skirt. I also made a dress for a daughter of a friend of mine, but forgot to take a picture, so that will come later!

The girls weren't really in the mood to take pictures or wear the skirt, although they like it, with PE at school it is hard to run mommy! But I told them, in this skirt you can run as hard as any pants ;-) It's about the right shoes....

These skirts are made from fabric from West Africa, Nigeria. I love the bright colors and the funky designs on it!

My inspirations I get from these handmade sites like ETSY, DAWANDA and INDIEFIXX, check these out if you are also a lover of handmade stuff, you will love it!!

My other inspirations I get from my friends Dunke and Felicity, we copy each other's clothes and make patterns out of these. Most with the help from Felicity, since she is a clothing designer and starting her own business. So we keep each other occupied with new patterns, new fabrics Dunke gets from West Africa and sells it to us, little entrepreneurs here. Now it is my turn to start something, but I am working on it!! So keep coming back....

Tell me, what is your hobby, do you like to make things, create something out of scratch... TALK TO ME ABOUT IT!

Have a Fabulous Friday!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mountains and beach here we come!!

Yes April, this posting is about another traveling adventure! Next week we will have a pre-Easter or Fall vacation, I have no clue what they call it, but the girls have off from school 13-21 of March. So as usual we don't stay home when the girls are off. There is too much to see and explore here in amazing Africa!

This time it will be a trip with a combination of mountains and beach.

First we drive to Clarens, which is called the jewel of the Eastern Free State.
The village of Clarens is situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in close proximity to the Golden Gate National Park and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Clarens is an Artists haven with many well known artists either living in or frequenting the village on a regular basis with many art galleries scattered around the village square. Since I love arts we will have plenty to see and do. We will be staying at Millpond House for 1 night, so time enough to browse around the art galleries and have a delicious lunch in one of the pitoresk cafes. And Clarens has a castle with a Cinderella tower, so the girls will love this fact!

After a day in the mountains it is time for the beach, so we are heading towards the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape which is South Africa’s most spectacular & yet least touristy region with it’s rocky coastline, indigenous forests, secluded coves and many river mouths. We will be staying for 3 nights at Umngazi River Bungalows. This is according to Dirk's colleague Pat a magnificent place, he recommended it to us and supposedly this place is always fully booked months in advance. The location is really spectacular!! Well, we will see... I am looking forward being pampered there, since it is also a SPA!! YEAH, that is what a girl wants ;-) There are plenty of activities to do for children, so the girls won't be bored while I am being spoiled with a hot-stone massage!

After that we will stay 2 days at Willowdale lodge, a classic country lodge. Set on a historic working farm in the heart of the East Griqualand Highlands, our relaxed environment and historic lodgings combine perfectly to ensure a memorable stay. With 10 spacious en-suite rooms, large country fireplaces, huge rambling gardens and a sumptuous selection of food in our Coffee Shop, Deli and Dining room, your stay is sure to be a sensual and gastronomic delight. In keeping with the country philosophy, we make our own yogurts and bread, get our milk and eggs from the farm, grow our own vegetables and herbs and take pride in their passage from the farm to your plate.

The girls did some growing veggies at school, so they can explore the vegetable and herb garden here, we can go mountain biking and hiking, so a bit of activities after lounging at the beach for 3 days. We need to move our buds a bit as well!! LOL

Then to end our trip we will be heading towards Tenahead Mountain lodge. In a remote region of South Africa where three mountain ranges meet - the Drakensberg, the Witteberg and the Maluti - lies a very special place where the hand of man has brushed it but lightly, beautiful San rock art being the only sign of its former inhabitants. Tenahead is 3 500 hectares of unspoilt mountains, valleys and streams. Situated approximately 2500m above sea level Tenahead Lodge is the highest up- market lodge in South Africa.

The girls can try-out some horse back riding while we are sipping a vino by the fire place and relax from the fresh mountain air, these last 3 days will be just about reading a good book and relaxing!! Can't wait!


This will be our last trip before we are heading to Thailand.... Did I tell you already that me and the girls will be for 2 months in Thailand during the World Soccer Cup here in SA? June and July the girls and me will be on Koh Samui for 6 weeks, then Dirk will join us in our beach house for a few days before we are heading to travel throughout Thailand for 2 weeks. But I will tell you more about this trip in another posting!!

I told you we like traveling :-)
Have a good day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Out of Africa... and Indonesia.

I found this beautiful website via another blogging friend of mine. African Digital Art is an online collective, a creative space, where digital artist, enthusiasts and professionals can seek inspiration, showcase their artistry and connect with emerging artists. If you go to this website you will find the most amazing artists which are not yet well known.. at least not in the international scene.

So I wanted to share some of these fine artists, so you can be as amazed as I am what a continent as Africa has to offer!! There is not only poverty and misery here, there are beautiful artists making the most amazing pieces of art!

The first one I would like to share with you is Joey Lawrence, he is 20 years old and takes the most amazing and brilliant photographs of indigenous people. He travels around the world and goes deep into the jungle to find groups of people who have never seen people from other cultures, they are just mind blowing these images! Go and see his website you will LOVE it!!

Abyssinia, the Cradle of Mankind
Abyssinia is the old name for Ethiopia, which translates to “beautiful.” (Ethiopia translates to ‘land of burnt faces’.) It has no political meaning, but simply a nice way of describing the ancient in this country. Although disputed, many people believe that humankind first blossomed from an area near the Ethiopian/Kenyan border due to strong archaeological evidence. And also disputed, many people also believe that Ethiopia is the region of the Garden of Eden mentioned in the bible. Regardless, it is safe to say that perhaps some of mankind's first peoples originated in this region, and it’s people remain ancient and diverse… However, in this present day they are also people of change.

See more stunning pictures of this Ethiopian tribe on his website:

And here another set he did of the Mentawai people in Indonesia.

The Mentawai: Shamans of the Siberut Jungle
The Mentawai have one of the earth’s most fascinating and best-preserved indigenous cultures. Tragically, it is perilously close to being extinguished by the unchecked tidal wave of Indonesia’s modernization.

Here you see Joey with the Mentawai tribe. He is still so young, but oh so talented as a photographer, just amazes me!!

This photographer and many more great artists are to find on AFRICAN DIGITAL ART, go and see for yourself if you are interested in art but also interesting people and stories from all over the world!

Have a great day,


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