Thursday, November 24, 2011

Meeting with Masterchef contestant Alvin Quah

Last week one of the contestants of Masterchef Australia ~ series 2, Alvin Quah was in town for a cooking demonstration at the Good Food Studio at PnP on William Nichol. And since I am a huge, and I mean HUGE fan of this cooking series, I just had to go!!

So I asked around and 2 of my friends, Paige and Janet wanted to join me for this fun event. So we went!

And it was FABULOUS!!

Alvin is a funny guy, joking while cooking away. Chatting with us, the public, about 40 people, some who want to try out for the Masterchef South Africa that is starting soon, some just wanting to have a fun morning while joking away with Alvin.

There were also some guys from the Gourmet Guys, and they wrote an article about Alvin's cooking demonstration as well, see here.

Me, I just love to see this guy in person, who amongst the other 24 contestants I have been following on TV for weeks!! So just a cool day!

He made 3 dishes for us, in a snap. After that we were able to meet & greet and have our books signed, if you bought one that is. We could not taste his food unfortunately because he made only 3 dishes, 1 portion size and the crowd was too large, but Paige, Janet and me went back afterwards and tried his dishes anyway.... sneeky of us ;-)

His 3 dishes are all Asian inspired, since his background is Malaysian, so right up my alley... all Asian food is!

Here is what he made: Kung Po Chicken, Buddhas Garden and a Bruised Salad. (This almost is the same as the Thai Green Papaya Salad, without the papaya).

Alvin didn't win the competition, he ended up 6th, but his endearing personality makes him one of the favorites from series 2, at least I find!!

He has his own website, see here and he hopes to open an Asian tapas bar and to release a cookbook of his and his mum's Malaysian-inspired recipes soon. For now I just have the Masterchef Cookbook, which I am happy about! But will look out for his own recipe book.

Are you a fan of the Masterchef cooking series?? Do they broadcast in your country??
I am looking forward to the next series, hopefully coming soon!!
Mireille xx

Saturday, November 19, 2011

National Adoption Day!

November is National Adoption Awareness month, and today is THE National Adoption Day!

Each year I write something about the moment our life changed forever!

The day that Jasmine and Juliet entered our lives... that day was: July 27, 2002 at 10 am I got a phone call from the Birth mother who I had met twice before, once to visit her daughters and help her to support with some powdered milk and other items she needed to keep these little bundles of joy worry alive. And the other time to go with her and the babies to the hospital to give them their shots and a check up. In her mind, the Bmother already had a plan for us... which I was totally oblivious of.

See, our adoption was not done via an agency, on that day, July 27th, a month after I had seen the girls for the first time, the Bmother asked me at 10 am if I would like to raise her children, she took me by surprise!! But she explained that it would be good Karma for her if she would give her daughters a better chance in life. She had observed me for a while, she talked to my helper and she knew this was the best for her precious little babies. So how could I deny that offer?? I talked to Dirk about it and at 12pm, just 2 hours later we were the parents of these beautiful twins. Dirk laid eyes on them for the first time, he only briefly heard about my previous visits with the babies, so quite the change in HIS life too!!

November is Adoption Awareness Month, and I know some of you out there are thinking, pondering, shall we go for this route?, shall we adopt? How hard is it, what are the hurdles? Are we prepared??

I can tell you, we hadn't even thought about this step yet... at the moment I accepted the Bmother's offer to raise her children on July 27th, 2002 I had THREE EMBRYOS implanted in my belly, I could have been pregnant with triplets at the moment we accepted these my twins. Going through my last IVF cycle, not knowing if any of these embryos would catch on, I accepted the twins with open arms. Because how can you say NO to a desperate plea of a mother to accept and raise her children?? I couldn't! A week later I found out that none of the embryos had nestled in my womb...

So were we prepared?? NO! Was it difficult?? YES! But wonderful at the same time! Was it daunting and were there moments that I had no clue what to do next?? YES!
But wasn't it the most precious moment of all times in my life when I saw these babies and could not completely wrap my head around the fact that I was the mommy of not ONE but TWO gorgeous little faces and cute tiny bodies. 3 months old, I will never forget those first few days... overwhelming! But oh so precious!!

We accepted the offer that changed our lives and went on from there... it took us 13 more months to make those little twin girls our official children! 13 months of agony, difficulty, desperation at times because the paperwork didn't go well at all!! And we weren't even sure if we could actually keep these babies!! What if they denied this private adoption?? After taking care of them for 13 months, till the LAST day I wasn't sure if we could keep them!! That part was hell!! I loved the fact of taking care of them, holding them, loving them, from day 1 they were MY babies. But everybody around me was thinking: "Who is she that she thinks that she can keep them?" There is NO private adoption law in Thailand, so that made the case so difficult, but in the end we prevailed. And we had the official documents in our hands and flew to the USA to start our new life as a family of four!!

Dirk being transferred to the USA after 2 months when we got the girls, a journey of 30 hours from door to door to Thailand. Me alone with the girls on the other side of the world, going through all the firsts alone... not easy to say the least!
Dirk flying every other month to Thailand just for a weekend to get some paperwork done, appear in front of the child protection board and be there in person for all the legal actions to adopt a child. Every time he flew twice for 30 hours, to be in the country maybe for 1 or 2 days, just to do the legal work and go back to his new job in the USA.

Since we didn't plan this adoption, it came on our path, it's what happened to us overnight, so no long discussions beforehand about the pro's and con's of adoption. In an instant we were the proud parents of Jasmine and Juliet. Think of this story, when you are in the process of adopting but don't know for sure if this is the right thing for your family, and see the end result. Just keep in mind the big picture, don't worry about the little things, it will all work out!!

To us this is the BEST instant decision we have taken so far in our lives!! So when you are thinking of adoption, don't think too long!! Go for it!! It will be the best decision in your life too!
You can never plan for a pregnancy, it just doesn't work out like that in life, the same counts for adoption. Don't think of the hurdles, yes you will come across a few, but in the end it is all about the end result and that is a precious child that you can love, hold, cuddle with forever!! More worth than those few hurdles...

Believe me... I have been there!

Adoption is a blessing in our lives!

And as I said in our adoption announcement: "Miracles do happen!" I still believe in that statement.

Just look at these beautiful little girls...

When we think about adoption, we often forget about the Bmother. For me, she is the hero of our story. The bravery and LOVE that it took to give not only one, but two children to a woman she merely knew but felt out of true devotion to her most precious possessions in life, that this is what she had to do.

To me the gift of life is the easiest to accept but the hardest to give!

B is for the bravery of putting your children first
I is for the interest you have in your children
R is for remaining true to what you believed is best
T is for the tears you shed
H is for the hours you spend pondering adoption
M is for the months you were pregnant
O is for the overwhelming and mixed emotions
T is for the terrific woman you are
H is for the honor you deserve
E is for the experience of labor
R is for the reward of choosing life

by Leslie Gallimore

Enjoy your day, and may this be a very special day!
Mireille xx

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Dicky Dick!!

It's Dirk's Birthday today!!

Congratulations to my sweet hubby of 15 years... yeah time flies when you are having fun!!

The girls made breakfast for their daddy today, JJ prepared the eggs and Jezz decorated the table with flowers and all, presents around Dirk's plate... the girls are growing up and being more and more independent :-)

The sun is shining, it is a gorgeous and super hot day today and we have a party later on with the theme:


So busy preparing for the food and drinks today and having fun later on!!

Happy Birthday schatje!!
Love always, Mireille xx

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The boy from Ipanema...

.. Is a song sung by my dear friend Maci Miller and I am listening to it right now, early in the morning while the sun is shining here in South Africa and my friend is hopefully sleeping in her bed in Philly and thought... let's write a blog post about this wonderful and amazingly talented friend of mine!!

We met through the blogging world since both have a daughter(s) adopted from Thailand, we started connecting with each other about 3 years ago and immediately hit it off. Since then have met her a few times and spent even a vacation together in Bethany Beach last summer. Maci and her daughter Ruby are close to my heart and I am proud to say that this talented singer is my friend!!

You have to listen to this smooth and beautiful voice singing the boy from Ipanema (just click on the link), I really do like to share this talented lady with you!!

So go and click, sit back and just relax and listen and even better, go out and buy her CD's. She has a few jazzy/blues CD's but also a children's CD with the most sweetest lullabies for your tiny baby!! When I listen to the song Butterfly Moon I get chills running down my spine, so angelic is her voice!!

On this link, you will find a selection of her songs, click on each one and listen to it, it is just so stunning!!

And don't just believe me... here are some press releases of Maci, the words don't lie!

“Miller's silky voice, great stage personality, and impressive interpretations of jazz standards make her one of the top young female artists in the jazz world.” — Sanibel Captiva Islander

“Beautiful songstress Maci Miller offers up 10 original diamond gems. Lush orchestrations and sultry vocals. This albums spells hot romance and enchantment. A Very Good Night indeed!” — Bo Lewis, Host, Big Band Dance Party

“Her versatile voice ranges from whispery, a la Marilyn, to poignant and yearning, a la Lady Day, to clear and elegant as fine crystal, a la Ella.” — Carol Allen, The Whoot, Atlantic City, NJ

My day started off so well, while listening to her voice, it really lifted my morning! A good start of the day!
Go out and buy her CD's and your day will be starting or ending just as fabulous as mine!! Her songs go well with a smooth glass of vino by the fire place... and Xmas is coming up, so if you don't know what to get... here is my golden tip for you!!

PS: If you buy her children's CD Butterfly Moon you will even support the Mercy center for children. A gift that gives back.
The project was inspired by the adoption of her first child and is aimed at helping to improve life for children in orphanages and children living with HIV/AIDS.

And since November is the National Adoption Month, isn't this a wonderful gift for friends or family who are connected with the adoption world?? Or are thinking of adopting...

Carpe Diem!
Mireille xx

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekend at the pool

This weekend we had some sunny and warm weather and on Friday the girls went each to their own friend for a sleep-over while we had some great Thai food at my friends Nacha's house. But on Saturday the girls decided to sleep over with their friends at our house and the whole Saturday and Sunday they spent by the pool.

Wow, how these girls can tan in just 2 days... it still amazes me! It takes me weeks to build a tan line, but the girls have it just in one weekend! Not fair ;-)

Here some pictures of the lazy and fun weekend.... (before I start blogging about the rest of my trip with my dad).

After a dip in the pool, the girls: Cathlynn, Jasmine, Juliet and Mi Young like to dry and tan in the trampoline... nice & hot!

But not long and they go back into the water...

Hmm... this is so nice! BTW do you notice my new pool has a black bottom, so that's why the water looks so dark...

Then the girls find a new way of entertaining themselves... jumping off the wall on the back off the pool. Jasmine goes first!

Here she goes, without hesitation! Whoa!!

Juliet is not sure... it looks scary from there! And so high!!

Finally she tries it... only once. Normally she is the braver one of the 2, but today Jezz is the hero!

JJ wants to try again and also Mi Young comes up to see if she likes to give it a try... but no!

Both rather lay in the sun and stay warm up there on that high wall....

But not Jasmine, she goes again and again, having so much fun!! Good for you Jezzy!!

Such a relaxing weekend!
These kids have a good life! (not that I am complaining hehe)

How was your weekend?
Did you do something fun?? Share it with me!

Have a Marvellous Monday!
Mireille xx

Friday, November 4, 2011

Panorama Route in Mpumalanga ~ part 1 of vacation

Our vacation with my dad in Mpumalanga and Limpopo was divided in 3 parts. First we drove to Plumbago Guesthouse, a beautiful and unique little place with only 3 rooms. So you can imagine that we got the undivided attention of the owners Ilara & Robbie. The guesthouse is settled between banana and avocado farms at the end of an bougainvillea-lined drive way. So picturesque!
The house, the ambiance, the setting is so graceful and beautiful, we felt like visiting good friends instead of being guests of a B&B. The details in the rooms and the table setting was something I had never seen so pretty and fine! A great start of our vacation! From Plumbago we visited the Panorama Route, Blyde River Canyon and the gorgeous surroundings, cute towns in this part of SA we haven't seen so far in detail. We just drove through once, but now we actually had time to stop at places we found interesting. A worthwhile trip!!

The area we stayed in is called Hazyview, and now I can see why... always there seems to hang a mist, everything is foggy all the time. No wonder the gardens are so lush and green, this area is so wet and moist! So totally different than Joburg where it is dry and much more yellow.

The garden of Plumbago was my dream, all those herbs and cute flowers. I got inspired by her fresh use of herbs at every meal that as soon as we came home I planted my mini herb garden, but nothing compared to Ilara's little space of heaven!

The highlights of the Panorama Route are beautiful waterfalls, the greenest canyon on earth ~ Blyde River Canyon, caves occupied by men for 50.000 years and a cute mining village called Pelgrim's Rest. This is the area where the gold diggers used to hang out! Jasmine was wondering if there were still places where she could find a piece of gold... well, we didn't try to find it. We had other things to see! Like the Mac Mac Pools, a cute village full of crafts and a silk making studio! Who knew SA makes their own silk.... it's the only one in SA and we found it!!

God's Window was next ~ a gap in the Drakensberg escarpment with a view of the low veld and the Kruger National Park. And on real clear days you can even see Mozambique! Unfortunately it was a bit foggy, so the view was not that clear. But the walk up there through the rain forest was gorgeous!! Beautiful flora and fauna!

Next stop were the Berlin Falls, it plunges 48 meters deep into a creek. At every stop we made to see one of the viewing points on the Panorama route they had set up little stalls with women selling local crafts. I loved these older ladies, one even with a baby on her back, must have been her grandchild and we promised them on the way back from the climb to the waterfall to buy something. So she is holding the wooden cutting board I bought. Handmade and really nice wood! Our first souvenir on the trip!

Next was Bourke's Luck Potholes, named after Tom Bourke who predicted that gold would be found in this vicinity. The deep, cylindrical potholes have been scoured out over millions of years by sand and stones swirled round by the water. It is magnificent to see and it is hard to see on the pictures how huge this all is. But look at the one with the bridge (left under) and the people on it, then you get a feel of the hugeness.

Just magnificent!

The girls find the rocks fun to climb on and pose for us :-)

Although this day was not finished yet, but the pictures takes so so long to download I will do the rest another day. We just have to see it in stages....

Monkey's everywhere we stop for a drink or some food along the way. They are cheeky and steal the food out of your hands if you don't watch them closely!!

This one was following us the whole time waiting for our ice cream to finish, well we gave it gladly to him, just to get rid of him! They are a bit scary, if they would grab you of jump on you... you don't know what disease they carry with them?

Mom taking care of her young...

I love all the plants along the roads....

Till next time, enjoy your day!
Mireille xx


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