Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Spy: Shoes and Jewelry.

Well, in my post here, I mentioned that I have three pairs of shoes right now. So I decided to give them all some credit…and without further ado:
My tennis shoes.
These are actually my first pair of Nikes. I'm usually a New Balance kind of girl.

My flip flops, both made by Reef. Please ignore the sock imprint on my feet! Also, please give me props for the toenail art- I did it myself! With a toothpick! Apparently it is very rare to find a professional that can do it here in Cape Town.

My casual flip flips.

My "dressy" flip flops. Not so fancy now that they got wet :(

Moving across the world with jewelry leaves a bit of a quandary. Do you bring it all? Do you leave it all in storage? I did a bit of both, bringing some stuff I cared about and some, not so much. I’ve taken a few pictures of the pieces that I love and have with me here. 
Handmade saguaro with silver/turquoise. Something to remind me of home.
I love Bulova watches. I even wore one at my wedding!
A necklace made out of a spoon. Bought at the 4th Avenue Street Fair.

Something my father gave me. It has peridot. I wish I had brought something my mother gave me.


   This next one is a Christmas piece that my hubby bought for me from Olive Bungalow. I picked it out for myself- have you ever done this? I'm just so particular...
   There is a "bad husband story" that needs to be told. He bought it, fully wrapped, just before we went out to dinner and he was so excited to see it that he opened it, MY PRESENT, in front of me at the restaurant.  Then he made me wait until Christmas to get it. Has this ever happened to you? I didn't think so. I'm pretty sure that I will be telling this for years to come....

It is so unique because it is one piece of stone, doesn't it look like a painting?!

The back of the pendant.

Thanks for looking! 
What would you bring with you to Africa?

Visit littlemissmomma’s I SPY to see what her favorite shoes and jewelry are!

P.S.: Hubby’s blog can be found here.

Song of the day: Dedicated to the hubby because he is such a good sport!

Loving you is Easy by Sarah McLachlan:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mexican dinner!

Tortilla making ingredients, all brands you would not find in the USA. Yay for measuring spoons!
We finally got our stuff together enough to try making our first Mexican dinner here. We first started by “fast soaking” the Pinto Beans (Here they are called Sugar Beans or Red Speckled Beans), which means boiling them for 10 minutes, then soaking for the rest of the hour. This saved us about three hours, good thing since we started at 4:30 and still had to cook them for another 1.5-2 hours!

Proof I made some of them!(And never too far from the iPhone:)
Then we set to making tortillas. This was actually the second time we tried to make tortillas since we have been here. We have been trying different flours (there is nothing called all-purpose/general flour here), for these, we used a combination of self-rising flour and white bread flour.  We have not been able to find manteca (lard) or Crisco (shortening- what do they bake with here?) here, so we had to use Canola Oil. They tasted much better the second time around and had improved texture. 

Our tortillas
Once the tortillas were made, we set out to make our bandera salsa (red, white, and green, the colors of the Mexican flag.

Salsa ingredients. We only use the reddish chile.
Salsa Bandera!

Lastly, we made chile colorado. We were concerned that we would not be able to find the right type of powdered chile, but we did. The most common chile here is peri-peri, which P has mixed feelings about. He still has not found a suitable hot sauce for his food. P made the red sauce by making it with water and the powdered chile. After he complained that it was not reducing right, I suggested that he add some flour. Then he proceeded to smack his forehead, remembering that his mama does do that. Although we added it pretty late, it incorporated well. My only problem was that it was too hot and I only ate about three pieces of meat! In the USA, you buy different levels of heat for the powdered chile, but we had not such options. 
The finished product.
Paired with a South African beer, Hansa, because the only Mexican beer that we’ve seen is Corona, which we detest. 

We were in heaven!
Hope you had something yummy for dinner!

P.S.: Hubby’s blog can be found here.
P.P.S.: I added this to Sew Much Ado's Wednesday linky

Song of the day: Oye by Mara. It’s not necessarily a Mexican song, its more reggeaton, but it’s so fun to Zumba to! The video has somewhat of a strobe-light effect, so beware if this tends to bother you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Living without.

I wanted to spend some more time thinking about what it is to live without. I’m sure some of you just went through Lent and gave something up (as many people do). Did you give up chocolate? Or Soda? Or a grouping of “bad” things? Or instead did you add something to your life, like saying “than you” more or spending more time with your grandma? What did you do? 

 One of the lessons that you are supposed to learn by making these choices is how to appreciate your life more and the things and privileges you have.  Moving across the world has done something similar for us. Our situation is weird because we do have things; we live in a fully-furnished rental house (no television or radio) and someone has kindly lent us their car for the last month and a half. And yet, we came here with just a large suitcase and a carry-on each. My husband wears the same five shirts to work every day; we’ve bought him one since he’s been here. We have one five-pack of hangers for his shirts, I don’t hang anything right now. I have tennis shoes (called tekkies here) and two pairs of flip flops (a casual and a “dressy” pair- if flip flops can be dressy); I do not own a blow-dryer (but that may change this week as it has gotten cold). Living with such few articles of clothing has made me realize that I do not really need too much. I’d love a pair of loafers, but until I have a job, I don’t really need some.  I do laundry more frequently, which is fine, since I have a lot of time on my hands. But then I worry about all the water we’re using… I have started to live more frugally (and greener)- I wash out Ziploc baggies to re-use then for his sandwiches, I use small boxes lined with a grocery bag instead of buying a trash bin, I use every last bit of dish soap before starting the new bottle, I put old pizza boxes underneath the dog’s eating area instead of buying a mat, and I wash out used containers of pasta sauce to use for storage. Why did I ever need so many mis-matched plastic containers? I even saved a piece of tape to re-use in the future. How many of you have done these things? Why did you do it?

We have very few personal, sentimental things here. When we packed all of our belongings, everything seemed personal. I had to learn how to give up things that were too small, broken, aged, out of style, or useless. We still packed some of those kinds of things with our stuff. And so we still have a lot of stuff. We literally packed all of our belongings, minus furniture, in less than five hours with four people. It surprised me how quickly it all disappeared into boxes. But it’s not here with us; and I wonder if we really need it. And then I think about how it would be nice to have personal things, things with memories attached here with us. And then I think maybe that is because we do not have any personal relationships here, I’m to the point that I am missing having a personal relationship with anything. 

Note left in our mail box (I blurred out the phone numbers).
Then, I think about the poverty that I have seen in Tucson and here in Cape Town. In Tucson, we have a large homeless population because it is warm and a friendly community. I saw them often because we had a “hospitality house” for homeless people in our neighborhood. I often put out on the curb things that we no longer needed and might have been useful to the homeless. In Tucson, you see people sleeping on the sidewalk or on a bench. They hold up signs asking for money, saying they are a “disabled vet” or “will work for food.” Here, in Cape Town, poverty looks different. I have not seen anybody sleeping on the streets, I have not seen signs. They beg for money at street lights and corners, saying “sorry, sorry.” I have seen more women begging for money, and they are often holding their children as they do it. My cynical outlook on life thought that they were trying to manipulate me so that I would be more likely to give money; then I realized that they probably did not have family to look after their child. Here, I would not ever think of leaving stuff in front of my house because it might be an invitation for soliciting in the future. Here, people ring your bell to beg for food or money; and they put slips of paper in your mail box advertising their skills of house and yard work. 

Khayelitsha. Image source.
Here, there are neighborhoods called “Townships”, the most well-known is Khayelitsha, however there are many throughout the area. The townships, created under Apartheid, are made up of small shacks, crammed together in spaces of unused land. I heard that when they first settled in 1985, they had tents for shelter; as time wore on, they added more permanent walls in the piece of land as their tent used to be on. Here is the Wikipedia page about Khayelitsha, it is very informative. I imagine that the people who live there really have almost nothing in their homes; how can they when they have to sleep so many people, feed them, and clothe them. 

Houses in Khayelitsha. Image source.
I am lucky. I am lucky with the “nothing” that I have. I think that when we finally get our things, I really am going to have to go through it all again, and give away what I can.  It will be hard, but I do not NEED most of it. 

I want to be aware and present in the moment. 

I want to be kinder and gentler to myself and others.

This is what I have learned so far. 

Happy Easter.

 P.S. Look at my husband's blog- he has a new post up!

Song of the day: Simple Life by The Weepies. They don't have a video for the song, but someone put up a YouTube video with nice images to go along with the song.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Spy: Things Around my Home.

To see a general tour of my rental house, look here.

I'm adding pictures of some of the details in the house. We do not have any of our belongings, so I cannot show you my fabulous (thats supposed to sound ironic) decorating skills. I have bought three things that decorate our mantle. I also added some pictures of the few things we brought with us that I cherish. 

First, Some architectural details of the house:
At the base of the hallway archway.
Our bookcase, with the books we have bought since being here. Top shelf books still need to be read, second shelf books have been read (by one or both of us). The other shelf has free maps that I have picked up about South Africa.

The dining room fireplace. Sunflowers.
The Lounge (living room) fireplace. Ships. (Also- ignore the ugly wires)
 The three things I've bought for decoration: A shadowbox display (it has lovely fittings), and two animals to go in it.

All three together.
This is a donkey, if you can' tell.

A Scottie dog.
 Things I brought: A scrapbook my friends made for me as we left the USA, and my dogs!

Bachelorette party.

U of A football!

Etta's nose.

Reeses' nose.

Check out littlemissmomma’s I SPY project; see the things around her house and other’s too!

P.S. Check out my hubby’s blog at!

Song of the day: Lazy Afternoon by Barbara Streisand.

Barbra Streisand - LAZY AFTERNOON - Concert 1994 by TheBarbraWay

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monthaversary Two: Getting our feet wet.

     In the last month, I have gone to the gym 20 times, gone hiking once, and probably averaged two small bags of Cheese Naks a week (see previous post here). We went to Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, Muizenburg beach, we went to the tip of Cape of Good Hope, drove on Chapman's Peak Drive, and we hiked Lions Head mountain. We went to two different wine estates, Lourensford and Spier, learned how to ride Segways, and enjoyed tasting eleven wines with fine cheeses. We are finally comfortable driving on the left side of the road and navigate the tiny lanes and pedestrians with ease. I drove by myself to a place I had never been in town and did not get lost.
     We have watched the first seasons of Rome, Six Feet Under, and seasons one and two of The Wire. We have watched three movies in the theater and rented 10 movies. Still have not watched any television except while at the gym (they offer CNN, Sky News, VH1, cartoons, sports, sports, and more sports). I have written eight blog posts and received ten comments. I finally got to 555 blog views today! I attempted to use Photoshop and after much frustration, realized how hard it is! I met up with someone from an NGO and will start free counseling at an underprivileged primary school in the next two weeks. We looked at three homes, and drove past others, and decided to pass on them all as either too far, too dangerous, or too small.
     We did not have many social engagements this month, I guess our newness has rubbed off! However, we are becoming more adventurous on our own and are getting our feet wet!

Here are some pictures I took when we were at Muizenburg Beach:

Muizenburg Beach is known for its colorful dressing huts.

P.S.- Don't forget to check out my hubby's blog at!

Song of the Month: When the Fire is Low   by Freshlyground. It is a song by a South African and it’s on the radio a lot and I dance to it in Zumba.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Spy: Neighborhood

Hello, I'm gonna start doing something that littlemissmomma started a few weeks ago, an I SPY segment. I really like her blog and crafts; I have to make myself only look at it a couple times a week. I took most of these pictures today while driving to the gym and back. It was very cloudy this morning, but it cleared up nicely by the afternoon!
Devil's peak at the intersection of Lover's Walk and Grotto.

Here, they put electric fencing on as many places as they can.

One of my favorite houses in the neighborhood; it has a bubbling fountain and is 3 stories high.

St. Paul's Anglican Church, just off of Main.

View from my dining room. Gray morning, no rain.

UCT campus, Table Mountain, in the background, is covered by the "Table Cloth" of clouds.

View from my street. Lots of cars parked on the street because we are so close to UCT.

This is a house on the corner of my street, it's name is Dyffryn (it reminds me of Harry Potter!)

It should just be called Rondebosch Video (it is a video and convenience store, not a cafe!)

This is the intersection of Main and Grotto; the gray building holds the Pick N' Pay that we do a lot of our grocery shopping at.
A man selling hand-carved wooden spoons and ostrich feather dusters.

"Happiness Unlimited" is actually very limited- the store is much smaller inside than it looks.

Mini bus taxi- can you see all the bodies in it? (This is a much newer van than what you would normally ride in.)
This is the Claremont Mercedes dealership, I really like the architecture.

Table Mountain with the "Table Cloth."
P.S.- Sorry for the bad photos.
P.P.S.- Uploading these took forever because I use a pre-paid wireless modem for internet!

Song of the day: Like a Prayer by Glass Cake. It's a cover of Madonna's hit song. What do you think?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

1: A day in the life

9:38 a.m. Wake. P of course, has been up since 6:30 a.m.

9:45 a.m. Today we tried to make pancakes again. Since only one person (thanks dad!) responded to my question about my recipe, we tried what he suggested. We added more baking powder. They still were not fluffy enough. So we vowed to buy some measuring spoons today! Next time we have no reason to fail!

Do you know why we bought the measuring spoons? No, of course not just because of pancakes. It's because we found out that the date that we are supposed to get our things has been moved back again, from 08 April to an "estimated" 26 April. We cannot find it in ourselves to wait any longer for our other measuring spoons. Everything else, we can be patient about. NOT. We want our things! Living like this is hard. It's like living in a hotel- nothing personal or sentimental about this place.

11:21 a.m. I try to get us going (P calls is "nattering" at him) and P has a mini hissy fit yelling that he never has any personal time with the internet. I reminded him to use his words and suggest that I can leave him alone with his "internet" if he'd like.

1:00 p.m. We got lost and drove in a big circle, which included accidentally getting on the freeway. The purpose was to drive by a duplex that is for rent in Rondebosch (we have a walk-through appointment at 5:30). It is kinda far (for our preference) from the university, but the neighborhood seemed quiet, not as worried as some neighborhoods are about security (as evidenced by lack of razor wire, spikes, or electric fencing on walls) but they still have bars on windows and security systems. There is a big building across the street (a long wall with no windows)- interesting that it reminds me of where we lived in Tucson.

1:30 p.m. We went to Canal Walk and had Kentucky Fried Chicken, aka, KFC. We had the biggest language communication breakdown as of yet! P could not even understand the woman at the register, so I had to step in and order. I confidently ordered our food and repeated myself several times and added pointing to make sure she understood me. We sat down to eat and I realized that when I thought I had ordered a "single" chicken burger, I was really ordering a "zinger" chicken burger. Apparently the two words sound alike (try to do it!). I said very obviously (in my mind) "this is spicy", hoping the hubby would be chivalrous and eat it, even though he was really enjoying his first piece of chicken. Since he didn't step up, I took one for the team and kept eating. My burger was so spicy, I went through two napkins, blew a snot bubble, and my nose ring got loosened and it kept tickling my nose. I was zung (new word). I finally told him of my plight and he said that he had interpreted my comment as "ooh yummy this is spicy!"- when have I ever ordered spicy food?! P reports that the KFC chicken and fries tasted "more fresh". I noticed that the flour seemed to have more spices on the chicken than in the U.S.

We bought spandex Speedo swim shorts (mid-thigh and skin tight; they look kind of like this, but we did NOT spend that much!) to protect P's modesty at the gym's pool. Bought him a black Columbia shirt. Bought me an SPF 15 tank top. Big find of the day: measuring spoons!

Random blurry picture of Table Mountain and Devil's Peak.
5:00 p.m. We arrive 30 minutes early to the walk-through of the duplex, so we drove around the neighborhood. We really felt comfortable in the neighborhood.

5:13 p.m. P thinks that we can go to the appointment. I unilaterally nix the idea. We drive around some more.

5:20 p.m. I call the tenant, apologize for coming early, and we meet outside her house. Her dog greeted us and was so friendly! She was too. She told us that she bought a house in the neighborhood and that is why she is moving out after a year and a half- that's a good sign, right? The house meets most of our requirements. It has secured car-port parking for up to three cars with an automated gate, alarm system, and burglar bars. There is a yard on three sides and the front yard is lovely and has lavender growing. Lavender!!!!The kitchen and living room are open plan; the two bedrooms are small. The bathroom is modern, but does not have much storage. We really like it, as you can tell. The only problem is that it is unfurnished (and we did not ship any furniture) and there is no fridge or washer (so we'd have to fork over some money for them). She is going to give our number to the landlords tomorrow and hopefully they contact us. I'm hoping that the novelty of us being Americans will bring us good luck. Wish us well!

5:45 p.m. I text (here they call it SMS) guy in the guest house (granny flat) to see if he is getting a dog this weekend. We are not necessarily excited, because it is always hard to bring a new dog into the pack, and we do not have total control or influence over the situation. My biggest concern is when I leave the house to go to the gym by myself, I usually leave the dogs inside so that I can get out of the yard without fear of them escaping. What do I do with this new dog? I can't really leave it in my house. There is a small gate that separates that back to the front yard, which needs to be fixed so that it stays shut, so that would work most of the time. But if the guy comes home while I'm gone and leaves the little gate open, and I come home using the automated gate…I'm just worried. He SMS's back, saying that he has not heard anything from the rescue person about when they might come.

6:45 p.m. We wander around the Cavendish Mall area and find a sushi bar, one with those conveyor belts that has colored dishes with pieces of sushi on them. We sit on the balcony and watch the flood of people leaving a big rugby game. The sake was good, the sushi was so-so. Almost everything we ordered was salmon- executed with varying degrees of success. P ordered crab nigiri and almost had to spit the first piece out because it was nasty! We told the waiter to just take the second piece away because it was horrible and fake. The manager did not charge us for it. Good choice.

8:15 p.m. We watched the movie "The King's Speech." Loved it. Missed a call from the guy in the granny flat.

10:27 p.m. I SMS the guy in the granny flat to see what he wanted. He said that he got his dog, Maya, a Jack Russell Terrier (nee terror) and wants to have the dogs meet tomorrow. Sigh.

11: 13 p.m. P gets some good news about work in an e-mail.

12:05 a.m. Finish first draft of this blog post. Surmised that we had a very good day

12:07 a.m. Taught P something about iTunes (how to tell it to only play certain sections of a song). He was grateful.

1:15 a.m. Chose song of the day- phew that took a long time! 

1:41 a.m. Finished editing this blog post. Looked at stuff on the internet. Added a random picture I took last weekend. And published the post.

Song of the day: Da Da Da by Trio. The title is short for "Da Da Da I Don't Love You You Don't Love Me Aha Aha Aha. " I have posted two versions of their music video. If you can stand it, watch both and tell me which one  you like best!

This next one is silent until about 17 seconds in- so give it time.