Custom Chalk Paint

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but chalk board paint is everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE! From DIY crafters to vintage furniture salvager’s – they are all using it.

Gone are the days where chalk boards are relegated to the school classroom, it’s now hip to paint vintage furniture with it, or even entire walls in your house for the kids to have as a canvas for their masterpieces. The only thing is black or green chalk boards don’t necessarily fit with most of our decor! Well, enter custom coloured chalk paint!

That’s right you can create your very own shade of custom chalk paint from…wait for it…left over wall paint! Yes, that’s right! All those little splashes of paint sitting in the garage you thought were useless can be used to turn any surface into a snazzy chalkboard!

For our second anniversary I had a fun idea of starting a new tradition with a “year counter” mini chalkboard. A little fun board we could use every year to take a couple snaps with, updating the number of years of marital bliss as they go by. Too bad I didn’t have this stroke of genius last year and start the tradition at #1…oh well…we can’t be brilliant all the time.

 

I had some wonderful red Para paint left over from painting our kitchen last year and decided that would be perfect for this little DIY project. I dashed off to the local craft store and found this perfect little heart shaped wood plaque.

 

 

I quickly whipped up the chalk paint recipe (found below) and got to painting. Now because this little project was so small I only mixed half the recipe, and even that was way too much for this little board. The mixture will be significantly thicker than your regular paint and you need to ensure even coverage. I applied the chalk paint directly to the wooden surface without primer, however for larger projects (and full chalk board walls) I would suggest a primer.

 

 

By this point hopefully I’ve got you excited for your next DIY project and are eager for the  step by step to custom colour chalk paint!

Custom Coloured Chalk Paint

Start with flat-finish latex paint in any shade. For small areas, such as a door panel, mix 1 cup at a time.

1. Pour 1 cup of paint into a container. Add 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout. Mix with a paint stirrer, carefully breaking up clumps.

2. Apply paint with a roller or a sponge paintbrush to a primed or painted surface. Work in small sections, going over the same spot several times to ensure full, even coverage. Let dry.

3. Smooth area with 150-grit sandpaper, and wipe off dust.

4. To condition: Rub the side of a piece of chalk over entire surface. Wipe away residue with a barely damp sponge.

That’s it! Super easy and SO rewarding!

And look how cute it turned out!

Oh ..and by the way…I didn’t eat a whole buffet for breakfast, that’s Baby T. getting ready for his/her big debut around Christmas time :) Exciting times!

There are a number of ways you can incorporate chalk paint into your home decor. Here are a few ideas:

Wall Calendar

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A home office is the ideal spot for a family planner. Six weeks’ worth of squares in a variety of shades can accommodate several schedules. The entire wall is also coated with chalkboard paint for more memos.

Mudroom Mural

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The bottom half of a mudroom wall is just the right height for pint-size Picasso’s  When inspiration strikes again, the canvas can be wiped clean with a damp sponge.

Pantry Reminder

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Covered with chalkboard paint, a pantry door serves as the perfect place to keep a running shopping list. This concept also works on children’s closet doors.

 

 

 

 

Well I hoped that inspires you do get creative with your dribs and drabs of paint you may have sitting around!

An Anniversary mini getaway

Last Month Mr. T. and I celebrated 2 wonderful years of marriage! I cannot believe that 2 years have flown by since our big day! I often tease Mr. T. about doing it all over again       (I can’t help it…it’s the event planner in me!) to which he nearly passes out and says never again! It truly was a dream day and I often close my eyes and remember the special moments we had. My advice to anyone getting ready to walk down the aisle: stop and take mental pictures throughout the day, soak it in!

For anniversary #2 Mr. T. took on planning it all! I knew I was getting whisked away somewhere but didn’t know the details or activities he had planned.

We started off at The Boathouse Restaurant in Horseshoe Bay for brunch. This was a perfect choice as the Boathouse in New West was where it all started with our very first date!

Afterwards a short ferry ride delivered us at Gibsons and we made our way up the stunning Sunshine Coast.

Mr. T. kept asking whether I had any clue what may be planned for the afternoon, but I was quite happy to be surprised! I was just thrilled that he had planned everything and I was along for the ride, wherever that may take us!

A short while later we arrived at The Rockwater Secret Cove Resort in Halfmoon Bay where Mr. T. had booked us in the sweetest little log cabin perched out over the rocks.       It was serene.

The picture on the left was our view from the little deck, and the picture on the right was our cabin taken from the other side of the bay. With only the gentle sound of the ocean and a sweet sea breeze city life seemed to slip away almost instantly.

Next up: my surprise! I was whisked off to enjoy a relaxing massage ocean side in a tent! That’s right! The spa services during summer and fall are offered beach side in their “Spa without Walls” secluded tents where the background music is the lapping waves and wind in the trees. It was amazing.

Dinner was at the resort restaurant and it was beyond five stars!

I started off with west coast mussels in a coconut curry sauce, Mr. T. went for a fresh crab cake, prawn and scallop starter.

Main course for me was delicious scallops with prawn risotto and butternut. Mr. T. had a succulent steak with a red wine butter.

Needless to say there was not room for desert!
The view we woke up to was breathtaking and Mr.T. enjoyed his morning tea and reading time on our little deck.

After a wonderful breakfast of crab cake benedicts (we decided that this trip was to be called the crab cake tour as the last three meals for Mr. T. had included crab cakes!) we explored the the resort and took a few pictures to mark the special day with the stunning scenery as a backdrop.

We didn’t splurge on gifts for each other, the getaway was a gift enough, but I did make this little chalkboard plaque for us to use as a year marker.

I like starting little traditions like these. Tomorrow I will share with you how to make your very own custom colour chalk paint for crafts like this and other projects around the house!

I decided to do a different twist on the traditional anniversary card and made this little “book” instead.

We have an over abundance of playing cards in our house, for some random unknown reason so this was a perfect use for one of them!            Check back later this week and I will share with you how I made it. It’s really easy and very meaningful!

After exploring the luxury tents at the resort…

we made our way back to the little town of Sechelt for some shopping.

Once back on the ferry we were greeted with the most spectacular display of a rainbow. A perfect ending to a wonderful overnight getaway that truly felt like a three day holiday!

I just love that we were blessed with this little surprise on our actual anniversary day! As we sailed on it turned into a double rainbow – fitting with it being our second anniversary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you are all enjoying this crisp sunny weather!

 

 

 

Picture Perfect – Canon Camera Cake

This last week I had the pleasure to create a Canon Camera Cake. The birthday girl is working towards making her passion for photography into a successful professional photography career!

Well I was worried that I had bitten of more than I could chew (pardon the pun:) ) but took the challenge head on! The birthday girl’s favourite flavour right now is Red Velvet with a custard filling, so the base cake was red velvet and I sculptured the camera out of a french vanilla sponge.

The camera sculpting got off to a fabulous start! I was even thinking – wow this is going great. The shape was looking good, the fondant went on well….and then on to doing the details.

And then I noticed the gooping…..that wouldn’t stop!!

Insert Confessions of a cake baker: It’s not always as easy as it looks!

I had thought that I could use the custard as a crumb coat under the fondant = WRONG!  It was having a melt down – of epic proportions. At about hour 4 of creating the camera I reached the critical point of saying I gotta start over. So much for it going so well in the beginning!

 

 

So round two start bright and early the next morning and having pretty much done the whole cake the day before at least I knew how to tackle it the second time around. Only lets stick with the tried and true buttercream crumb coat under the fondant! But my motto of “if it’s not perfect it won’t do” kept spurring me on.

I had asked the birthday girl “casually” about her camera over the weekend and got the scoop on her camera model.

It was super handy that I have a Canon Rebel as well to act as the real life model, I was able to make it exactly to scale.

It came together so well in the end and I was quite pleased with the result.

According to her mom she didn’t even realize it was her cake when she walked in – she thought it was her friends camera sitting on the table!

Happy Birthday LK!! God Bless you this coming year!

 

 

Electric Guitar Cake

This past weekend was packed full of fantastic Easter celebrations! Good Friday service and then an epic Grand Service at the Orpheum Theatre with over 2700 people in attendance – WOW!

Sunday lunch was hosted by wonderful friends who we have known since the day we got here, and with my aunt, uncle and cousins in attendance it really was more like a family gathering.

The day before was my youngest cousins 25th birthday. I really think my cousin is amazing.

I have watched him build his band, Giraffe Aftermath, from the ground up over the past 6 years. I little bit reggae, a little bit hip-hop it’s a unique sound that surprisingly even this mainstream girl enjoys. Every time I speak to him I hear they are playing bigger and better venues and I always think back to one of their first gigs at the Legion on Commercial Dr: My uncle was their roadie running around setting up mics, I was trying to sell CD’s for them. Fast forward a few years and they are well on their way with their last gig a week ago at the Backstage lounge on Granville Island. Regardless of whether they make it BIG some day, I admire their tenacity to stick with it through the growing pains of a young band and following their passion.

So to celebrate Steven I made him a cake, and what would be better than an electric guitar cake in red, gold and green?!

Yummy chocolate cake with a delicious chocolate buttercream.

Being the oldest of this generation, I was the first to have the 1/4 century joke said to me. By my younger brother. “Wow, you’re a 1/4 century – you’re half way to fifty now!” Umm…thanks….well that wasn’t so smart on his part now was it? Guess what turned up on his 25th birthday cake a few years later?? So in keeping with tradition we welcomed Steve to the 1/4 century club.

 

He loved the cake, but hated the attention.

Weird for a guy that gets up on stage and sings for a living! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we made him cut the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So it turns out he hasn’t a clue how to cut a cake and hacked crazy shaped pieces for everyone.

But it was delicious so that’s all that matters. And we had a great time.

After eating turkey dinner and stuffing our faces with cake it was all we could do to lounge out for the rest of the evening!

Hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s getting saucy around here…

Well I’m not sure what has happened but ever since getting back from our trip to Africa Mr. T. has caught a major cooking bug – not that I’m complaining! I’m loving it! His reasoning: not wanting to do dishes anymore because in our house the rule is whoever cooks the other cleans :)  So we have been treated to some really yummy healthy dinners!

One thing that Mr. T. has always loved to do is BBQ, as most men do. Over the last couple years he has been perfecting his very own made-from-scratch BBQ sauce and anyone who tries it loves it!

We have been trying to eat much healthier lately and have been choosing less processed foods of late. So as our homemade BBQ sauce is running low,

 MR. T. decided that for this batch he would use homemade Ketchup as the base instead of a preservative filled store bought concoction.

So off he went to the local market and wouldn’t you know it roma tomatoes were on sale – score for us!

 

 

What I’ve noticed with sauce making – it takes a long time in the crock pot, but so worth it to have the homemade taste knowing there’s no nasty preservatives in there.

So first things first washing and chopping of a whole lot of tomatoes and throw everything in the crock pot…

And then let it all simmer for about 4 hours stirring very occasionally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Puree in the blender and strain through a mesh strainer

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I will say that it has a very different taste to the store bought variety, but knowing it had good fresh ingredients makes it an easy choice. I wouldn’t necessarily use it with eggs and bacon, but substituting it in recipes that call for ketchup or tomato sauce would be perfect.

Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped or use 2 tbsp ground fennel
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise pod
  • 1 tablespoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large saucepan or crockpot combine tomatoes, fennel, onion, garlic, sugar, molasses, vinegar, cloves, anise pods and salt. Reduce over low heat until mixture becomes very thick. If using the crockpot set to low for 4-5 hours.
  2. Remove star anise. Puree mixture in a blender and strain through a mesh strainer. Chill and store in refrigerator.
Enjoy friends!

The great escape ~ Helicopters and Army Men

Sorry for the delay on posting the final post of our great African adventure. If you missed the previous post, have a quick read through to catch you up to speed for this installment.

So at the advisement of our lodge hosts, we packed our bags to be ready to fly at any moment. We planned to go out on another drive in the land cruiser to see some game hopefully, and I was praying hard that this will be our glimpse of the big 5 that we were so dying to see! Literally MOMENTS before stepping on to the land cruiser the phone rings with the Chief of Police on the other end saying to the lodge owners: The army is sending a chopper to come get your guests at the top of the main road in the next 15 minutes!

That’s when it hit me. It’s over. The opportunity gone. Done. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was that there was not going to be another chance for this to come right. And that’s when the tears came. I had been so strong through the whole ordeal, but I was done.

I know this might sound ridiculous that I was so upset over not getting to see animals, but this was so much more than that to me. It was deeply rooted in the desire for Mr. T. and I  to experience a true African Safari and for us to share that experience, that “first”  together. I had set high expectations for this part of our trip and it was now beyond my control that it was not going to happen. Wow. That’s a stretch for me. Knowing I couldn’t do anything to change the outcome. I always look for a solution of how we can make things work – even in crazy circumstances like floods! What a test of grace and patience.

So we piled into the land cruiser and off we headed out of the reserve at break neck speed navigating through washed out roads, and potholes big enough to swallow the vehicle.

We gathered on the main road and waited to be rescued. What a weird feeling that was. Here we were with the amazing sunshine beating down – everything looking so beautiful, but we were being airlifted to safety?!?! I think that’s why it felt so strange – I didn’t feel in any danger, but the fact was there was no access in or out….and as I had mentioned the food was running out!

Once at the main road we met up with 4 Danish guests from a neighbouring reserve who had been in safari tents which had been washed away by the torrents of water that rushed through. They unfortunately lost almost all their luggage. So all the luggage you see in the pictures is ours!

Seeing the chopper come over the rise was like a scene out of the movies.

Knowing that it was coming to get us out of dodge was the craziest feeling.

Mr. T. turned to me and said ” It kind of feels like we are refugees!”. Oh goodness. Never in a million years did I think we would need an army airlift out of the African bush!!

They touched down and with little fanfare we loaded into the Puma Helicopter.

From the air we got a perspective of some of the localized flooding.

We also got to have a perspective of how huge the Kruger Park and neighbouring reserves are – as far as the eye could see there was bush. It was incredible. I must say I was scouring the bush from the air for a last glimpse of an elephant!! After a quick 10 minute ride courtesy of the South African Army, we touched down at a nearby Military base.

Mr. T. signed us into the army base (uh…insert another surreal moment – being signed into an army base?!?!?)

and after some confusion of who we were and where we had we come from (insert scary moments) we hopped on the van with the Danish guests on the way to a bed and breakfast – with no reservations (it’s now 5 pm and this was the only hope for the night!).

Mr. T. got us booked into their last room of the night and with God’s grace the B&B had a car rental on site – with one little car available for us in the morning! So with the usual African delays in the morning (read: the car had to go get the wheels balanced!) we were off headed back to Jo’burg, in a much smaller vehicle than we had came in!

I must say that through both cyclones God has protected us and given us a peace that passes understanding during a very confusing and unsettling experience. You’re in a different place, far from home and at the mercy of others looking out for your safety.

Reflections on the Rain

Reflecting on this from the warmth of my couch at home I can say I wanted everything to be so perfect. I wanted to take award winning pictures (lol) and have crazy lion-licking-toes stories. But isn’t that how we often want life to go? We want the sunshiny days, but please hold off on the floods, thanks! We’d rather not endure the rain if we can avoid it. We don’t want to be tested in our grace and patience, thanks very much, especially when I have elephants to see! Ahhh, but that’s exactly when the rain comes to come set us straight. That need to have everything go so perfect gets tested and how you react to it determines what you will learn from the moment.

It’s not about having the perfect moment or experience but growing our grace and practicing our patience. We make plans and dream of how it will all unfold and when it doesn’t it can be devastating. But I’ll tell you what the rain, literally and figuratively, has taught me.

It’s taught me to not let the failed expectation over shadow the whole experience – there were fantastic moments at the lodge, adventures Mr. T and I had that we couldn’t have had anywhere else. It’s taught me to wait for the rainbow after the rain. For us that came in the form of our free chopper ride to safety! Mr. T. did make a point when he said: “A chopper ride to see the glaciers on an Alaskan cruise is well over $600 a person!”

Sure, it didn’t go the way we wanted but Mr. T. and I got to exercise our grace in a bigger way and demonstrate patience with the wonderful people who took such great care of us.

Thankful for our safety,

 

 

 

2 Cyclones and still happily married!

Hello friends, sorry it has been awhile since the last installment from our South African adventure. Internet connections are hard to come by in Africa! We have been home for a few weeks now but many of you have been asking about our last adventures.

Heads up: grab a coffee for this post and hold on to your seats, this is going to be a heck of a story. I was hoping that the next post in our African adventure was going to bring you fantastic wildlife shots and stories of surveying the African bush….but there is in fact a very different story to tell!

I’ve decided to do this story in installments because a) it keeps you hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for the next installment and b) it is just that long!

Very early on the Tuesday morning  of January 17, we headed out for our once in a lifetime Big 5 safari. We held great expectations for the next four days: Seeing the Big 5 up close and personal, staying at a private game lodge. This was going to be a dream come true!

I should at this point let you know that we drove ourselves 6 hours by car from Johannesburg, in my uncles’ SUV that he graciously lent to us for this excursion. Driving through the mountain passes we experienced some pretty heavy rain, but as is typical in Africa it was heavy at times and then cleared pretty quick. So, on we went.

We arrived at the lodge at lunch time and were greeted by the owners who let us know that we were the only two guests in camp, and welcome to your very own private game experience. “Wow!” we thought, “we are truly in for a treat.”

At about 3:00pm, our Ranger said that the scheduled afternoon game drive would have to be postponed as the rain had now increased and off roading in the bush would get us stuck in the mud that once were dirt roads. My heart sank. That’s too bad, but oh well we have three more days.

After a lovely dinner, we headed to bed.

By this point the pathway to our chalet was a small river, and shoes were pointless. Let me tell you, the rain poured and poured that night like I have only ever heard once before: on our Honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands! Which brings me to the title of this post: Mr. T. and I were experiencing our second cyclone of our marriage, in our second year of being married.

A quick aside to fill you in: Our second week of honeymoon was spent on a 50 foot catamaran, sailing the British Virgin Islands, sounds glorious doesn’t it? Well, three days in and Subtropical Cyclone Otto was bearing down on us sending us scurrying to the nearest hotel for cover for the night. We spent the night listening to gale force winds tear at the roof with rain lashing at the sliding door. In the morning there was a Jacuzzi on the floor where there was previously tile. My nerves were shattered.

Fast forward to this Tuesday night and we have the same scenario repeating itself. Only know I’m concerned that I’m going to see lions and rhino’s float past my sliding glass door in a second. Oh did I forget to mention the SLIDING DOOR DID NOT LOCK?!?!?

We woke up at 5:30 am Wednesday morning with Cyclone Dando pelting us with sheets of water that did not stop all day. Notice the cactus leaning over precariously? The ground was too saturated to hold it up anymore!

I cannot tell you the irony of the whole situation being a carbon copy of what we endured in the BVI. Here is a bullet point list of the similarities:

  • The Kruger National Park region received 480 mm of rain in 30 hrs. That’s the entire rain fall for the year! During our BVI experience, they had more rain fall in 3 days than had EVER been recorded in Tortola (the capital) since they began recording the weather there.
  • Hoedspruit (the closest town to our lodge) was declared a National Disaster Zone and we had reports of the South African army airlifting people on rural farms to safety. The BVI declared a State of Emergency during Cyclone Otto.
  • During both experiences power had been cut off due to the storm. Which means no communication as to what it is you are dealing with, i.e. what kind of storm is this? Is this passing over you? Is it going to stop, how urgently do we need to evacuate?
  • At both places where we stayed the common areas (which is open air) were flooded and incredible amounts of debri and mud covered the living and dining rooms. The staff at the game lodge got up at 5:00am and began shoveling mud out.
  • Both cyclones we have been through have been record setting in their regions, both in rainfall and in damage sustained.
  • During both storms we have been fortunate enough to be on the outskirts of the eye of the storm, and have only experienced the flooding caused by them.

So our Wednesday was spent with squeegees and brooms in hand helping the lodge staff manage the deluge as best we could.

Using rocks to diverge tributaries, we battled the water for over 10 hours. We heard reports over the bush radio that all access in and out of the entire game reserve was cut off. Entire roads had been washed away, leaving gaping 15 meter wide and 4 meter deep chasms with raging waters in their place.

 

We weren’t going anywhere for a while! Let alone in my uncles’ SUV!

Thursday morning, with the rain having stopped, we attempted our first “bumble around” in the land Cruiser to assess the damage in the area and “try” to see some game we had originally come for!

I tell you what, that ride was intense! We got stuck in the mud and had to dig ourselves out of extremely sloppy mud using rocks and tree branches under the wheels.

When we did get going our ranger “put foot” and hurtled that cruiser through the single track bush trail at about 65km/h just so we didn’t get stuck again! Our poor tracker Eddie, sitting on the front of the cruiser was bouncing so much he looked like he was on a trampoline! It was all Mr. T. and I could do to look at each other with eyes as wide as saucers and hold on and stay in the vehicle. Mr. T. likened it to racing a Ferrari – only this was in the bush!

We did see a couple giraffe (the lovely lady giraffe at the beginning of this post was one of them) and some buck, but that was about all.

Back at camp lunch was served in the hide and the chirps could be heard once more from the insects and birds coming out of hiding.

This little guy is a Red Billed Hornbill and he was extremely brave and hung out with us for a good 20 minutes.

Our lodge hosts then came to give us the good and bad news. I hate that, cause quite honestly is there really any “good” news in a situation like this – just give it to me straight! The low down was this: they were running out of food (nothing was coming in remember) and the fuel supply that was keeping the generators going was down to the last 40 litres. The good news… We can arrange for an Army Airlift by helicopter for you, but we have no idea when that will be: today (being Thursday), Friday or Saturday.

With that we will pause the story for today. Tune in on Monday for the next installment of our adventure in the soggy bush. The Great Escape!

Stay dry friends!

 

 

 

The Wild Coast ~ A beach retreat

After our first action packed days in Cape Town we jet setted off to East London, a hop skip and a jump up the coast.

My Aunt has a beach house in a secluded part of the Wild Coast called Haga Haga where we joined a good portion of my extended family for some relaxing days on the beach and had some serious down time.

Upon arrival, I took Mr. T. out to the “Cubby Hole”, the lookout in the back garden that overlooks the ocean.

He turned  to me and said: “We’re here for 5 days, right?!”, to which I said “Yup!”. Ahhh…I could hear him start to unwind already. This is his kind of vacation. Do nothing and chill. A reprive from the heavy sightseeing schedule of the previous few days in Cape Town!

Very rustic and down to earth, the house accommodated all ten of us with ease. Meals were amazing and homecooked over open flame most of the time. Some by choice, some not. As it turns out on our evening to cook (we all took turns with meal duty) the power had been out for the entire day and we ended up having to cook our roast over the “braai” – South African for BBQ! In a classic case of “this is Africa” the power went out at 9:00am and was only sorted out and back on at 11:05pm!! We took it in stride and made steaks out of the roast and we all had fun with it!

It was the perfect five days of hanging with family. We even got in a round of golf that was more like hiking.

Mr.T. had to haul our golf clubs through thickets of forests and ravines (in 28 celcius weather!)

Of course we rode in the back of the “bakkie” (truck) as is customary in South Africa, much to Mr. T’s skepticsm

One morning we got to enjoy dolphins while sipping morning coffee from the beach lookout. This shot is to show you how close they were to the waves.

They were fascinating to watch as they worked as a group to feed.

Constantly working in a circle, they would surround they fish and swim closer and closer to catch their breakfast.

What an amazing way to start the day!

Our agenda for the week included lots of lazy days under the beach umbrella and playing in the Indian Ocean. This is the merry tribe making our way to a secluded swimming beach for the morning.

 

 

The rocks along the coastline are really interesting. Over time they all seem to have very weathered with distinct striations in perfect straight lines.

When the tide came in we would have to move camp, and this is how Mr. T. would move everything without getting burnt along the way!

We spent hours explore the countless rock pools right on our doorstep.

All in all it was amazing family time in a serene unspoiled setting.

We all left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready for the next adventure which took us up the coast for a week in Durban!

 

 

 

A New Year ~ Welcome to 2012


New years day. The start of something fresh. Endless possibilities ahead. One can’t help but dream of all the things you will accomplish in the coming months.

I realize we are over a week into the New Year, but here In Africa internet can be hit and miss, so this post has been delayed ~ Sorry!

For Mr. T. and I our year started with ticking off one of the official New 7 Wonders of Nature: Table Mountain! This title, recently bestowed, is fitting for the iconic flat topped mountain that is the backdrop to every worthwhile picture of Cape Town.

There are a number of ways to ascend the mountain, including various hiking routes of varying degrees.

If you’re not too concerned whether or not you see the year through you can climb the sheer cliff like these guys (look closely at the blue and red specks on the cliffs!):

Or hike up through this canyon. Which takes the better part of the day just to get up.

Mr. T. and I took the 10 minute ride in this:

The Aerial cable car that has been taking fascinated tourists up the mountain since 1929. Although back in those days it wasn’t sponsored by Visa. When I was younger we went up the mountain with my parents and this is the car that took us then:


Here is Cedric the gnome with his ticket:


Unfortunately, one can plan everything except the weather and as is quite common with table Mountain there was a “table cloth” of cloud covering the top, which hampered our view. Nonetheless we had a splendid time enjoying the diverse flora and fauna on top of the mountain.

The wild Watsonias grow in abundance

These little guys are called Dassies. They scurry in and out of the rocks and are quite adorable.

Mr. T. and I enjoying the edge of the cliffs..gets your adrenalin going in some spots!

Yes, That’s the city below me!

Our next stop was the Rhodes Memorial.

Dedicated to Cecil John Rhodes, a colonist who left his mark on the early South African political and economic landscape with such feats as starting the De Beers Corporation. Constantly wanting to further the British Empire, Rhodes dreamt having a railroad from Cairo to the Cape that would run through nations all under British rule. This dream fell short by only a handful of countries never under British rule. There are 49 steps leading to the top of the memorial, one for each year of his life.

Our New Years Day was topped off with a little bit of South African Culture.

Mango Groove was the hottest group back in the 90’s here in South Africa and I remember listening to their stuff on the radio lots. Well I thought what better way to get Mr. T. immersed into the culture than a bit of South African music. Playing at the stunning Kirstenbosch gardens under the African sunset we enjoyed a picnic while grooving to the sweet sounds of penny whistle and some true African sounds.

By the end of it we were all up with the entire crowd getting into it. Here’s Mr. T. and my cousin groovin’ away!

What a wonderful start to the year!

 

 

New Years Eve in Cape Town

New Years Eve was our third day in Cape Town and we had a check list of places we wanted to tick off the list before we rang in the New Year.

Taking the famous Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain was at the top of the list, so off we dashed bright and early. Arriving at the cable car we saw a mass line up that was not moving…oh dear, not a good start. We parked the car and were nearly blown off the side of the mountain.

Well as it turns out they were shut down until the afternoon due to high winds, and for good reasons – those cable cars would have been doing full rotations around the cable had they been running.

Cedric the Gnome kept being blown off his perch when taking his picture with the city in the background!

Well, with this hiccup in the plan we decided to take a drive over to Signal Hill. Offering similar stunning views, Signal Hill gives a great vantage point for the whole city.

We had a great view of the World Cup Soccer Stadium.

After admiring the city from above we stepped back in time for a visit to the Castle, the site of the first settlement at the Cape. In 1666 the Dutch East Company felt it would be prudent to build a fort to protect themselves and their interests at the Cape of Good Hope from the British. 

Interesting to note that the Castle was built right at the waterfront, however today it stands about 10 blocks back from the water due to reclaimed land and development into the harbor.

Exploring this type of historical site is just up Mr. T’s alley, and we were quite pleased to know there was a tour starting within 15 minutes of us arriving. Mr. T’s first request: can we please go with the English group?!? Haha! A quick aside: he has been fully immersed into Afrikaans since arriving as my Aunt Caroline (who we are staying with in Cape Town) often switches between English and Afrikaans within a conversation. I must say he is picking up the lingo quite well as we go!

We started off with the firing of this little cannon. Don’t let it’s size fool you! I blocked my ears and still had them ringing for at least 20 minutes afterwards. So for me it didn’t matter whether the tour was in English or Afrikaans, I couldn’t hear a thing!

Having a walk around this significant historic site was a great reference point for how The Cape, and more over, South Africa got settled.  Much of our history reflects back to the Cape being a refreshing station for ships on their way from Europe to the East on the trading routes.

After our history lesson for the day we picked up my cousin from the airport and headed to Blouberg (in English: Blue Mountain) beach for a late lunch. We were told to eat at Moyo’s a fun authentic South African restaurant on the beach.

With some GPS challenges, we finally found it and gosh we were glad we persevered!!!

The patio “chairs” and “tables” were surfboards and underneath was a wading pool that was calf deep! So AMAZING! What a way to cool down after a hot drive in the car. Honestly that was the best.

With views of Table mountain behind us and authentic South African fare on the menu life couldn’t get better! We sampled Springbok Carpaccio ( thinly sliced raw buck meat) – so flavourful and tender. Mr. T. was weary at first about eating raw meat in Africa but he loved it when it came, and we lived to tell you the tale about it :)

 

My cousin Serena ordered fresh oysters that were caught that morning.

Mr. T. and I were trying to think of an equivalent restaurant theme that would work in Canada – the closest we could come up with was sitting on snowboards with snow underfoot. Somehow it’s not that appealing and we didn’t think the concept would fly so well!

The New Year was rung in on the beach with fireworks and stars over head. A stark contrast to the cold and chilly New Years’ celebrations back in Canada!

Happy New Years Friends. May you be blessed in 2012!