South Africa trip :: 2014

3 December 2014




























We recently got back from our awesome holiday in Cape Town.  It really was amazing but so totally different now that we have a baby.  Jack was so good on the plane, gosh I was so anxious about the flight but needn't have worried.  As soon as the lights were dimmed for take off he happily went off to sleep.  Thank goodness for night flights!

As soon as we started to fly over Cape Town and I could see the buildings, the roads and the beautiful mountains by heart just swelled with pride and a sense of being home.  I love that feeling.  The sunshine, the blue skies and the vibe that Cape Town oozes just makes me breathe out a huge sigh of relief of "I am home".  It;s like walking in the door after a long day at work and collapsing on your couch with a cup of tea or crawling into your own comfy bed after being away.

Every time we drove somewhere and I saw the mountain ahead of us I just couldn't help but stop and stare - gawd I sound like such a tourist but because I live away from all of it, when we visit it really takes my breath away.  Anyways, we had such a fun time but phew it is hectic with fitting in friends, family and then relaxing and finding time to do what we want to do.  And I won't lie at times we found it all a bit too much so we have to work on the whole balance thing!  But at the end of the day we had a happy time and that is all that matters.

Highlights include spending time with my precious family, taking Jack to the beach for the first time, eating lots of yummy food, a picnic at Kirstenbosch, seeing my very special friends (and we didn't take any photos with them - I am rubbish!!), having a massage at the beautiful Vineyard Spa, visiting Vergelegen Wine Farm, going for early morning walks with my mom and the dogs and just enjoying and soaking up the sunshine.

This holiday has made us realise (even more) how very rad Cape Town is and what a beautiful place it is to live.  We have asked so many people their thoughts on moving back there and yes we are still seriously considering it. We still have a lot to work out and think about but life is short. And we are young and so is Jack.  So this would be the perfect time to do it.

We went out for lunch on our last day and I saw a poster that said "Go on, please go do that thing you have always wanted to do".  It really struck a chord for me.  For almost ten years I have been in the UK and not one day goes by where I don't have a yearning to go back.  And it has become even stronger since Jack has arrived. I understand many of you think that this yearning is normal and will start to fade eventually and that I am yearning for something that might not be there anymore but I just can't shake this feeling that Cape Town is where we belong.

So lets see what happens.  You never know, it might turn into nothing but it might mean that this time next year we will be living in the most beautiful city in the world.  Home.

♥♥♥


Jack: 10 months

1 December 2014





Wow, another month, another blog post about our gorgeous babe.  10 whole months old.  A bit late as we were on holiday when Jack was 10 months - these photos were taken on my moms lawn in the beautiful sunshine.  I had some fading flowers from a friend which I used to faff and created these shots.  

Jack has really developed in leaps and bounds this past month.  Some of the things he loves to do:

- clap hands (this is very recent and if he doesnt clap he waves his arms frantically!)
- crawling at a SUPER speed everywhere
- walking with his favourite v-tech walker (best purchase after the ergo)
- giggling at the cats and pulling Tom's tail
- loves Ella's Kitchen pouches
- settling in at nursery (what a relief!)
- starting to give us things, it really is so sweet!
- taking his socks off
- LOTS of chatting!

We finished our first term at Water Babies, those classes are money well spent but I am not sure we can afford to carry on and there is nothing stopping us going to the swimming pool at the leisure centre down the road.  But a part of me also thinks we should carry on until he learns to swim.  We will see.

Jack is also a lot more settled and confident with other people now, I think this is thanks to nursery.  Hopefully while in South Africa (I am writing this the night before we fly) he will be happy and not too clingy!  When we get back from South Africa I am going to start bottlefeeding - its been a happy 10 months of breastfeeding but I feel it is time to stop now.  Plus Jack starts 3 full days at nursery in January when I go back to work and needs to be able to take a bottle when he is there.

As each day passes and Jack shows us something else he has learnt and his fun and bubbly personality shines through our heart overflows with love for this little bug.  He is our world and we cannot imagine life without him.  I often wonder what we did with all our time before he arrived.  And sometimes I know I wish I had more time to myself so I could do things I want to do but in reality when Jack goes to nursery on a Tuesday and Thursday morning I cannot wait to collect him at 1pm.  I mean, don't get me wrong it is awesome to get stuff done and go out in the car without worrying about taking the whole of the kitchen sink with me but I miss him for those 5 hours.

Happy 10 months Jack.  You are awesome and we love you to the moon and back.

♥♥♥

Plum Cake

5 November 2014






While I was in Ireland last week I received an email from Baking Mad offering to send me some goodies so I could bake up a storm.  I was obviously more than happy to oblige.  On my arrival home I was welcomed to an awesome parcel filled with Allinson flour, Billington sugars, the BEST vanilla extract by Nielsen Massey and an apron.

I searched the Baking Mad website for an autumnal recipe - I struggled to choose one, if I had the time I would bake a LOT more to share with you but I chose this delicious plum cake which is perfect as a tea time treat or as a pudding.  So while Jack was at nursery I put on my apron and enjoyed some baking.  It is so soothing for the soul and it was lovely to do it in peace too!

Plum Cake
Makes 12-16 squares

Ingredients
175g butter, melted
175g golden caster sugar
1 tspn almond extract (I used vanilla & it was still YUMMY!)
3 eggs, separated
175g self raising flour
350g plums, stoned and halved

Method

* Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (170 on a fan) and grease and line a baking tin (18 x 26cm)
* Whisk the melted butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
* Add the almond (or vanilla) extract and add the egg yolks one at a time.
* Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gradually fold into the mixture alternately with the flour.
* Spoon into the tin and arrange the plum halves on top, skin side down.
* Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.
* Remove from the tin and allow to cool.  Sprinkle some icing sugar on top and enjoy warm with custard or with a cup of tea.

The fluffy egg whites make this cake light and moist and utterly divine.  I have already had a huge slice with a cup of tea and a drizzle of custard.  I will definitely be having more tonight for pudding!

These are some other yummy recipes that you could try too, like these divine chocolate brownies, this autumnal pudding or how about some focaccia or cheese & sweet potato pasties?

Thanks to the Baking Mad team for the goodies, I will definitely be doing some more baking this week!

Happy Wednesday!

Jack: 9 months

14 October 2014








I know I say it every month but as each month passes time seems to speed up. I can't believe our little baby is now 9 months old. I genuinely feel quite sad that he is not a babe anymore. He moves, wriggles, claps, dances, crawls and cruises. Jack is growing into a little person of his own and his personality shines through more and more everyday.  By the show of photos in this post you may have noticed that I cannot do the whole sitting him on the chair with the blackboard anymore.  I tried but he literally did a forward somersault off the chair and was caught by me just in time so it will have to be cute nap time photos or action photos instead. 

I won't lie - this whole moving around thing is a whole new ball game and wow it's super tiring but it's such fun at the same time. He can really crawl quite fast and pull himself up on things (or me!) in a flash.  You cannot leave him for a second because whatever he gets his eye on he will get into. Everything in our house has moved up by at least a metre - I said to Mani we should just pack up our house for a few years and live in a non-breakable shell!

This past month Jack has been teething like nobody's business which has been tough on us. Sleep is not a regular occurrence (day or night) and eating has also not been that great. But he does love cold cucumber sticks, rice cakes and pasta and is getting is appetite back everyday.

Nursery is not so much of a hit either but it has to be done and it is getting easier. I love having two mornings a week to myself to clean,cook, bake, potter and have coffee with friends.  And just as I write this, I have picked him up from his 4th session and he ate there and fell asleep.  WAHOO!

Now the weather is getting considerably colder it is sometimes hard to get out the house but we go out everyday and get some fresh air. It's a must in my opinion otherwise I will go stir crazy.  The best buy hands down for us has been our ergobaby - Jack lives in it some days especially if he is having a bad day and wants lots of cuddles. It means I can get on with chores and also no faffing with the pram if I just need to pop to the shops. It's also going to be a godsend when we go to Ireland and South Africa. Money well spent.

Jack loves musical toys and anything that he can shake or rattle. He loves to stand and cruise along our couches or the beds. He giggles at the cats and loves to look outside especially when it's raining.  Singing Old MacDonald to him always calms him down and he still loves swimming and having his baths.

With everyday that passes we notice something else he can do or has learnt, it is crazy how quickly Jack learns things and we love him SO much.  Here is to making the last two months of 2014 awesome.

Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Cake

4 October 2014




Fancy something a bit special?  Then this is just perfect.  I love chocolate mousse but its quite a faff to make sometimes don't you think?  Especially as I don't have an electric whisk or anything like that.  But I tried this anyways, and I beat the egg whites and cream by hand (with the help of the hubby when I felt my arm was going to fall off).  It didn't take as long as I thought but phew it was hard work.  I think if you had the gadgets to do this, then it would turn out thicker, mine did get thick but as soon as I took it out the fridge it got soft quite quickly.

It is indulgent, tastes divine and looks impressive.  Give it a go!

Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Cake
Original recipe here.

For the base:
100g dark chocolate
100g butter
1 tablespoon syrup
200g hob nobs (I used digestives and they worked perfectly)

For the mousse:
100g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
4 eggs, separated
300ml whipping cream
300g raspberries (2 x punnets)

For the base, melt the chocolate, butter and syrup over a low heat or in the microwave.
Crush the biscuits until they reach crumb consistency and combine the two and spread over the base of a 23cm springform tin.  Refrigerate for about an hour to set.

For the mousse, melt the dark and milk chocolate together (either over a low heat on the stove or in the microwave) and allow to cool until lukewarm.  Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and softly whip the cream in another bowl until thickened but not as far as stiff peaks.

Stir the egg yolks into the chocolate then beat the cream into the mixture. Gently fold in the egg whites so not to lose the air and spread over the biscuit base and set overnight.

Release from the tin once set and decorate with raspberries.

Enjoy with friends or family.


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