Lessons from a friend

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the person you’re the closest to?

I am fortunate to have found such a good friend, a friend that makes time for me in her busy schedule. A friend that genuinely wants to celebrate with me and lets me cry on her shoulder when I am down. A friend that is willing to look past my many imperfections and focus only on the positive side of me. A friend who will willingly give up her precious time to throw me a pity party.

I have a friend who I can laugh with, dance with, joke with, giggle with, cry with, sigh with, roll my eyes with, share my interests with, play dress up with, learn from, give advice to. I have a friend that allows me to befriend her. We share our secrets and our gossip, we share our fears and our excitement. There are no boundaries in our conversations, we pick a backdrop and find ourselves opening up to each other. I have a friend who knows me and wants to learn more about me and I her. A friend who always goes the extra mile when it comes to gifts, ensuring that they are always thoughtful and meaningful. I have a friend who will stand by me no matter what but at the same time knows how to offer me advice when I go astray. Distance and time are not a factor for our friendship, we make it work. We stay connected. We are able to play, cry, laugh, love, live together even when we are worlds apart.

I am so blessed to have a friend that I can always count on and not fear judgement or misunderstanding. A friend who encourages me to be a better person but will not judge me if I am not that better person. A friend that lets me in on her secrets, fears, loves, hates, humour. A friend who shares and opens her world to me as well.

This friend has taught me humility, honesty, loyalty, kindness, forgiveness, courage, determination, love and respect. I will forever be indebted to this friend. My journey would not have been the same without this friend. Thank you friend for all that you have taught me and for all the times you have allowed me to be your friend too.

Finding my happiness in 2014

“Stop comparing yourself to the media measuring stick”. Sound and simple advice from Kristine Carslon, author of “Don’t sweat the small stuff for women”. How many times have I flipped through pages of magazines and online magazines, staring at bodies and women who are supposedly perfect?

How many times do I let myself start thinking of all my imperfections and bash myself over the head with the proverbial media measuring stick and every time, the victim that gets hurt by all of this is my precious self-esteem that seems to yo-yo with the expectations of media.

I am an ordinary woman with extraordinary expectations. I am my own worst critic and can be own worst enemy. I often forget to look back at where I have come from and congratulate myself for where I am now. Well 2014 is going to be different. This is the year for me to discover myself and become my biggest supporter and best friend to myself.

Motivational Quotes @DavidRoads reminded me that “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.” My thoughts in 2013 took hold of my confidence and like a snake squeezing its prey; my happiness fell to a low comparable to my all-time low in 2007/8.  It was social media and the ocean that salvaged my heart and helped me back on my feet. I am ready to face the world again, but this time I have a few secret weapons on my side.

  1. I have a loving partner who cares for me, loves me, makes me laugh and laughs with me, makes me cry, takes his time to try to understand me, is willing to push himself to better our future. He is patient, he is kind, and he has a childlike kindred spirit with a huge heart. He is my companion in the worst of times and one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters in both the good and bad times. He is my rock but does not weigh me down, he wants to see me fly and will offer me his wings in order to see this happen. He holds me above the waves and hugs me in the cold. I am truly happy with him, he is my secret gatekeeper and I would not trade his belly and yellow crocs for anything!
  2. I have friends, real friends that I can call on at any time. A small group of people that I can share my happiness and sorrows with. Those that allow me the honour to share theirs. They trust in me as I in them. We have fun together, we set goals together, we help each other realise our dreams and congratulate each other when good things happen. My friends are my windows to the world; through them I am able to see the outside with varied lenses. They make me smile, they make me jealous and in an instant they send my jealousy packing with their laughs and hugs and willingness to accept me for who I am and not what the media wants me to be.
  3. I have social media. I am no longer afraid to open my world to strangers who can be the most endearing of all. Social media has opened up a world for me that I did not know existed. A parallel universe with new people, friends with common interests, common hates and love, willing to share and teach me new things I did not know and  willingly show online love. Some of these connections have turned into real life connections. I have found a happy place that I can express my thoughts and feelings and although being judged, in many respects, I am learning so much about myself and my dreams through an unfamiliar joyous tool that is quickly growing into a beloved universal tool.
  4. My hobbies are keeping me sane. I have fallen in love with my kitchen, my camera, my makeup, my computer, my writing, my books, my pilates studio, my yoga studio, my swimming pool, my family dining room table, my car, my hair, skin and nail salon, my neighborhood walks, my pets. Every day is another chance to express myself through activities that make me smile and calm my often-racing mind.
  5. I have my family and what a big family it is indeed. I have opened new paths to my sisters, my brother, my parents, my in-laws, my cousins, my aunts and uncles. I have allowed myself to be shown love and give love freely. An entire support network has started to flourish in ways I only saw in movies but now my reality resembles a world I can happily relate to, a group of people who offer unconditional love, a world of caring and support that is unrivaled.
  6. I have my health. I am no longer on sleeping tablets and my body is welcoming any form of exercise I offer it as well as healthy nutritious meals. My body is responding positively to caring thoughts and allowing me to experience so many things that were not possible in the past. My health is ready to evolve and my body is willing to go that extra mile for it. I am able to like myself in the mirror again and focus on my positive aspects, slowly but surely working towards a self-image that I am proud to stare back at in the mirror.

I have so much to be grateful for and so many things that make me happy. Now the challenge comes in maintaining a sustainable healthy attitude. Take the bad things and grow and learn from them, treasure the good things and let go of things that make me unhappy. It is time to let the fear go and the happiness in. It is time to be my unique self and love myself for it. 2014 will be a year of mindful relationships that will help me develop and start touching some of that extraordinary self I can often only dream of. It’s time to make happiness a reality!

Scrumptious Fresh Green Bean and Bacon Salad

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@Fresh_Living challenged me to make this amazingly scrumptious Green Bean and Bacon Salad for my husband yesterday via twitter. I was delighted to come across a salad recipe that my husband could get on board with. Just another reason why I love the twitter-verse, it has opened up my world in so many ways.

If you are anything like me, with a full time job and a home to run, looking for ingredients that are not readily available puts me off a recipe so I was delighted to see that I had the majority of the ingredients already. I asked the hubby to pick up some Halloumi on the way home and accepted the challenge gladly.

One of my 2014 goals that I have set is to spend more time with family and I have challenged myself to try and have at least one family meal a week, alternating between my husbands side of the family and my side of the family. The idea is to have them over for a quick, 1.5 hour meal that’s simple to make and easy to clean up. This was the perfect kind of recipe for just the occasion.

How did it go?

I was very impressed at how easily I was able to print the recipe and took out the bacon to defrost. It gave me the perfect excuse to use our new microwave and to christen our new orchid colour frying pan. Admittedly I had to look up what “blanch” meant to make sure I did it correctly and threw the green beans into a pot of water while I made the delicious simple to make home made sald dressing. I don’t enjoy Capers so I substituted the capers for soya sauce which was super yummy.

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I have never cooked Halloumi cheese before but it is surprisely simple, I just had to slice a few thick pieces, sprinkle with flour and fry in the bacon fat. OMG! So delicious that I was given strict instructions to make a double batch of Halloumi next time.

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I decided to add some mixed salad leaves to give the meal a more summer fresh look with some lightly dry fried red, green and yellow peppers. I like a recipe that I can add a little bit of my own flare to.

My husband and I are huge fans of the new Jamie Oliver 15 minute meals and the style in which he serves meals on large boards so out came the large serving board and the meal was ready. I did add jacket potatoes to the menu to add some sustenance.

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The family really enjoyed the meal, including my 12 year old sister who was begging for more halloumi. This will now be filed into my recipe book online as well as in the family favourites file. Very simple to make, quick to clean up and 9/10 for deliciousness. Thanks to @fresh_living for the challenge. Tonight I will be attempting the spicy chicken wrap. Next time you are not sure what to make for the family, pop over to the Pick N Pay site online and you will find some awesome simple recipes to inspire you, you can even look for recipes via ingredients. Happy cooking.

Organizing your delicates on a budget

I refuse to waste money on underwear draw organisers. Don’t get me wrong I love being organised and my “A” personality almost forces me to find ways to be organised but my more frugal side wants to use money for other things. I love trawling through Pinterest to find new ideas on how to creatively organise cupboards, draws, pantries, offices. As my husband can tell you, organising makes me smile and gets my blood going.

Problem

I can never find the underwear I am looking for and my underwear draw or shelf always looks like a small hurricane has run through it.

Solution

1. Buy underwear drawer organiser – No money

2. Just don’t wear underwear  – Just can’t bring myself to do this, a tad bit impracticable

3. Wear the dark underwear with the white pants when you have no time – Fashion faux pas of note

4. Make my own underwear organiser – here’s how

What you will need 

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  1. Scissors
  2. Toilet Roll Cardboard
  3. Wrapping paper
  4. Glue
  5. Old or new box lid

How to

  1. Cut your toilet roll in half with scissors
  2. Cut your wrapping paper into strips
  3. Smother the outside of the toilet roll with glue and roll into strip of paper
  4. Cut off loose ends and fold paper over edges
  5. Stuff the toilet roll with underwear
  6. Lay out rolls in box lid and voila – underwear organised!

I love budget friendly, eco friendly ideas that I can use to make my life just that little bit more simple. Please share your ideas with me, I would love to try them out.

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Simple Homemade Oreo Ice Cream

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A definite crowd pleaser. This amazingly delicious ice cream can be made without an ice cream maker and is so simple to do.

Ingredients

12 Oreo Cookies (Crushed)

500ml Whipping Cream

1 Can of Condensed Milk

4 tsp of Vanilla Essence

3 Egg Yolks

Method  

  1. Line a bread loaf tin with tinfoil with enough tinfoil to cover the top
  2. Whip the cream until soft peaks form – set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale and fluffy
  4. Add the condensed milk and vanilla essence to the egg yolks and mix
  5. Add the crushed oreos to the egg mixture
  6. Fold the whipped cream in with the egg mixture and ensure all the mixture has been folded through
  7. Pour the mixture into the tinfoil lined tin
  8. Cover the top of the mixture with foil
  9. Freeze for 6 hours
  10. Remove from foil and enjoy!

My Kiehl’s Graduation Party

A few months ago I was lucky enough to have been invited to the #JhbBloggerMeetup and part of the goodies that we received was a gorgeous travel size pack of goodies to try from Kiehl’s. I had heard so many good things about the brand but had never had the opportunity to try any of the products.

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Some time has passed and I have had the time to really give all the products a fair chance and tested them to see if they hold up to their claims. Before I jump into my review and give details on my Kiehl’s graduation party, I think its quite interesting to learn a bit about the brands history. You can check out Kiehl’s super interactive history timeline. In short, Kiehl’s has been around for donkey’s years and has grown into an amazing brand.

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So, back to the graduation party. Kiehl’s sponsored goody bags for the bloggers and I can honestly say they did not disappoint. I received a Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser; a Kiehl’s Creme de Corps;  a Kiehl’s Double Strength Visible Wrinkle Filler and a Kiehl’s Sunflower Color Preserving Conditioner in my goody bag as seen below.

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I started with the Creme de Corps and was impressed by the non-sticky lotion that left my hands feeling super moisturized without having to use a lot of the product and I didn’t need to reapply for quite some time.

Since I was in Grade 4 (back then, known as Standard 2) age 8, I have been searching for the best moisturiser.  As a child, I grew up without a Mommy in my formative years (she passed away when I was two) so I knew as much as “nothing” about grooming and even less about girly girl things.

Anyways, I mistakenly thought that if I wet my hands, they would magically be moisturized by the water. I only learnt that water actually dehydrates the skin when a teacher grew worried about me going to the bathroom all the time and eventually asked if something was wrong. I explained that I needed to moisturize my hands by running them under water and my teacher kindly smiled, looked down at my freckly face and handed me my first moisturizer, Aqueous lotion.

That night I went home to my Dad and asked for my very own tub of Aqueous cream. Ever since that day I have hunted for a fantastic moisturizer and I can honestly say that the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps all over body moisturizer lives up to all its promises and is definitely in my top three body moisturizers. Gently massage this cream onto dry areas and in 10 days, you will notice a tangible difference in skin texture. The only downside is that the cream is rather pricey for the South African market but if you have the money, it is well worth the spend. I was lucky enough to receive a few Kieh’ls goodies from my husband for Christmas and graduated from the smaller 30ml bottle to the 75ml bottle although the cream does come in many other sizes that are larger. This will remain on my birthday and christmas wishlist for many years to come.

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Next I tried the Ultra Facial Cleanser, “a gentle liquid formula that cleanses without over-drying or stripping skin”.  Anybody that has met me or stalked me would be able to vouch that I have an extremely delicate, fair skin which ultimately equates to being very sensitive. I was fortunate enough as a teenager that I did not suffer from any major acne problems but my skin does react to harsh products and I do tend to blemish quite easily.

I started my skin regime when my my now Mom (since I was 9) introduced me to the three step skin care regime. Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer to which I later added Sunblock. So I can safely state that I have tried my fair share of skin cleansers, from inexpensive starter brands, to the more well known brands that we have all come to love today. Over the years, I have usually equated a tight feeling after I washed my face as being a “clean” face. I have recently learnt in the last couple of years from skin specialists that this is not the case and if your cleanser gives you this result, chances are you are stripping away vital oils that are needed to keep your skin supple and moisturized. A balanced skin regime is vital to achieve a flawless skin. I have learnt that my skin is a combination skin and I have to carefully treat it with products that are not too harsh. I am happy to announce that Kiehl’s has quickly become my No.1 cleanser as it really does remove makeup if you let it sit on the skin for at least 60 seconds and leaves my skin feeling fresh and silky smoothe. This was at the top of my Christmas list and has become one of my must have skin products. I have graduated from the 30ml bottle to the 75ml bottle which is still a handy size for when I travel.

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Next was the Sunflower Color Preserving Conditioner. I still remember the days when I washed my hair with Apple Colgate Shampoo because that is all my Dad could afford and it was only when my Mom joined our family at the age of 9 that I learnt about the importance of conditioner. I quickly grew to love conditioners and as many people have, I have tried many conditioners. In my early years, I was constrained by my limited pocket money but as I grew up, so did my hair care range. The one thing that has not changed however, is my love for beautifully scented hair and I have always gravitated towards beautifully scented conditioners.  As @irinidoman stated, the smell of the Kiehl’s Sunflower Conditioner is absolutely mouth watering. When I close my eyes and inhale the smell, I can imagine myself in a field of Sunflowers and the best part is that the scent lasts for at least two days after you have used it. I have quite coarse fine hair so finding a conditioner that gently conditions and leaves the hair feeling light and silky has proven to be quite a challenge. The sunflower conditioner does exactly that. My husband unfortunately has not yet graduated me to the next level but believe me when I say that this is on my shopping list for when I run out of the 30ml bottle. The fact that I have managed to use this every wash without product build up since November proves that you do not need a huge amount for the product to be effective. I really put it to test at the coast after swimming in the ocean and it still worked just as well. A must for every gal!

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My husband took the initiative to spoil me to a new product. The Kiehl’s Lip Balm that has a SPF 4 and is one of my favourite flavours, vanilla. The balm does last quite a while and as it states, it “temporarily protects and helps relieve chapped or cracked lips”. A very useful product at the coast and a delightful smell. I can’t say that I wouldn’t use any other brands as I like to vary my lip balms but it is definitely up there with the best of them.

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I have quickly become an evangelist of the Kiehl’s brand and have recommended it to all my girlfriends and male friends too. I would say that it is probably in the mid-high end of the price range and I am super excited to try all the samples I received, the midnight eye recovery cream, the superbly restorative argan body lotion and the clearly corrective dark spot solution. Perhaps Cupid will send me my graduation gift and spoil me with a larger sunflower conditioner. Kiehl’s can be bought from Sandton and East Gate in South Africa. I urge you to to get a few samples and see for yourself, there is a reason this brand has been around for 160 years.

Till next time. xoxo

Eating on a Budget – Three Mince Meat Recipes

I was delighted to receive a message about @CheckersSA butchers bargain for lean beef mince for R38.99/kg usually R58.99/kg. BIG savings! Mincemeat is such a versatile ingredient. It is quite simple to prepare and if you make one batch of yummy mince, you can get three different delicious meals out of it. Considering I am cash strapped, like so many others,after the festive season, eating on a budget is a reality for myself and my husband during the month of January. Without compromising on taste or quality, it is still possible to enjoy yourself on budget.

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I have used my three meal mince recipe quite often. It is particularly good for a busy lifestyle when you dont want to be stuck cooking every evening for hours on end and don’t want to resort to the infamous take out menu draw.

Ground beef, beef mince, minced meat, hamburger is a ground meat made of beef, finely chopped by a meat grinder. It is used in many recipes including hamburgers and cottage pie. In some parts of the world, a meat grinder is called a mincer.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_mince.

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I am not an expert in the kitchen, but I do like to try new things and I am very blessed to have a husband who will always eat my mistakes afterwards. Sometimes, my husband and I will cook together and we find ways to work as a team. Creating something that we can both enjoy is quite satisfying and full of fun. One of the first meals I ever learnt to make was Garfields favourite meal- the infamous lasagne. An easy way to feed hungry students, I quickly became known as the lasagne queen in our group of friends. Not only is lasagne yummy, it is a fantastic meal to enjoy when drunk. I have shared my lasagne on many drunken occasions with girlfriends.

Once you have made mince, there are three easy meals that you can make with your mince namely:

  1. Lasagne
  2. Spaghetti Bolognaise
  3. Cottage Pie (Commonly known as Shephards Pie in Scottish circles)

To make the mince meat, you will need a large pot and big wooden spoon.

Ingredients 

500g – 750g Lean Beef Mince

3 Tbs of Cooking Oil

1 Chopped Onion*

2 Chopped Tomatoes *

*You can replace the fresh onion and tomatoes with canned tomato and onion mix

1 Carrot chopped

1 packet of Tomato paste

250ml of beef stock

5ml Oreganum (fresh or dried)

5ml Basil (fresh or dried)

5ml mustard powder or 1tsp of Dijon Mustard

5ml mixed herbs

2 Tbs Tomato Sauce

2  Tbs Chutney

1 Tbs Sweet and Sour Chilli Sauce

1 tsp Traditional Syrup (Optional)

5ml Freshly ground black pepper

5ml Salt

5ml Worcestershire Sauce

3 Bay leaves

Method of Madness

1. Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the carrots,  tomatoes and onions for about 5 minutes or until onions appear glossy. While you are frying the tomatoes and onions, boil 250ml of water and mix it with one beef stock cube. Set aside the beef stock.

2. Add the defrosted mince to the pot, broken up into pieces and brown for about 5 minutes

3. Add the beef stock to the pot and let the mince boil.

4. Add more water as you go to keep the meat saucy. As little or as much as you like.

5. Add the oreganum, basil, mustard, mixed herbs, black pepper, salt,tomato sauce, tomato paste, chutney, sweet chilli sauce, syrup, worcestershire sauce and bay leaves and mix.

6. Boil and let meat brown for about 30 – 40 minutes. Put your feet up and come and mix occasionally. Be sure to leave the pot lid off to prevent spillage.

7. Add salt or desired veggies to taste.

8. Remove the three bay leaves from teh pot before serving.

Day 1

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Measure 2 portions of spaghetti and place in separate pot of boiling water. Add salt to the water and a drizzle of oil to stop the spaghetti from sticking. Boil until done. The way to test spaghetti is to throw a piece of it on the wall, if it sticks, it is ready. Alternatively you taste it. Rinse the spaghetti with hot water to get rid of any starchy residue and taste. Serve with mince, add a bit of grate parmesan or cheese and voila. Meal 1 done.

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Day 2

Lasagne

You will need to make a white sauce that you will layer with the mince alternately in a glass dish.

To make the white sauce:

1oog butter

125ml Flour

500 – 750 ml milk (depends how runny you like your sauce)

125ml chedder cheese

5ml mustard powder

5ml paprika powder

5ml salt

  1. Melt the butter in a pot
  2. Add flour and mix with butter to make a roux
  3. Add the milk to your roux
  4. Bring to a boil
  5. Add the mustard powder, salt, paprika, cheese  and whisk to make a smoothe sauce

Layer a glass dish with hot white sauce, lasagne sheets, hot mince and lasagne sheets. Repeat this sequence and end with a thick a layer of white sauce and grated cheese. Let is stand for about 20 minutes.

Bake in an oven at 180 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.

Grill for 5 minutes to crisp the cheese. Voila, your day 2 meal is done.

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Day 3 

Cottage Pie 

You will need to peel and boil about 4 large potatoes. Once the potatoes are oiled to a point of mushiness, drain the water and mash the potatoes with 1/2 – 1 cup of milk, 1 Tbs of butter and salt to taste.

Layer a glass dish with mince and top with the mashed potatoe.

Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes. Grill for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are brown.

Voila, day three meal is done.

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Three meals for the price of one! Thats my kinda budget cooking!

Till next time. Xoxo