28 February 2011

Follow my blog with bloglovin

I am finally moving with the times and set up an account on Bloglovin - follow me if you'd like and I'll be sure to follow you back :)

Happy Monday!

27 February 2011

A Little Update & Awesome Giveaways

This weekend has been full of books, papers, more books and more papers, but I feel like I've accomplished a lot :)  It's nice to go into Monday not feeling like there's a huge mountain to tackle, which is often times the case for me.

Last night, Jurgen and I did take a little break from the books at about 10:30pm and decided to run down town to try and score some dessert at one of our favorite restaurants... and it was a success, most delicious chocolate mousse ever :)  Today it was back to studying, but tonight I am meeting up with a girlfriend to go see Black Swan (finally).  I've only heard good things about the movie so I'm excited to take a little break and enjoy some girl time.

In other news my little herb garden (also see here) has grown tremendously over the past few weeks and I am loving being able to use my own herbs when I cook and have also noticed a dip in my weekly grocery bill :) 

I also planted baby tomato seeds a couple weeks ago and they are starting to peek their little heads out :)

Before I go, I also just wanted to take a second to thank all of you who have been following this new little blog for your comments, support and willingness to read :)  Your comments really make my day and I also have come to love incorporating reading all of your fabulous blogs into my everyday routine... although I only started this blog about a month ago, I feel like I've known some of you forever!

Because you are all such awesome followers, I am going to give you the inside scoop on two great giveaways that are going on right now, one at Ashton's blog Soulshine and one at Megan's blog, Honey We're Home.

In honour of reaching 50 followers Ashton is giving away a $25 giftcard for J Crew (hello awesome) as well as a Journal from a new South Carolina-based company, Surcee Press.  If you haven't visited Ashton's blog before, I encourage you to head on over, she is a sweetheart and is one of my daily reads :)  She also happens to be one of my blog friends who I feel like I have been long time friends with.

Megan also has an amazing sponsor giveaway going on and is giving away a $50 credit to Stella & Dot.  I have only recently started following Megan's blog, but love her design style and fresh approach :)

Hop on over two these ladies' blogs to see how you can enter :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend, is staying warm and is enjoying their Sunday afternoon!


25 February 2011

Friday's Fancies #1

Today I'm linking up with {av} at Long Distance Loving for her weekly link-up Friday's Fancies!  For those of you who don't know, Friday's Fancies is a chance to dream up whatever outfit you'd like to be wearing on a Friday night if money were not an option.

Well, considering that I will be studying tonight, I am just dreaming of something cute, chic and comfortable (hey, who says you can't look cute while studying!?)  Without further adieu, here is my look for a weekend in the library...

In other exciting news, I won my first giveaway at Ashely's blog, A Hasty Life!  I will soon be the proud owner of this adorable Red Beaded Bow Applique Headband from The Bloomin' Boutique, thanks Ashley!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

23 February 2011

Pssst... Wanna Impress Your Hunny?

...Then make him this!

I tried this recipe last night and while I'm not really one for bacon, my hunny most definitely is and loved this dish.  It looks complicated, but actually doesn't take that long and is oh so delicious! 

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breast

Serves: 2 - 4
Time: 35 minutes

  • 400g  mushrooms, sliced (14 oz)
  • 20g  butter (1.5 tbsp)
  • 10ml  lemon juice (1 tbsp)
  • 4  boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 24  strips of bacon (I used lean)
  • 200g  mozzarella, cubed  (about 3/4 cup)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2. Saute the mushrooms in butter until soft and juices have reduced.  Season with a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
3. Place chicken breasts on a flat surface and cover (e.g. with a gallon plastic baggy) and bash until they are about 1/4in thick (I used an empty wine bottle).
4. On another flat surface or cutting board lay out bacon strips so that they are touching one another and are as wide as the chicken breast.  Place breast on top of bacon.  Spread cheese and mushrooms evenly across chicken.
5. Roll into a cylinder or wrap making sure that the bacon stays in place and wraps all the way around the breast.  Place into an oven safe dish and then repeat with the remaining three breasts.
6. Place the dish into the oven and then cook for about 25 minutes at 350 F.  Then, for an additional five minutes, turn the oven on grill to give the bacon some color.

And there you have it... simple as pie :)  I was worried that the bacon wouldn't want to stick to the chicken, etc, but it actually does quite easily and I didn't need to use toothpicks or anything to hold the wraps together.

Note: I got this recipe out of a small South African cooking magazine called Avocado.  Unfortunately they don't have a website, but if you are ever in the area you should pick up a copy ;)


22 February 2011

Virtual Coffee

It's Tuesday, which means it's time for Virtual Coffee!

If we were really meeting for coffee today I think I would go for a good old fashioned skinny cappucino, but it would have to have pretty design on top, just like the one up there :)  What would you order?

If we were really having coffee now I would tell you that I am oh so happy that the sun decided to show its pretty face in Johannesburg today.  It's been thunderstorming pretty badly here the past few days and this morning looked like it was going to no different, but the sun must have changed its mind and decided to come out and play.  How is the weather where you are... I know a lot of people on the east coast are getting fed up with the snow, so I hope the sun makes an appearance for you too soon!

If we were really having coffee I would tell you that (like last week) I'm pretty swamped right now.  Last week I was a little disapointed in myself because I only made it to the gym two times, rather than the four times that I had promised I would do.  But, this week I am doing better and I am also feeling better and have more energy like I always do when I make time for the gym :)  If we were really having coffee I would probably ask you about everything that you have on your plate now (which is probably a lot) and then ask how you balance everything, when you find time for the gym, etc.

I would ask you about your weekend plans, and would tell you that mine are pretty much booked out for research papers because I have one due the 15th of March and another due on the 16th neither of which I have started (fyi - I have turned procrastinating into an art).  But I would tell you that I have an appointment to get gel overlays for my nails on Saturday morning which I am REALLY excited about because it will prevent me from biting my nails like I currently do and because I don't think I've had nails put on since high school :)  I would also tell you that I'm really hoping to find somewhere to volunteer one morning or afternoon this weekend because one of my goals for this year is to volunteer somewhere once a month and I haven't yet been able to do it yet this month (ps where did the month go!?).  If we were really having coffee I would ask you if you set any new year's resolutions this year or if you have written down any goals for yourself.

If we were really meeting for coffee I would tell you that I have a lot of major decisions coming up this week... and they are not planned major decisions, but the kind that like to spring up unexpectedly when you just think that you've gotten comfortable.  If we were really meeting face to face, I would probably now proceed to give you all the juicy details, but since this is Virtual Coffee those juicy details will have to wait, but will definitely come with time as things become more definite and I can't wait to share more with you next week.

If we were really having coffee I would tell you that my Grandpa (see here and here and here) is getting better and stronger everyday, and it is looking like he will be able to start standing and walking really soon!  He is currently in a Rehab Hospital and the Therapists are apparently wonderful and have been working round the clock to make sure that he is getting the best care possible.  Thanks to all of you wonderful readers who have been sending prayers and good vibes his way over the last few weeks.

If we were really having coffee it would probably be almost time for me to get back to work, but I would first want to find out what's going on in your life and how things have been going for you since we met for coffee last Tuesday.  I would also want to make sure that you were available for coffee next week Tuesday so that I could write it down in my planner and have something to look forward to after the weekend!

20 February 2011

I Suggest...

Leigh over at Very Loveleigh published a great post on three things (products) she couldn't live without.  I thought it was such a lovely idea and it got me thinking about the three things I use the most on a daily basis and thus couldn't live without. 

So here they are in no particular order:

1. L'Oreal Professional Absolut Repair Masque is my one, big monthly splurge item.  My hair always feels shoft and shiny after I use it, it helps combat the damage my straightner does and it smells like banana :)

2. My lifestyle has turned me into a complete coffee addict and for the longest time I bought cappucinos every morning on the way to work.  After awhile I started adding up how much that was costing me per month, and turns out it was about 20% of my monthly disposable income (yikes!)... so I invested in this Russell Hobbs 3-in-1 Coffee Maker and can now get my morning caffiene fix without having to break the bank :)

3. I think I've had these Isotone Slippers for about two years now and they're still going strong.  They are so comfy and have to admit that they can be found on my feet at just about any given time when I'm at home.  I got mine at Target, but I'm sure that other stores stock them as well.

What are your three things???

PS - If you do a post on three things that you couldn't live without and then leave Leigh a comment here telling her that you did, you will be entered into her fabulous giveaway to win a Tyler Candle Company Paris Perfumed Candle... just a suggestion ;)


18 February 2011

Recipe: Red Velvet Cupcakes

This week turned out to be one of the most stressfull I have had in a long time (anyone else with me on this?) and I can genuinely say that I'm SO happy it's Friday!  Even though I still have to do a lot of work this weekend, I'm at least going to try and catch up (somewhat) on my Zzzz's so that I feel a little more prepared than I do now to tackle the week ahead. 

The one thing that I do have planned is to go and see Black Swan with a girlfriend tomorrow night.  Is it any good???  We get our movies a little later over here, so it was acutally just released to cinemas this week.  I'm also possibly looking to purchase a Blackberry.  I think it may be time for me to finally move with the times so I am going to the phone shop to check out the different contracts in the morning, before it turns into a zoo.  Any recommendations on what model I should get?, My boyfriend has the Storm now and absolutely hates it, but I heard they've now come out with the Torque (or something) that is supposed to be much better.  Anyways, any advice would be appreciated because, as you can probably tell, I am a little out of the loop with all of this :)

Before I go jump into my pjs, I just wanted to pass on a wonderful recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes that Joelle had posted on her blog - by the way, if you haven't checked out her blog yet, you should mosy on over there right after you copy this delicious recipe because it is adorable.  Anywho, I made these cupcakes last Sunday and then took them to work for Valentine's Day and they were a hit!  I totally recommend them, and they are not that difficult to make.

(This is how they turned out )

Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

You will need:
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
For the frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 - 18 minutes.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

And voila, you have yourself delicious Red Velvet Cupcakes :)

Happy Friday Everyone!


16 February 2011

A Little Bit More Than a Concert

The U2 Concert was uh-mazing!  They are such great performers, were on stage for a full couple of hours, played four of my favorite songs and basically just blew me away.  The vibe was awesome and the stadium was packed to full capacity (100,000 people), I think it's the second largest stadium in the world.  It's a pretty cool experience to be a part of something so huge.  Next on my list is Cold Play :)

As I revealed in this post, we had to use the public train system to get to the concert because the parking was sold out.  I was a little nervous because a lot of crime occurs on trains here as they are a cheap way of getting from point A to B. and normally so crowded that anyone carrying anything of any value on them can easily become a target.  However, I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the train system!  They had a specific train terminal segmented off for all U2 Concert goers, security was everywhere and the station itself was in tip-top shape due to the makeover it received last year for FIFA. :)

All in all it was a great experience and it ended up actually being a blessing in disguise since those who drove their own cars to the concert sat in hours of traffic both getting to and trying to leave the stadium.

Still, even aside from the great performance they put on, what I really appreciated, and what made it a little more than a concert, was that Bono used the stage as platform to educate the audience about atrocious human rights violations which are going on as we speak.  I was very moved when they dedicated an entire song to Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma as this country and its people are very near and dear to my heart.  I was fortunate enough to spend a short amount of time in the country in 2006 and if you would like to read about my experience you can do so here.  If you are not aware of Burma and what has been taking place there, particularly over the last couple of years, I encourage you to self-educate yourself, as the nation receives far too little media attention and  you are definitely not alone if you are unable to even locate it on a map or have never heard of it before.

Well, that is all for now, as I just looked at the clock and it is again past my bed time!  But, before I go I just wanted to sincerely thank all of you who joined me for virtual coffee yesterday and for your sweet comments and concern for my Grandpa.  I will continue to keep you all updated :)


15 February 2011

Virtual Coffee

It’s Tuesday which means Virtual Coffee!  I’m going to keep this coffee date short and sweet because if we were really meeting for coffee we would be meeting over my lunch break which I shouldn’t really even be taking since I’m so swamped at work.

If we were really meeting for coffee I think I would order a venti Frappacino since I: 1) need the caffeine and, 2) would want something nice and cold since it is summer here and it’s hot outside J
If we were really having coffee I would probably firstly vent to you about how swamped my life is right now.  I have three assignments due tomorrow night in class, all of which need to be done tonight, which means an all nighter for me.  I feel like my goal of leading a more balanced life this year is slowly being sucked out the window... but I guess that is just part of grad school.  I would then ask you how it is going in your life, what you have been up to, if you are also swamped at work and/or with assignment deadlines, etc.
If we were really having coffee I would ask you about your Valentine’s Day.  I would tell you that mine was very enjoyable and that I did end up driving out to where Jurgen is attending the conference like I was contemplating doing in this post.  I would tell you that Jurgen (being the sweet boyfriend that he is) made dinner reservations at a delicious Portuguese restaurant as per the recommendation of the owner of the guest house where he is staying.  The recommendation turned out to be an excellent one as the food was amazing, the atmosphere was great and there was even live music.
I would tell you that the U2 Concert on Sunday was even more amazing and was hands-down the best concert I’ve ever been to and promise you that I will post-pictures tomorrow.  Oh, and I would also tell you that the train ride to the concert that I was worried about in this post turned out to be a lot of fun and was a blessing in disguise because we didn’t have to deal with all of the traffic that those who drove their own cars did.  I would tell you that I will also post photos of our little “train adventure” tomorrow night.  I would ask you if you did anything fun over the weekend or if you have any exciting plans coming up.
Well, my lunch break is almost over, but while we were waiting for the bill I would tell you that my Grandpa's recovery is going great and that he has now been transferred from USC to a Rehab Hospital closer to home.  I would thank you for all your prayers and well wishes and tell you that I have a feeling that he is going to feel like a new person in a few weeks from now.  I would brag on him and tell you how proud I am of his progress and that I can’t wait to see him over the Christmas holiday.
Well, it’s time for me to get back to work and I’m sure that you are also on your way to work or class or something else important.  But, before we went our separate ways I would make sure that you were up for coffee again next Tuesday so that I would be able to look forward to chatting with you again soon. J
Hope everyone is having a great week!

Lots of love,

13 February 2011

A Delicious Little Valentine

Sorry that is has been awhile since I posted, but things have been so busy!  My birthday was wonderful and pretty relaxed this year since it fell on a Thursday and I had to be at work the next day.  Jurgen packed me a sweet little packed lunch full of goodies for work and surprised me by dropping off a cappucino and cupcakes :) 

We also had a lovely little work party and took a nice long lunch.  That night I decided not to have people over and instead we just went to one of my favorite restaurants here in Johannesburg and took a nice bottle of wine with.... I must say that it was the perfect way to turn 24. :)

It turns out that we had the dates wrong for the Rugby game and it's actually only next Saturday, which was a little bit of a downer at first, but actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise since I was so busy getting ready for Valentines Day yesterday and trying to get as much class work done as possible.  Today, however, is the U2 Concert and I cannot wait until this evening!  I will be sure and take lots of pics and let you know how it goes. 

We had a little hic-up this morning regarding parking because it is all sold out (as impossible as this may seem - you have to buy a parking ticket in advance), all the park-in-rides were also sold out and so the only option left was to buy train tickets which depart out of the city centre.  I had a minor break down at the ticket place because I don't want to be driving around the city centre at night (not a good idea), but the woman assured me that many concert go-ers had bought tickets and that it would be a fun "adventure."  We will see how it goes... this probably sounds really weird to anyone who hasn't travelled around SA yet, but trains are a no-go here... they are a cheap means of public transport and a lot of petty and not-so-petty theft/assualts occur on trains, so if you are ever here, don't take them.  But, this may be a good opportunity for me to ride on a train, since it is probably the only time I will be willing to in the near future and because it will probably be packed with other U2 concert-goers.  I will also be sure to take pictures and post about my train "adventure" too haha.

Anyways, the main reason I am posting now it because I wanted to share a very unique Valentine Recipe with you, which I tested yesterday and which came out wonderfully.  I know it is a little last minute, but you still have time to run to the store this morning and grab the ingredients... and believe me, it will be worth it!  It will also make for a great gift or treat for yourself for any occasion throughout the year, so even if you don't have time to make it for V-day, keep it in mind for the future!

Strawberry, Basil & Vanilla Syrup

This is a unique recipe I found in a South African cooking magazine.  The syrup is sooo delish and I have never tasted anything like it.  It is relatively easy to make and can be made into an adorable present by just pouring the final product into an empty glass bottle.  It's ideal for ice cream, gelatto, cocktails and (I haven't tried this yet), but I think it could also be nice drizzled over steak.

Here is the recipe:

750ml water (about 3 1/4 cups)
750ml sugar
Once handful fresh basil leaves - torn
200g fresh strewberries - hulled, i.e. top cut off, and halved (7 oz)
1 vanilla pod (can be found in the dried herb section of the grocery store)


Step 1: Place the water, sugar, basil and strawberries in a pot.  Then score the vanilla pod down the middle and with the end of your remove the vanilla seeds from the pod by scraping the inside of the pod.  Place the vanilla pod and seeds into the mixture and bring to a boil

Step 2: Simmer on a medium to high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until it reaches a sticky, but runny consistency.  Place the hot pot immediately into a sink of ice cold water to cool.  Strain into a clean steralised bowl.

Step 3: Pour final product into a clean, steralised bottle using a funnel.

And voila... there you have the final product!  I wanted to also attach a little v-day card with the recipe written on it, but am conveniently out of color ink at the moment.

Note:  I doubled the recipe to get the above amount... I also only used 3/4's of the recipe's sugar which made it a tad less sweet and little more runny.  If using as mainly a desset syrup, I would put the required amount in, but if using with steak, cocktails, or general use, I think it's nice a little runnier and a little less sweet. :)

Happy Sunday Everyone and Enjoy Valentine's Day Tomorrow!

Lots of Love,

09 February 2011

Recipe: Napolitana Pasta with Rocket

I tried this recipe on Monday night and I must say that it is one of the best tomato-based pastas I've ever had... Yes it's that good!  It's a light, fresh pasta that would go great with garlic bread and a nice glass of red wine... needless to say I highly recommend it!

Serves: 2
Time: 20 minutes

  • 20 ml olive oil  (about 1 1/2 Tbs)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed)
  • 15ml tomato paste (1 Tbs)
  • 6 medium-sized tomotos (chopped)
  • 200ml white wine (about 1 cup)
  • 80g rocket leaves (if you can't find this use a handful of aurgula or any other fancy lettuce of you choice)
  • Parmesean cheese to serve
  • 250g pasta (fettucine or tagliatelle works best)
  • Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion until translucent.  Then add the garlic, tomato paste and tomatos.  Cook off some of the juice (I drained a little into the sink) before adding the wine.  Simmer for another 15 minutes and season to taste.
  • Meanwhile, put the pasta on to boil.  Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot.  Add the napolitana sauce in the rocket leaves (or whatever lettuce you're using).  Serve with parmesan cheese.

I am going to love and leave you now because my sweetheart of a boyfriend has been busy cooking a surprise meal for dinner since my birthday is tomorrow... so cute.

Lots of Love,

08 February 2011

Virtual Coffee

Thanks for meeting me for coffee!  This is my first time doing this sort of post, but I hope that it will become part of my Tuesday routine in the future :)

If we were really meeting for coffee today I would add an extra shot of espresso to my order... either that or I would go for a soy Chai Tea Late at Starbucks since it is my favorite and I can't get it here.  What kind of coffee would you get if we were really meeting for coffee?

If we were really meeting for coffee I would tell you that I miss you dearly and wish we were having coffee face to face.  I would want to get a full update about what was going on in your life, because chances are I am way behind and I would want to catch up on everything that's happened since we last spoke.

I would tell you how relieved, happy and thankful I am that my Grandpa responded so well to his heart surgery and that he will most likely be moved from ICU to the general ward at USC today.  I would tell you that it's been really hard being so far away from family now, but that I have never been so thankful for skype and web cams :)

I would tell you that I am loving these afternoon thunderstorms here in Johannesburg, but that I really need to invest in rainboots!  I almost slipped about five times walking to class today because I was wearing flip flops in the pouring rain!  I would ask you how the weather is where you are and whether or not you are snowed in.  I would ask you what your plans are for Valentines Day :)  ... As for my V-day plans they are still up in the air because my Valentine will be at a conference an hour away from here and so I still need to decide whether I am going to drive out there to have dinner even though it's a work night... I'm pretty sure I will :)

If we were really meeting for coffee I would tell you that I am so excited for this weekend because it is the beginning of Rugby season and the Jurgenator and I, and a friend are going to our team's opening game.  I would also tell you that I am even more excited for the U2 concert on Sunday... I still can't believe they are touring in South Africa and that I was lucky enough to snag two of the late release tickets.  I would tell you that I can't wait to show you the pictures!  I would ask you about your weekend plans are and if you have anything exciting planned.

Thanks so much for meeting me for coffee... I hope we can do it again soon!

07 February 2011

Monday Madness

This week is going to be super busy and jam-packed, but I can't wait to get it started because it's my birthday week!  Yep... I'm turning the big 2-4 on Thursday!  With classes getting into full swing, getting settled into a new office, group projects and  a lot of reading assignments I'm not sure where I will fit in time to celebrate during the week, but I'm sure a celebration will squeeze its way in somewhere!

But more importantly, even with all that is going on this week, I am already counting down the days until the weekend because Saturday marks the beginning of Rugby season and me, Jurgen and one his work colleagues have tickets to go to the opening game for our team... Go Bulls!  It should be epic, and I will be sure to post pictures! 

Then, (it gets better), on Sunday we have tickets to go and see these guys live on their 360 tour:

I am still in disbelief that I was able to get tickets to see U2 live in Soweto!... They have been at the very top of my concert list for as long as I can remember and think it will be an unforgetable way to end the week and can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday :) 

Sorry that this post is so random and brief, but I am off to bed because I have to be awake again in six hours... blah, but I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend and feels ready to tackle the week ahead... or atleast has access to a lot of coffee :) ... I had three cups today and it worked wonders haha.

06 February 2011

Recipe: Mediterranean Chicken

Happy Sunday! 

Here is a lovely recipe I got out of a South African cooking magazine.  Since it cannot be found online, I thought I'd share it with you here :) 

Serves: 3 - 4
Time: 40 minutes

  • 8 chicken pieces
  • 30ml olive oil (2Tbs)
  • 100 ml white wine (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3ml paprika (about 2 tsp)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 courgettes, slice (equivalent of one large zucchini)
  • 1 large red bell peper, chopped
  • 100g olives (calamata)
  1. Preheat oven to grill (about 480 - 500 F)
  2. In a roasting dish, brown the chicken pieces on both sides until golden
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the olive oil, white wine, paprika, garlic and season well with salt and pepper
  4. Transfer the chicken to an oven proof serving dish, top with sliced zucchini, red pepper and olives.  Pour over the olive oil mixture.  Reduced oven temperature to 350 F and cook for 30 minutes, tossing twice during cooking
This recipe is nice for weeknights because it's sort of a full meal in itself and doesn't take very much effort to prepare.  I think if I make it again I will add in chopped potatos though, because it felt like something was missing, either that or it should be served with rice or baked potato or whatever starch of your choice.  I also think I'll double the sauce next time round because it's really tasty and it would have been nice to have a little extra to pour over the top at the end.


Moving Has Its Perks!

This Friday the little company that I work for moved offices... which meant a lot of sorting, filing, moving, organizing and re-organizing.  But, I will say that  now that the bulk of the furniture and equipment has been moved, it feels nice to be able to re-create a space where I spend 40 hours + a week.  I have used the move as an opportunity to try and spruce my workspace up a little bit, sort of an office face-lift if you will.  I want to make it a place where I feel comfortable and productive and motivated and positive and over the next few months I am hoping to add small things that will make my office more happy and inviting and more "me", if you know what I mean.

Anyways, we finished moving the bulk of the office equipment by about 2:00pm in the afternoon, and since the electricity won't be working until Monday we were allowed to leave early... YIPEE!  I decided to take advantage of my two extra hours by heading to the mall to pick up a few things for my new office space.  It all started out innocent enough... I bought a cute box of kleenex, some small vanilla-scented trash bags, a frame.  Then it turned into window shopping.. then you know what happens next... it was one of those things where everything you see is just the thing you've been looking for to go with that other things, etc... And I ended up with this:

1. A perfect work blazer from YDE
2. A necklace and a pair of earrings (that match the blazer) from Diva
3. Black mascara from The Body Shop (although I really truly needed this)

Oh well, I guess it all boils down to retail therapy and I really do love my purchases.  I also bought the most adorable and handy eco coffee mug at Woolworths:


I think the mug will come in quite handy because prior to buying it I didn't have anything to take coffee to work in, so I normally gulp my coffee down as I'm running out the door because I'm (nearly) always running late.  I got the green one with the pink band... too cute.
Friday night I didn't really do much of anything, Jurgen braaied (bbq'd) some delicious pork and steak kebabs and then we just chilled out and watched a movie.

Today, however, I was very productive.  Last weekend (as can be seen here), I went to a nearby Garden Centre and bought supplies to start my own herb garden.  Well being the amateur that I am, I bought four different herbs for one pot, which was too many.  So I went back to the Garden Centre this morning and got more pots and was also able to find rocket seedlings so I bought those too. 

While I was there I was sooo close to buying this guy... I mean who wouldn't?... Look at his hair!

I had already picked out a name and everything for him... Einstein, when I started thinking about all reasons that I actually wouldn't be able to keep him in my flat... oh well... someday!

After the Garden Centre, I went to yet another smaller Garden Centre/Nursery closer to my flat since the first one was out of tomato plants and/or seeds.  I had never been in it before, but was so pleasantly surprised to find out that it had sort of a Trader Joe's vibe to it and had the most beautiful selection of roses.

I bought a bouqet of the white ones for the equivalent of about $5 :)

To top the whole afternoon off I came home and (re-) planted my little herb garden.  I would like to also plant some lettuce in the future, but I don't think my poor little balcony can fit much more.

Well that brings us up to now, and I am exhausted and ready to jump in bed.  I hope everyone is having a great weekend and staying warm!... It is the middle of summer here now, and I am so dreaming of having a snow day, although I am sure that all of you on the east coast are sick of them by now!

04 February 2011

A Room With a View

One of the reasons I love living in Johannesburg is because I get to wake up to this every morning :)

(It's the view from my balcony)

03 February 2011

A Little Bit of Everything

Hello everyone!

So this week has been jam packed with work, orientation for my graduate program, classes starting and the general mayhem of getting prepared for the year ahead.  It has been a hectic few days with minimal amounts of sleep, but I think the worst is over and it should be downhill from here to the weekend.

Wow, so much has happened since I last posted.  Before writing about anything else, I just want to say how happy, and relieved, and thankful I am that my Grandpa responded well to his heart surgery and seems like he will make a strong recovery.  For those of you who don't know, he had a minor heart attack two weeks ago and was taken to a hospital near his home.  After various tests were done, it was discovered that his heart was extremely damaged and that he was essentially undergoing heart failure.  After much effort, he was transferred to USC and, after many more tests were performed, it was decided that the best option would be for him to take the risk and undergo triple bypass surgery.  Yesterday, he was in surgery for more than eight hours, which had all of us more than a little worried.  However, the doctor finally came out and informed my mom and uncle that he had responded very well to the surgery and that they were able to not only perform a triple bypass, but also replace a valve and correct his irregular heartbeat.  We are all overjoyed with this news and optimistic about his recovery!  My Grandpa is truly one of my heros!  But PLEASE still send thoughts, prayers and good vibes his way because he is still in critical care and will still be in ICU for another 7 to 10 days before he will be moved to general care.

On a different note, I had a very productive and enjoyable weekend filled with wonderful friends, sunny weather and delicious food. 

On Sunday I went here with one of my favorite people

Where I bought all the herbs and supplies to plant/create this

(ps I am in love with my little herb garden.  It is the closest thing to a pet that I can have here and so I think I am subconciously using it as a way to cope with not being able to have a dog ;).  It is basil, dill, green onion and rocket (which is a type of lettuce).  Unfortunately, they didn't have already grown rocket though, so I planted seeds and there will soon be rocket in that empty section at the top :).  Let's just hope that I don't kill my little garden, let's just say that I haven't had such a good track record in the past!)

Anyways, as an added bonus, while at the Nursery, we were able to have brunch here, which just happens to be one of my favorite Sunday restaurants in Johannesburg.

Needless to say it was the perfect Sunday outing, you know, just the kind you need to feel ready to tackle the week ahead.

When I got home I ended my perfect Sunday by making these delicious Savory Cupcakes which I found on EAT DRINK PRETTY .  I must say that they turned out pretty yummy and I was quite pround of myself since I am really not much of a "baker".  However, I am slowly starting to find my inner domesticity and force myself to expand on my (very) limited recipe base.

Here is how they turned out:

(Pretty good for a first-timer huh??!)

Well, unfortunately all good Sundays must come to an end and my very hectic week began.  I won't elaborate too much because I think I need to wrap this up, but all in all it was a busy, but important week and I think my classes are going to be very interesting... And I have already made a group of friends in the post-grad programme.  Everyone is really friendly and really curious about me being from California (questions include: Were you a cheerleader, Were you in a sorority, Is college really crazy like in the movies and Were you a Mean Girl, like in the movie.)  But everyone is really sweet and has gone out of their way to include me in their group (most of them already know eachother from last year), and I think the year is going to be a very good one.  I will update more on classes further into the semester.

I hope everyone is doing well and will try and post more often, now that my "hell" week is over.

Happy Thursday!