30 November 2011

Cape Town on a Sunday

Having lived in both Johannesburg and Cape Town for equal amounts of time (about 2 years in each), people often ask me which city I enjoy the most or which city I would choose to live in if I had the choice.  I always find it extremely difficult to answer this question as both cities are so different from each other, yet both possess qualities which I absolutely love and others which I'm not so fond of. 

To be honest, when we first moved to Jo'burg in the beginning of 2010, it was purely career-related, and neither of us was thrilled with any aspects of the move outside of those related to work.  We were committed to being in and out (i.e. back in the western cape) within two years and we both saw it as a time which wouldn't necessarily be enjoyable, but would be completely worth it in the long run.  Now here we are almost two years later and not even considering leaving the city for at least another two years.  Admittedly, this is partly due to the fact that most of the well-paying jobs are here, but somewhere along the line we also sort of fell in love with the city itself, made friends which we've grown attached to, and come to think of this place as home.  Johannesburg has a diversity to it which Cape Town lacks and just prior to our visit to Cape Town at the end of October, I even caught myself saying to Jurgen, "I wouldn't mind staying in Jo'burg for the long-term, in fact I don't even know if I would back to Cape Town if the opportunity presented itself."

Then, at the end of October, we made a quick trip to Brittania Bay (near Cape Town) for a wedding and decided to stay an extra night in Cape Town itself so that we could spend time with some friends we hadn't seen in awhile and also play tourist in a city which we used to call home. 

And then... I fell in love with Cape Town all over again and couldn't think of one reason why I had ever thought that living in Johannesburg any longer than necessary was ever a good idea.  What Cape Town lacks in diversity, it makes up for in beauty, location (its front is right against the ocean and its back is right against Table Mountain), and vibe.  In certain parts of the city you could easily forget you were actually in Africa due to the fact that it so much resembles a typical street in Paris and the laid back lifestyle Capetonians are so well known for is absolutely contagious.

In the end I think it's impossible to choose the "better" city between the two as they both have so much to offer and are so unique to one another, but just to give you a glimpse of why a part of me will always long for Cape Town, here are some pictures I snapped during our short stay in the Mother city.

See what I mean?

28 November 2011

{Two} Thanksgivings in South Africa

Hello all! 

As you've probably guessed, Jurgen is home safe and sound and I'm soaking up every second I have with him before I head to California for a couple of weeks for the holidays {more to come on that soon!}.  We've been quite busy since he got back as he's scheduled to hand in his Phd this coming Wednesday and so he's rushing to add all of the finishing touches to his thesis and I'm trying to add in a helping hand wherever I can.  It's amazing how much time it takes just to finalize references, etc - makes me very wary about ever wanting to write a thesis myself, but we will cross that bridge when I get there.

This year we were absolutely blessed for Thanksgiving.  A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to meet up with Martina who I connected with via her blog and then she quickly introduced Jurgen and I to her friendship circle - a group of amazing ex-pats all living in Johannesburg, but originally from various places around the world.  One of the American couples volunteered to have us all over for Thanksgiving, and so on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving we headed over to Namrata and Pat's house for one of the most delicious Thanksgiving dinners to date.

Photo Credit: Martina

Photo Credit: Namrata

Pure deliciousness!

We had an amazing time and were both so thankful to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with such a fun and spontaneous group of people, who we had only met a week before, but who I already feel like I've known for years :)  Thanks guys!

On Thanksgiving day, Jurgen and I enjoyed a quiet meal at home.  Jurgen braaied a chicken and I made twice-baked potatoes, corn on the cob and green beans.  It ended up being perfect for the two of us, though nothing compared to the feast we had enjoyed a couple of nights prior.

I've really been so blessed with all that life's brought me so far and I love that Thanksgiving serves as a little reminder each year to stop and remember how lucky I am, and how there are many people in the world who haven't been so fortunate.  This Thanksgiving I'm grateful for an amazing family, boyfriend and friends (both old and new), a stable job, two incredible homes (one in California and one in South Africa), good health and a bright future :)

Happy {Belated} Thanksgiving!!!

08 November 2011

Lekker by die See

Jurgen and I were in Brittania Bay (a couple hours drive from Cape Town) for a wedding a few weeks ago and decided to hop on over to Paternoster for lunch with friends the next morning.  This little town by the sea is so very near and dear to my heart that it's hard to put into words - but to give you some sort of idea, it's a place where Jurgen and I visited often when we first started dating, and the place where we decided we were going to give this long distance thing a go when I went back to California for the first time. 

It also happens to be just about the most romantic place you could ever imagine, filled with little white houses and quaint little restaurants scattered along the beach.  And, as an added perk, the fishermen sell bags and bags of crayfish tails (same as spiny lobster) on the side of the road, for next to nothing.  I remember once we scored 20 tails for R200 in total, i.e. about $25.  Long story short I love this place and could write about it for hours, but instead I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

Voorstrandt Restaurant aka the most adorable restaurant ever.
Such characters! - Jurg snapped this one for me on our way out of town :)

Other things making me happy this week:
  1. Only two more finals and then I'm finished with the semester!
  2. I have all of my documents together for my visa renewal and am going to submit everything tomorrow (a much bigger accomplishment than it may seem)
  3. Today at the gym I realized that I've somehow lost 1.4 kgs (about 3 lbs) since Saturday meaning that I'm only 1.6 away from reaching my goal weight :)
  4. Jurgen will be home in one week!!! (saved the best for last!)
How is your week going so far?

06 November 2011

Truffula Trees

Although Pretoria claims the title of the "Jacaranda Stad" ("city" in Afrikaans), Johannesburg can't be far behind.  After having our first big rain of the season last week, Spring is in full swing and the city is absolutely bursting with pops of violet and lavender everywhere you look. 

I've always loved Jacaranda trees, although when I was little I used to think that they were actually truffula trees like the one's in the Dr Seuss book, The Lorax - which naturally only added to my fascination with them.  As I was driving home from lunch the other day, I couldn't help but stop and snap a few pictures of the street leading up to my flat and take in the beauty that is Johannesburg in the Spring time.

View of the city from the top - look at all of the purple puffs :)
My flat block

Fun fact of the day: Did you know that Johannesburg is the most forested city in the world!?  Well if you didn't, you do now!

And, only 9 more days until Jurgen is back in Johannesburg! 
9 days too long in my opinion, but definitely better than 20...
I miss that boy more than he could ever imagine.

03 November 2011

Recipe: Pasta & Greens with Herb-and-Goat's Cheese Pesto

Asparagus is back in season in South Africa and I've been jumping at any opportunity to incorporate it into meals since it is my absolute favorite veggie.  I found this recipe a couple of weeks ago in Woolworths' Taste Magazine, decided to give it a go, and have probably gone back to it four or five times since.  Not only is it quick and easy (it probably takes about 10 minutes to cook after the chicken is defrosted), but it also incorporates all of the major food groups and is low in fat.  I know, I know, you can thank me later ;)

Serves: 2
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Level: Easy

You will need:
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • One bunch of tenderstem broccoli tips
  • One bunch of asparagus (halved)
  • Olive oil for stir-frying
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (broth)
  • One handful baby spinach leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 250g fettuccine, cooked until al dente
  • One handful of pine nuts and/or sunflower seeds
  • 100g soft goats cheese (low-fat cream cheese can be substituted)
  • 1 clove of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp basil pesto
  1. Once chicken is defrosted, stir-fry in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil for about 10 minutes.  Season to taste and then set aside.
  2. Stir-fry the broccoli and asparagus in 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil over high heat until tender crisp.
  3. Pour vegetable stock in with the veggies and bring to a simmer.  Add the spinach, remove from heat and check the seasoning.  Mix in chicken.
  4. Combine with hot, drained pasta and mix with pine nuts and sunflowers seeds.
  5. Top with a spoonful of goat's cheese pesto and serve.
For goat's cheese pesto:

Blend goat's cheese, pesto and crushed garlic until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste and then serve on top of pasta.

And there you have it, all of the different food groups wrapped up into one amazing dish!

P.S: If you haven't already, pretty please click that vote button in the top right-hand corner of the screen.  It would mean the world to me if you did!  Thanks :)