29 February 2012

a sunday afternoon in china town.

This past weekend, while Jurg was away in Cape Town, I went with Martina, Rob, Karen, and TP to China Town in Cyrildene {near Bedfordview}.  Although I had planned to spend Sunday studying and catching up on work, it didn't take much convincing {ok let's be honest, it really took no convincing at all} for me to make a quick change of plans.  With the lure of delicious Chinese cuisine, authentic Asian grocery shops, ridiculously cheap haircuts, and Karen as our guide/translator, I was practically crawling out of my skin to see what adventures the day ahead would bring.

And let me just put this out there:

China Town did not disappoint! 

It proved to be yet another fantastic day in Johannesburg with the ex-pat/blogger clan. 

What made this China Town stand out from all the others I've visited was its authenticity.  Rather than being a huge tourist attraction, Cyrildene was a place where people seemed to live normal lives, just as they would have if they were in China.  It almost seemed to be a little Chinese utopia, cut-off from the rest of South African Society.  There were children playing in the streets, racks filled with Chinese magazines, traditional street stalls selling foods I had never seen or heard of before, and hardly any other non-Asian visitors to be found.  Having Karen and TP with us to translate was almost a necessity since it became apparent that English was not the language of choice.

First up on our agenda was lunch at Beef Noodle.  We sat back and let Karen and her husband take care of the ordering, since a) we had no idea what half of the things on the menu were {example: bezoar larynx}, b) the waitress wasn't fluent in English, and c) we knew they wouldn't choose anything that we would refuse to eat {example: chicken gizzard}.  

A lot of the menu items had very creative names, but the noodle dish "North Korea is Grim" took the cake in my opinion.  Rob was the one who initially spotted it and announced "I love how they've taken the political state of a nation and incorporated it into their menu!"  I kept hinting that we should order it, but Karen slyly dodged that bullet which was probably the better choice in the long run. ;)

After some deliberation, Karen and TP decided to order a beef stir fry, crispy prawns with cashews, peanut chicken {my favorite}, pork spare ribs, prawn fried rice, and water spinach.  I can vouch that everything was just as delicious as it sounds.  We had all of that food between five people and hardly anything was left over at the end!  Beef Noodle gets a big thumbs up from me!   

After lunch we browsed around the shops while the boys got haircuts.  Karen stocked up on all her usual items and made sure to explain what everything was to us.  A lot of the items looked really delicious and I bought some two-minute noodles, lots of sweets, a couple packets of red curry paste, some sticky rice, and a bag of traditional chrysanthemum tea - all for the equivalent of about $15!   

There were also some really strange interesting items which I steered clear away from.  I'm usually completely open to trying anything once, but vacuum-sealed chicken feet and fermented quail eggs take it one step too far, even for me.  No thank you.

After the boys had finished getting their hair cut, Martina and I decided it was our turn for an $8 trim {separate blog post to come on this soon!}, and afterwards we all headed home.

It was an amazing day, and definitely something different from my typical Sunday routine.

China Town, I'll be back again soon!
{with Karen and Martina in tow of course {and maybe even Jurgen} :)

27 February 2012

scenes from the weekend.

This weekend Jurgen was in Cape Town visiting his parents and sister who's here on holiday from the UK.  I'd originally hoped to make the trip with him, but {reluctantly} decided to sit this one out due to a conflicting class schedule and dwindling bank account.

Still, I ended up having the most amazing weekend in Jo'burg sans boyfriend!  It was filled with friends, {too much} delicious food, great weather, unexpected adventures, blogging, and some good old fashioned "me time".

-- An early breakfast at Tashas with a dear friend I haven't seen in way too long --

-- The most incredible weather {via the view from my balcony} --

-- Setting aside some time for myself and reading a good book --

-- A spontaneous trip to the most authentic China Town with Martina and Karen -- 
{blog post to come on this soon}

-- Getting an $8 hair cut in China Town.  Karen acted as my translator and gave directions to the hair-dresser {Qing Qing} in Mandarin for me.  The whole thing was a little nerve-racking truth be told, but I mean really, who can beat that price!? -- 
{blog post to come on this even sooner!}

-- Afternoon coffee and cake at Chateau Gateaux Patisserie --

-- Catching up on my favorite blogs over a glass of red wine before bed --

Sigh... It's weekends like this one that I never want to end. 

But, on the plus side the end of the weekend means that I can look forward to picking Jurg up from the airport tonight, which is something that I can't help but always look forward to! 

26 February 2012

I Don't Usually Post on Sundays...

...But, today there's a good reason to make an exception.

It's my Grandpa's birthday today, and he's one of the greatest guys I know.

Besides being an amazing Father and Grandfather, my Grandpa...

Dedicated his entire career to keeping our country safe...

Has the greatest sense of humor...

Loves In-N-Out Burger more than just about anything...

Is one of the best story tellers I know {and one of the funniest}...

{Although for some reason he never wants to tell us the story of how he ended up with a tattoo of a skunk on his forearm named "Stinky".  His only comment on that one is that it's from his days in the Navy ;)}

Is an avid outdoors-man and loves anything to do with camping, hiking, or fishing.... 

Has an absolute passion for trains {in any size, shape, or form}...

Has traveled all over the world...

And has a family who loves and appreciates him more than he will ever know!

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

If anyone's day of birth deserves a celebration, it's yours!

Lots and Lots of Love being sent your way from South Africa.

24 February 2012

When Life Throws You Lemons... Get Take-Aways

Last night, Jurgen was supposed to be on a plane to Cape Town.

{key word here: supposed to}

Unfortunately for him, however, a series of very unlikely events resulted in his seat being given to someone from another airline {the scoundrel!} and Jurg being placed on a standby flight for 6:20am this morning, and then provisionally booked on a 10:00am flight in case that flight was full.

So, when he called me and announced {ever so cheerfully, mind you}  that he wouldn't be able to catch a flight that evening, I glanced at the clock, saw it was 10:00pm, and realized that there was still time to salvage the evening. 

Naturally, this meant rushing into town to grab take-aways from Simply Asia.  

And I must say, my evening wasn't half bad, in fact it was pretty darn near perfect.  

{Although I don't know if Jurg would share this sentiment with me! ha!}

Fortunately, he was able to get onto the 6:20 flight this morning and is now enjoying a food and rugby filled evening with his parents and sister in Yzerfontein {that lucky duck}.

As for me, I'll be flying solo this weekend and am looking forward to catching up on course work, work work, blogging, reading, and squeezing in a couple coffee dates with friends.

Plenty of things to keep me occupied while the Jurgenator is away!

Happy Friday!!!

What do you have planned for the weekend?

22 February 2012

That One Time I Was In Durban...

Today I'm on business in Durban so I thought it might be fitting to finally share some photos from the trip we took to the east coast way back in June over Jurgen's birthday.  

I had intended to share them right after we got back, but then became so bogged down with a nightmare project at work, that I completely dropped off the face of the blogosphere for almost 3 months. #yikes!

Fortunately, I'm back now and said nightmare project is a thing of the distant past!
{Cue huge group sigh of relief} 

During our trip we actually stayed in Ballito {a little beach town just north of Durban}, so our time in the city itself was quite limited.  But, from the little glimpse we did get, our experience was definitely a positive one and we both agreed that another trip to Durban needs to happen in the near future.  

On Jurgen's birthday he wanted to head into Durban to check out uShaka Marine World {pictures on that to come soon}, so we spent the bulk of the day getting our fill of dolphin shows, penguin exhibits, and aquariums.

Afterwards we headed down to the beach to take a walk and watch the sunset, but were quickly sidetracked when we discovered Moyo uShaka Pier Bar jetting out over the ocean.  It looked like an even better way to enjoy the sunset, so we had a quick glimpse at the impressive sand castles on the beach, drooled over the most adorable puppy, and then headed towards the pier to have a peek at the bar.

Beach Sunset in Durban - stunning isn't it?

The most adorable little teddy bear puppy!
{Moyo uShaka Pier Bar}

It turns out we made a good choice - Moyo Pier Bar is amazing!  The vibe, the views,  the cocktails, everything was better than we had initially expected.  So much better in fact, that we decided to stay for a couple of hours and chat over drinks.  I was especially in love with the decor since they went all out with a funky African, organic sort of theme.  Those lamps hanging in the above picture are made from shredded recycled milk bottles - amazing where a little creativity can take you, no!?

If you're ever in Durban I highly recommend setting aside one evening for Moyo Pier Bar, it easily ranks as my favorite cocktail and tapas bar {so far} in South Africa.

Do you have a favorite bar or restaurant that you've stumbled upon during your travels? 

20 February 2012

A Birthday Celebration at Martina's

On Saturday evening, Martina and Rob had us over for dinner in honor of the fact that 3 out of the 6 of us had birthdays during February.  What's even better is that they are all within one week of each other with Rob's being on the 3rd, mine being on the 10th, and Karen's hubby TP's being on the 11th.  I don't know, maybe it's an ex-pat thing? ;)   

Since Martina's half Burmese, she went all out in treating us to a traditional Burmese meal {with Rob's help of course!}.  Having been to Burma in 2006, I couldn't wait to relive some of my most treasured travel memories.  

Dinner started with the most delicious prawns and sticky rice and then for the mains we were served some amazing Burmese chicken curry.  It was the first time I'd ever seen boiled egg added to this type of dish and I also loved that the curry was made on top of noodles rather than the usual rice or cous cous.  For dessert we were further spoiled with ice cream sprinkled with cookie crumbs and a dash of kahlua.  And come on, who can really ever complain about vanilla ice cream and kahlua?  I think my waistline may have expanded by a good two inches, but it was so worth it!

We have been so very blessed to have met such amazing people since moving to Jo'burg.

Thank you so much Rob and Martina for a fantastic dinner and for always opening your house to us!

The Starter: Grilled Prawns & Sticky Rice
The Main: Burmese Chicken Curry {so delicious!}
Two of my favorite ladies and bloggers!

Next time I think it's our turn to host dinner.

I'm leaning towards a Mexican theme :)

15 February 2012

{Recipe} V-day Mac & Cheese Soup

I hope everyone had an amazing Valentine's Day, regardless of whether it was spent with that special someone, friends and family, or even snuggled up by yourself on the couch watching chick flicks!  I'm a firm believer that Valentine's isn't only for those of us in relationships, but rather a celebration of love in the broadest sense and a reminder to let those close to you know that you love and care about them.

Unfortunately, this Valentine's Day I was stuck at work and then in class until 9:00pm {those love-sapping lecturers!}.  But, when I got home I arrived to the most beautiful bouquet of  St Joseph Lilies and two of the most gorgeous looking miniature apple strudels.  I sure am getting spoiled good these days!

Although it was a tad late, once I got home I set out to make Val's delicious-looking Mac & Cheese Soup.  I varied the recipe slightly, and served it with grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough.  It turned out deliciously yummy, and only took about an hour to prep, cook, and serve!  But boy, let me tell you, this recipe is only for very special occasions, or very cold winter evenings.  I don't even want to know the calorie count and Jurgen and I both felt like huge oompa-loompas afterwards.  Still, if you're looking to splurge, have picky kiddos, or are craving comfort food in the best kind of way, this recipe is for you!

Mac & Cheese Soup

You Will Need:
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced shallots or spring onions
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 packet of bacon


1) Bring pot of salted water to a medium boil.  Add macaroni and cook as directed on the package.  Set aside.  Grill bacon in a separate pan until nice and crispy.  Dice bacon and set aside. 

2) Mince spring onions, carrots, and celery in a food processor {I don't have one so I just diced them}.  Melt butter in a medium pot (or large saucepan) and then cook veggies until tender.

3) Add flour to veggies and cook, stirring 2 minutes.  Gradually stir in broth and add macaroni noodles.  Bring to a boil, and stir until thickened {6 to 7 minutes}.  Remove from heat.

4) Add in milk, cheeses, and spices, and stir until cheese is completely melted.

5) Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle bacon over the top.


Note: If you haven't been to Val's Blog before, I recommend stopping by - her recipes are amazing and also usually pretty simple.  About half of my weeknight recipes come from her!


And on a completely different note:

These are the beautiful lilies Jurg surprised me with yesterday, and they are making my flat smell so good!

It's little things like this that never fail to make my day :) 

12 February 2012

A Quarter of a Century

Yep, it's true, I officially turned 25 over the weekend!

And like clockwork, the very next day found out that I need glasses, how's that for perfect timing!?

This year Jurg took me to see Phantom of the Opera at Monte Casino for my birthday.  It's my very favorite musical and it worked out perfectly that it just happened to be showing in South Africa over my birthday weekend!

The show didn't disappoint and the dancing, singing, costumes, and special effects were all amazing!  I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time with goosebumps and have had all of the songs stuck in my head ever since.  I think Jurg was a little bored and confused {such a boy!} since this was the first time he'd ever seen it, but after asking me tons of questions during the intermission he perked up a bit for the second half.  If you're in the Johannesburg area, I highly recommend getting tickets, I think the show's running through the end of the month.

Afterwards, we popped over to @Monte Wine Bar to grab a drink and wait it out until midnight.  We had a blast dancing around like kids, screaming the lyrics to our favorite songs, and submitting song request after song request to the DJ.  Jurg even met his brother from another mother, i.e. a guy dressed identical to him from head to toe!

Loved the decor!
See?  What did I tell you - "brother from another mother!"  
I couldn't believe my luck when they actually agreed to be in a picture together!

Once the midnight celebration had come and gone we wandered around Monte Casino for a bit since it was the first time we'd ever been there for more than a couple of minutes.  Although I will admit that it's extremely touristy, there's something charming about the atmosphere and it definitely rivals any of the major hotels/casinos in Vegas.  In future, I'm sure we will be back to try some of the nice open air restaurants.  

From the side this guy is blowing a whistle, but from straight on it looks like he's being punched in the face!
Sore feet!
My ever so handsome boyfriend ordering us burgers, classy!

We ended the night with burgers from Steers, which is the perfect way to end any birthday in my opinion!



Thank you so much to everyone who sent birthday comments, tweets, and messages my way!  You all really helped to make the day so special.  Every time I glanced at my phone and saw I had a new email or message from one of you, I realized how truly blessed I am to be a part of this wonderful community.   

Also a huge thanks to my sweet boyfriend for surprising me with the nicest birthday blog post and for making this birthday one that will go down in the books as one of the best ever.  

Jurg, you're incredible and I love you so much!

10 February 2012

To the Jen:

In true South African fashion, I though I would "hi-jack" Jenna's blog today and wish her a happy birthday.

Working in the field of statistics (boring I know!), I realised that the probability was significantly higher that Jen would see the message on her blog rather than a sticky note on the fridge!


I just want to wish you a happy birthday.  Thank you for being a sexy, fun, and very courageous girlfriend.  You are my best friend and I love you lots.  Have a wonderful day and I hope you enjoyed going to see Phantom of the Opera last night.

Lots of Love,


08 February 2012


Last Thursday Jurgen found out that he had *officially* passed his Phd.  

We weren't expecting to hear back until March, but since all of his reviewers came back with positive feedback, the approval process went much more quickly than usual.  Now he just needs to complete his internship year and the board exam.  

Then he's officially a registered Industrial Psychologist.

I must say that I am so, so proud of him.

9 long years of hard work are finally paying off.

Unfortunately, right before he told me the good news I had fallen {quite gracefully, mind you} down the stairs of my apartment complex and between trying to congratulate him, I was crying and laughing at myself all at the same time.  All poor Jurg could do was shake his head and laugh.

To celebrate, we decided to hit the town {on a work night, gasp!} and grabbed pizzas and celebratory drinks.  We tried to light our drinks on fire {to really get into the moment, you know?} but then our shot glasses started to melt {bummer}, so we nixed that idea.

{apologies for the blurriness}
{Looking promising}

Afterwards we went to a vibey bar next door called The Office which was packed full of people.

{Apologies again for the blurriness}

But, after five minutes or so the following conversation ensued:

Jurg: I'm really tired.

Me: I know me too.  

Jurg: What?!  It's really loud, I can't hear a word you're saying, maybe we should go outside.

Me: What are all of these people doing here on a Thursday night, don't they have jobs?

Jurg: I know, right?  Why does that guy keep bumping into you?

Me:  Maybe we're just getting too old for this.

Jurg: Maybe we're just getting old period.

Me: Do you want to go home and watch an episode of Swamp People?

Jurg: Umm, yes, I was secretly hoping you'd suggest that!


Sigh, I guess we are getting kind of old, but oddly enough I think I'm ok with it :)

Speaking of old, I'm turning a quarter of a century old on Friday, yep the dreaded 2-5.

To celebrate Jurgen is taking me to see Phantom of the Opera, since it's currently on tour in South Africa.

It's my favorite musical and I simply cannot wait!


Also, what do you think of my new blog design?
Joelle from A Charming Occasion put it together for me and I'm in love :)