01 January 2013

2012, You Were Good to Me.

In January, I kicked off the new year by setting a few 2012 resolutions.  I recapped the time I had spent with family in California over the holidays as well as our spontaneous decision to hop on a plane to Cape Town to spend Christmas with Jurgen's family at their beach house in Yzerfontein.  Expat friends invited me along for my first Help Portrait volunteer experience and the day is one that I'll never forget.  The ultimate cure for homesickness was discovered through this recipe for homemade jalapeño poppers and I shared ten of my most favorite memories to commemorate my four year anniversary in Africa.  Jurg and I went hiking with a friend and accidentally stumbled upon a baboon!

In February, I shared some serious thoughts on the ups and downs of life as an expat and let you in on one of the most idyllic little seaside towns in the whole world.  Jurgen found out that he had officially passed his PhD and then he hijacked my blog for my birthday {such a sweetie!}.  Martina threw me a joint birthday dinner at her flat and we enjoyed the most delicious burmese curry.  I went on a little expat excursion to China Town and somehow left with an $8 haircut.

In March, I discovered the perfect pastry shop in Jo'burg and countered the calories with a healthy, but delicious recipe for crispy cauliflower poppers.  Jurg and I went on a mini-weekend road trip to Hartbeesport for a friend's birthday and fell head over heals in love with the most adorable baby lion cubs.  We celebrated St Patty's Day in style and I announced that I'd be heading on a quick trip to Rwanda and Uganda at the end of April.

April started off with a bang as Jurg and I tried to find a balance between work and play.  As things calmed down in terms of work and studies I volunteered with Help Portrait again and Jurg and I celebrated the best Easter ever at Bushbabies in the little town of Hartbeesport.  A monkey named Apie sat on my head and I was immediately smitten.  Jurg and I went on a perfectly cheap date and had a blast mentally planning out our future home.  I was inspired and uplifted after attending the Flyover Show in Soweto and ended the month off with a trip of a lifetime to Rwanda and Uganda.

May was spent recapping my time in Rwanda and Uganda {which was absolutely and breathtakingly incredible!}.  Highlights included riding one million motos, visiting the women co-ops of Ejo Hazaza & Cocoki, visiting the Genocide Memorial, and heading over the border into Uganda to visit the beautiful Lake Bunyonyi.  I also bought a new car {a little blue ford fiesta!} and embarked on the true adventure of learning to drive manual.

June began wonderfully as Jurgen graduated with his PhD and we set off for a long weekend in Sun City with his parents to celebrate!  We made a new friend named Spook and I flew to Cape Town to meet up with my former Stellenbosch roomies, Jenny and Brigid {also see here and here}.  The month ended with a surprise party for Jurgen's 28th birthday {I'm so sneaky ;)} at Die Blou Hond and two of his best friends even flew up from Cape Town to join in the fun.

In July, I contemplated yet another 4th of July from afar {I think this was my 5th in a row!} and Jurgen and I got to experience Main Street Walk's Picnic in the Sky tour where we enjoyed a bird's eye view of Jo'burg's inner city and surrounds.  I announced that I'd be heading back to California for a couple of weeks at the end of August.  July wasn't a very exciting month ;)

In AugustJurgen proposed {!!!} and made me the happiest girl in the world {see the full story here!}. We spent that weekend at Wild and Free Private Game Lodge in Bela Bela enjoying numerous game drives, delicious food, and lots of bubbly and it couldn't have been more perfect.  It really is as magical as they say it is :)  Somewhere in the mix we also went to visit the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria and at the end of the month I boarded a California-bound flight with a beautiful ring on my finger.

I spent the first two weeks of September with my family in California.  We had a joint celebration for my Mom's 50th birthday and my Dad's retirement, I enjoyed my first Smashburger {yum!}, and we headed up north to go kayaking in Monterrey where we saw lots of seals and otters {even babies!}.  I also drove to San Jose for one night to meet up with my good friend Mckenzie before she signed on with the Peace Corps.  At the end of my stay, my Mom and I flew to New York for a few days to continue the celebration - it was a first-time visit for the both of us!  After returning to South Africa, Jurg and I threw a small engagement party with close friends.

October was spent playing catch-up and I re-capped my Mom and I's trip to the Big Apple {see here + here}.  I shared a few general wedding details and participated in the Travel List Challenge {32 down, 68 more to go!}.  I also started a bucket list series on my blog and shared my #1 ambition of reaching Base Camp at some point in my life.  Jurg and I participated in the Nike #WeRunJozi 10km and ran through one of the largest townships in South Africa as part of the route!

November started off with a bang as I finished my first post graduate degree and was accepted into a full-time one-year Master's programme at the University of Johannesburg.  Jurg and I made a second visit to Bush Babies and Apie was still there just as I had remembered him - this sparked another bucket list post, this time to visit the Mountain Gorillas of Central Africa.  I shared a gratitude list in honour of Thanksgiving and also recapped a visit to the Sterkfontein Caves from way back in May.  At the end of the month I excitedly revealed our holiday travel plans and all the details surrounding our December//January Namibia road trip!

In December, Jurg and I jetted off to Cape Town to attend one of our best friend's weddings and we decided to add a few days to our trip to relax and explore the city.  We took a morning walk through the Company Gardens, sipped bubbly and mojitos at the Grand Beach Cafe, and took a stunning drive along the coastal Chapman's Peak Route.  The following weekend, I left on a girl's getaway to Parys with my co-worker and partner in crime Gillian.  We had a wonderful time eating at quaint cafes, exploring little antique shops, and even practising our Afrikaans skills {out of pure necessity}.  At the end of the month Jurg and I departed on a month-long Namibia road trip and we can't wait to recount our experiences and adventures in the new year!  Lots of photos and stories to come!!!

- - - - -

2012 was easily one of the best years to grace my life thus far!

Here's to another year of health, growth and happiness in 2013!  

I hope you all enjoyed a safe and joyous New Years :)

{2011 recap here}


  1. Happy New Year, Jenna. I wish you nothing but the very best in 2013. Your blog is always so inspiring.

  2. My my what a busy chick you have been this year! Very inspired reading about all your adventures & I hope you have many more on the way in 2013! You are truly a magical little soul!

  3. those pictures of Jurg with monkeys kill me! too cute :)

    what a year! cheers to an even better 2013!

  4. such an amazing year for you :) I loved following it! happy 2013! I hope you and Jurgen are having an awesome time on your trip x

  5. Looks like you had an amazing year! I loved catching up on some of the posts I hadn't read yet. New follower here!

  6. You definitely had an amazing year Jenna! (as did i!:) I hope 2013 will be everything you hope and dream for!

    xo Lisa

  7. May 2013 be even better!
    Happy New Year!

  8. It looks like you guys have had an eventful year! Best wishes for the next one :)



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