Goodbye April! Things are already better in May…

Inspiration.  It comes from the strangest of places sometimes most times.  More often than not, it isn’t really subtle either…

Today, the Giggling Gourmet, @Jenny Morris, whom I follow on Facebook posted a quote by Marilyn Vos Savant:

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If you read my previous post, you will be more than aware of how defeated I felt, how close I was to tossing it all in the fuck-it-bucket and having a pity party of epic proportions.  Giving up really did look like a promising option.  Not only because of my flooded flat, which more than two weeks later has still not been assessed by the insurance for damages, but because of the struggles my parents have faced of late.

Mom still mourns Marley daily, and their living conditions leave a lot to be desired, but, with that said, acceptance of- or resignation to the fact that this is how things may be for the foreseeable future, has made things a little easier to deal with.  I still hate having to see my parents live in an industrial area where all sorts of noxious fumes are the order of the day, especially with Mom’s propensity to bronchitis and asthma.  The confined space that she and Dad have to share is also not ideal because he is frustrated to the point of physical aggression.  Just yesterday, he tried to hang a shelf which he spent hours making.  A piece of the wood split when he drilled it into the wall and he almost smashed the thing to pieces with the hammer.  It worries me a great deal.  I wish there was something I could do, but short of holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to come and live with me, my hands are tied.

Then of course, there are the tired expressions, such as, “this too shall pass”, or “it could be worse”, or “count your blessings, not your problems”, which I will admit, are all true.  Hearing these platitudes from people who actually are in my- and my parents’ life is acceptable, but I have to muster every last bit of self-control not to tell other people who know us, but prefer to live in happy obliviousness in their ivory towers, to shut the hell up.

Before I get lynched, I have the greatest respect for the trials we all have to face, but no two situations are the same.  Your wife leaving you for another man is regrettable and tragic, but so is my parents’ loss of almost everything they worked hard to build up.  I could go on like a long-playing record, but I would rather not rant more than is necessary.

In between all of this drama, I had to still find time to complete my second assignment before my upcoming exams in June.  I finished and handed in by the deadline, but part of me feels that had things been a bit calmer, I could have done more.  I anxiously await the results.

Since last week I have received incredible support from not only my friends and my colleagues.  Elizabeth and her parents put me up for a few nights, feeding me well (she still makes the best chicken pie in the whole world!) and allowing me to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings.  The restlessness of living out of a suitcase got to me though and I opted to take a colleague and his wife up on their offer of staying in the granny flat on their property until such time that my flat is habitable again.  At first I was hesitant, but after arriving, and seeing a beautiful bunch of proteas on the table to welcome me, I immediately felt at home.

The stability of a “home-away-from-home” without distractions, has afforded me the opportunity to begin revision for my final exam.  Heaven knows, I want to get this subject over and done with.  Having failed twice, many years ago, I’m hoping that the third time will indeed be a charm, otherwise I will forfeit all the credits I have obtained to date, and then have to do the entire year over, which is something I cannot afford.  So, putting the positive vibes out there – when I receive the notification that I have passed my Diploma in International Trade (Exports) exam, I will be celebrating with something bubbly – even if it is just sparkling mineral water.

The messages of care from friends far and wide have been a comfort in a time that has been so dark for my parents and I.  A surprise visit from a Capetonian friend last weekend also did a lot to lift our spirits, as did a visit with Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry and some friends.  Speaking of Uncle Barry – he worked incredibly hard to get dad’s car running again, which we are all so grateful for.  Dad can now get to work every day without hassles or stressing about rapturous steam billowing out of the bonnet.  Eliza and Nicholas have invited me to eat with them in the evenings (as they are very close to where I am residing for the interim), so I don’t have to cook.  Yay!

To every single one of you, who has, despite your own storms, blessed my parents and I with words of encouragement, a loan to keep the bank from taking my car back, a pot of soup, a bed to sleep in, an ear to listen, a long, flaming-hot shower, a back & neck destress massage or who did a load (more like a mountain!) of washing.  Thank you.  You know who you are.  You are the people that I will roll a boulder out of the way for.

So yes, things are not ideal, but they are 100% more ideal than they were in April.  And for that, I’m grateful, because while we’ve been defeated, we’re a long shot from giving up.

 

Where Were You? At Nyaru!

I have posted this entry on Tripadvisor, as well as my Niume blog, but the photos are not necessarily the same as the one in this post.

Many private game/nature reserves often lean towards being just a touch pretentious.  This is not the case with Nyaru.  The place is a tranquil, family-friendly getaway, about a half hour from Mossel Bay.  Two Saturdays ago my parents and I visited the reserve, just to have some much-needed down-time.  We weren’t really sure what to expect, because after all, we’re not really bush people.  But…it was close enough from home for us, and as we didn’t have to travel far, we were able to use the money we would have spent on fuel, on a game viewing experience.

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When making the booking, the process was handled quickly and efficiently, by a lady named Sarah, who followed up with a printable copy of the confirmation.  I made a special request for an early check-in, which was met with special consideration.  The check-in process was also dealt with quickly and we were showed to our accommodation by a young, friendly member of staff named Lauren.  Not long after we had unpacked, Sarah came to personally check on us, to see if everything was to our satisfaction.

The facility offers various accommodation options – The Nightjar Retreat, which is the only option that offers a bath and shower.  All other rooms, be they villas or chalets, have showers only.  The balcony not only overlooks the dam, but gives the occupants a 180-degree view of the reserve.  If you’re a keen game-, or bird watcher, don’t forget to pack in a pair of binoculars.

We stayed in one of the villas, which, like the chalets, are self-catering units.  Each villa has large sliding doors which open onto a small verandah, overlooking the pool and the mountains, giving the illusion of space and airiness.

While all the villas are furnished to the same design, each villa is unique in its selection of furnishings.  The one we stayed in had two large vintage-like wingback chairs, African artwork-, and a large wall clock made out of a barrel. It had a large double bed, with two bedside lamps.  The other villa, which I viewed for comparison in this review had two leather single-seater couches, twin beds, a single bedside lamp, abstractly-modern art- and a large silver clock on the wall.

Both villas were equipped with flat screen televisions, a sleeper couch (for a third guest) and selected satellite TV channels (although with the breath-taking surroundings, I am not sure one really needs TV).

I am quite the advocate of a small kitchenette in any room, because when I’m away, I don’t want to be dictated to by meal times, or schedules.  I had enough of that in boarding school!  The kitchenette is well-equipped with crockery, cutlery, an induction hot-plate, the requisite pots to us on the hot-plate, airtight-containers for left-overs and a fridge/freezer.

There are a few small things that need attention in the villa we stayed in, which did not at all negatively impact our overall experience.  We did mention these ‘snags’ upon our departure and Sarah assured us that our comments have been noted and that the required action will be taken to rectify these issues.

Only my parents and I were booked for the 16:30 game viewing experience, which made it a special family affair.  Our outgoing guide, Natasja, answered all our questions and shared her knowledge with us.  Her love of bird-watching was also evident as she pointed out many ground-, and tree-dwelling birds to us.  It must be mentioned though, that if you’re looking to see the Big-5, then this may not be the lodge for you.  There are many species of antelope to be seen, as well as giraffe, ostriches and zebra, to name but a few.

The resident meerkat and warthog are huge hits and are happy to pose for a photo with the guests.

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After our drive, Natasja was kind enough to show me the chalets as well.  The little thatched units are cosy and depending on the number of guests, can house 3, or 5 people.  Each chalet also has its own verandah but includes a braai area.  The chalets are also located much closer to the main reception/dining area than the Nightjar Retreat and the villas.  If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, I would recommend the villas rather than the chalets.  Both sets of accommodation have a small pool close by to cool off.

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We opted not to have a formal sit down dinner at the restaurant, but rather a picnic.  The selection of food blew us away!  While we were on our game drive, the staff set up the food at a small sheltered ‘lapa’ overlooking the entire reserve.  A true ‘dinner with a view’.  We did have an unexpected guest too.

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Ironically we were tuckered out from a day of fresh air and relaxation and retired to our clean, crisp, comfortable beds for a good night’s rest.  The following morning, after a steaming hot shower, we went to the restaurant for breakfast.  Many of the reviews I had read on Tripadvisor prior to booking stated the breakfast as rather ‘basic’.  I guess it depends on the guests’ expectations.  To me, a selection 2 juices, 3 cereals, fruit salad, cheeses, yoghurt, croissants, muffins, cheese and preserves and the option of a full hot breakfast of bacon, eggs (to preference), sausage, baked beans, hashbrown, tomato and toast, seem more than sufficient.  The only thing that I did miss at breakfast was filter coffee and hot milk (for both cereal and coffee).  The hot breakfast was served quickly, on a heated plate (big thumbs up), and again, it was a meal with a view.

We were quite sad to have to leave, because while we arrived as strangers, we left as friends.  We will definitely be back.  After all, this soul-restoring hidden gem, is literally, right on our doorstep.

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2016: It wasn’t All Bad

I didn’t type a post on January 1st as I have done for ages.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, I wasn’t of much value yesterday having rung in the New Year with Neil, Eliza, Neil’s friend, Grant and his wife, Casey (who happens to be Eliza’s cousin) and only had 4 hours of shuteye.  I’ll admit the hangover was deadly, but if I had to do it over, I would.  I had a great deal of fun and honestly, I was happy to see the back of a year in which I had shed a great deal of tears because of unsolved worries and constant financial and emotional stresses. It was a harsh, unforgiving year in the sense that I not only came to realize, but accept that many people are fickle and that they will only be in your life as long as you are able to give and they are able to take.  Once the proverbial well dries up, those same people who would telephone you once, sometimes twice, a week, can’t seem to operate the telephone anymore, nor can they make a special effort to pop in for coffee when they happen to be in the neighbourhood.  It hurts, and it makes me bitter, but I am not going to allow the bad vibes to cloud my hopes for 2017.  I also realized that there are good people out there too – people who I hardly know and who I least expected would care, who have proved to care more than some people I’ve known for a long time.

Looking back on some photos taken last year, I am grateful for the happy times that I had too.

Dad and I attended the first birthday of the parkrun.  I can’t remember when it was, but I do remember the theme was funny hats.  We didn’t do as many parkruns as we did in 2015, but this year that will change.  Dad has been very tired with his part-time job and the ridiculous hours involved, so I didn’t want to push the envelope too much.  It was good for us though, our bonding thing, so we need to get back into it.  It will also take his mind off the worries he has, albeit for a little while.

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Elizabeth’s sisters had babies early in the year – the first being Anna and Miles’s little princess, Karolyn and less than a month later, Ilne and Zachary welcomed their first-born, Harold to the world.  They are both sweet kids, with polar-opposite personalities.  Elizabeth is such a proud aunt, who shares their progress with me often.  Little Harold started walking just before Christmas.

I did a first aid course in April.  The course matter was intense, but the instructor made the day informative, interactive and fun.  My certificate is valid until 2019, but honestly I hope that nobody at work has a serious injury because I think my nerves may get the better of me.

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June I decided to do some baking.  I made a peanut butter and syrup swirl roll which turned out to be such a resounding success, a friend makes it regularly for her children.

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July I broke away to Shayla-Rae for a few days.  It was, as it always is, spectacular to see her.  She taught me how to stoke a proper wood-oven and she cooked on the stove for me every night because I was totally fascinated.  Let me tell you something:  a chicken roasted in a Dover oven tastes out of this world.

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In August Carla, her friend, Elaine and I went to Benguela Cove where we did a wine and chocolate pairing – a first (but definitely not a last) for me.  It was a special day, a memory etched in my mind.

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September was a month of celebrations.  Mom turned 70 and she and dad also celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.  I took them for a fancy lunch and afterwards we ate cake – for days afterwards.

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I also turned 18, for the 19th time and did something different – a Murder Mystery Party.  It took a lot of planning and while nobody was really sure what to expect, the evening was an absolute hit!

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My Herbalife business picked up systematically throughout the year, and I’m trusting that the trend will continue upwards this year.  My upline had a promotion for the members in their team and I qualified for a Hawaiian themed-party in October!  Pictured here are all the qualifiers.

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The same month I decided to give my hair a bit of a chop and while I hate selfies, many of my friends wanted to see the new look.  I like it, but sadly, finances don’t allow for a short do that requires constant upkeep.  By the end of 2017 my hair may very well be long enough for me to sit on!

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One of the most special events that happened in October was the birth of Neil and Eliza’s second son, Leonard.  I am the first person that will tell you I am scared of babies, but he is special.  I have really bonded with him and look forward to cuddles from him when I go to visit them.  Their eldest son, Noel, who is three now is such a good big brother.

November Carla treated a number of us to a weekend away for her birthday.  We went to a tiny little place called Nature’s Valley (about two hours from here).  We had a special time, bonding as friends, over wine, laughter, food and the tranquility of the nature there.  I’m sure another weekend will be on the cards this year.  Topping the last one may prove a bit difficult, I think.

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Elizabeth also had her birthday and my gift to her was an open-air movie at the Botanical Gardens in George.

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The last month of the year brought with it summer and with that, the annual Colour Run.  It is marketed as the happiest 5k on the planet and I think it lives up to that statement.  I was man-down afterwards because the heat was extreme.  It is fun and the positive vibe is electrifying.  The only downside is the struggle to get clean afterwards.  It took me three days to get all the paint out of my hair and off some parts of my body.  Will I do it again?  Absolutely!

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Dad also bought Mom a hand-reared cockatiel, who I named Marley.  It means misty meadows and she is grey, so it was a no-brainer.  She has proved to be a real joy.  She is only nine weeks old, and can be a bit of an attention-hog.

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The saddest thing that happened in December was the devastating veld fires which raged for a few days.  There was speculation that someone had tossed a cigarette butt out of the car window, but it turned out that it was arson.  One of the fire-starters was caught red-handed and arrested.  People could have lost their homes and so many animals would have been displaced, or worse, killed.

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There were other gems throughout the year – random drives with Mom to The Point to feed the seagulls, or simple pleasures like a beautiful sunrise, entering the American Green Card Lottery (I’ll know later this year if my application was successful, but I have a really good feeling that my dream of writing a novel in The Big Apple will be realized) a homemade grilled cheese sandwich, real boerekoffie in an enamel mug and even a spontaneous cheese and wine with a friend on the back of his bakkie.

In closing…

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Wine Tasting in Herold…

It is scary just how quickly time flies, especially at this time of the year.  I have realized, with some dread, that it is a little over six weeks to Christmas!  And, with that said, a little over five weeks until we close for the summer holidays.  Eek!  There is so much still to do.  But, being a little more in control of my internal panic button, I am still taking time out to relax and recharge my batteries, like I did during two weekends in October, with friends, both old and new…

The first was with Elizabeth, Steve (who was no longer in a relationship with Michelle – not sure who broke it off, or why…) and another friend of ours Gerald.  We went wine tasting at Herold Wines, which is about 45 minutes from the town where we live.

We set off on the Saturday afternoon, the pouring rain not dampening our spirits.  We drove in Gerald’s 4 x 4 as we were travelling over the historic Montagu Pass, which is not a tarred road.  It wasn’t really necessary as many day to day cars travel the road, but it was definitely more comfortable.  The 45 minute journey took substantially longer than expected, but only because Elizabeth and I kept screaming “stop”, jumping out and snapping pictures.

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We eventually arrived…

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The range of wines is limited to six, so the tasting went quickly…

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and then we headed off to our digs for the evening, a self-catering cottage on the farm called Flufftail.

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It was quaint, clean and comfortable.  The water was hot, there was a fireplace and best of all…no cell phone reception, so we could really enjoy each other’s company.

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We stayed up quite late, but as is par for the course, Elizabeth was up first, then Gerald and then Steve, and as much as I tried to pretend not to hear the noise, I was up just after five too.

Steve went for a run, and Elizabeth and I decided to take a walk before breakfast.  There is something magical about farm life…

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Returning from our walk, we quickly prepared breakfast, while Gerald and Steve had a serious man-to-man talk at the fence … I love this photo because it looks like they are peeing at the fence, but they aren’t.

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It seems that everywhere we go, someone always ends up with wet feet or shoes…

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But, as with all good things…the visit soon came to an end and we had to head home…taking a few more pics along the way…

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Our journey ended with a quick lunch of leftovers at the beach.

I am so blessed to be able to make memories with the most amazing friends.  Life is good!

I will put up the post about my latest camping trip (the second October outing) either tomorrow or Thursday, so…pop by for another visit!

I Really am a Misfit…

…I realized this in quite a humourous way last night.  It’s amazing how when you hear someone retelling a story you’ve told, just realize just how nutty you sound.

Last night at Ewan’s “The-thesis-study-is-finally-handed-in” surprise sausage barbeque, Carmen’s friend, Marion (whom I have also befriended) was telling a few of the group that she thought I was a bit strange when we first met.  A group of us went out for coffee one evening after work, and there was Marion, unfamiliar to me, but a friend of Carmen’s, so someone awesome, simply by association.  I knew all the other people that were there, and they knew me, so I didn’t think twice about telling them about the tragic passing of Mom’s much loved canary.

Now, most of my friends will tell you that I love animals, but that I seriously suck at taking care of them.  Not because I don’t want to, simply because I’m so scatterbrained, I sometimes simply forget.  I am not a good pet-sitter either, pets tend to die on my watch, as was the case with said canary.

Mom and Dad went away for a few days, about a week, the destination is irrelevant.  The fact is they weren’t home, the canary was, and it was left in my capable over-30 hands…or so they thought.

I remember sitting at work updating orders when the proverbial bucket of ice-cold water was poured down my back!  Shit, I’d forgotten to feed the canary, for about three days running. Oh well, if it’d survived this long (never assume anything!), what was another hour or two, right?  When I eventually did get home, after first stopping at the mall for something, and then at a friend for a quick coffee (which lasted about two hours), I trotted off to the back porch to check on the canary and well…it was dead (as most of you probably expected by now).  I was quite distraught – not because it was dead, but that Mom wasn’t around to bid it farewell and bury it, so I did what I thought (Marion obviously didn’t) was the next best thing, and I wrapped it in clingwrap, and popped it in the freezer, right next to the frozen chicken pieces.  Birds of a feather…

The day before my folks were due home, I broke the news as gently as I could that the canary had chittered it’s swansong and was now in the Big Aviary in the Sky.  Mom was understandably upset.  What upset her even more was that I’d frozen the carcass.  “Now mom, it wasn’t a carcass, it still had all its feathers and everything…” I told her that I wasn’t going to bury the poor little creature until she got home.

The day of the burial arrived – Mom made me dig a tiny little grave at the rose-bush and I placed the little popsicle in the ground, clingwrap and all.  Mom thumped me upside the head and told me to use my brain – plastic is not biodegradable!  So I picked it up, grabbed the ends of the plastic and shook until the canary popped out with a soft thud into the ground.

Our rose-bush is still growing like a weed…and the flowers are canary yellow too.  Coincidence?  Nah!

So, as I sit here, rereading this post before I publish, I realize just how loony I must have sounded regaling this true tale to someone who’d just met me.  I guess I really am a misfit…but I love myself just the way I am.

Tring, Tring…it’s Tuesday!

When the alarm clock went off this morning I couldn’t believe that it was time to get up for work already.  Why does that always happen when I go to bed late?  One would think I could trick my body into thinking it sleeps longer.  Maybe I should try Steve’s route – his wristwatch is set 18 minutes ahead, so his body thinks it is sleeping longer than it actually is (even though it gets up 18 minutes early?).  I don’t understand the logic exactly, but hey, to each his own, right?

Oh well, I am not complaining too loudly.  Fortunately things are quieter at the office today.  I’m proud to say I’ve even done some cathartic purging.  I think I’m in love with the shredder…  Those of you who know me know how I just can’t seem to throw anything away.  The result?  A mountain of paper that, if printed on both sides goes into the shredder, if not, then into the recycling box.  I’m thinking that my office needs some personalizing.  I shall have to look for some photos – probably over the weekend.  And a pot plant too, I think.  That I’ll have to research though, considering that there is no natural light in my office (I’m surrounded by three solid walls and my door looks out onto the passage).  Any suggestions?

Today, a very special online friend of mine is celebrating the renewal of her life year.  Cindy here’s wishing you a wonderful day, and a year filled with blessings and God’s Love.  I pinched this cake off the internet for you 😀

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One thing I didn’t put on my 2013 Bucket List was to play more Facebook Scrabble.  As it is a new year, I reset my stats and have already lost my first game, to a bloke living in London.  I am playing a game with Granny1947, but the board is so tight, there is not much place to build.  I’m sure the next one will be better.  I am getting my ass whipped solidly by another player (her name escapes me right now), who has had four seven-letter words in a single game.  I have great luck, but that is something I’ve never had happen to me.  Maybe soon.  Poor woman keeps apologising, as if it’s her fault the computer gives her better letters than it gives me.  I definitely want a rematch!

Elizabeth is having a rough day at work.  One of her colleagues is on leave and the other has taken ill, so it is just her and another lady that have to do all the work.  I sent her a message that says, “Keep Calm and Drink Wine”, but that is obviously not an option right now.  Part of me could hear her cursing me under her breath, and it makes me smile.  She’s a tough woman, she’ll get through it.

On other fronts, Carmen is hosting a surprise for hubby Ewan tonight, in celebration of his thesis-study finally being finished after five long years.  His dedication to his study has been admirable.  He is blissfully unaware that about 30 of his closest family and friends are going to be there tonight to celebrate with him.  I hope someone remembers a camera!  Speaking of which, I must get back into the habit of carrying mine around with me.  I have seen some stunning photo-ops lately and haven’t had my camera with me…grrrrr  Sure, I have my blackberry, but sometimes 14 megapixels are needed to really catch the clarity of an image.

On the menu for lunch – Herbalife shake.  It’s odd, you know.  I kicked my heels in hard when Steve suggested a meal-replacement shake, because “shake” has that diet connotation to it (and besides, I like to chew my food), but I must say, I love my shake – it’s Toffee Apple and Cinnamon (the last one in the country, because it was a limited edition) – it’s quick, easy, nutritious and it tastes good.  I’ve also taken to Herbalife Protein Bars (healthy chocolate!).

Well, I’ll leave you with all these arb ramblings of mine for the moment.  I feel a philosophical conversation brewing in my head, but that is for another time.

Have a terrific Tuesday y’all!

 

 

 

Triple F – First Fabulous Friday…of 2013

Woke up this morning to cool weather!  What a blessing after the extremely hot days we’ve had recently – and no, I’m not complaining about the heat, because if it hadn’t been so hot, I wouldn’t have got to go to the beach…in my sassy, new, blue bikini 😉

Now, many of you know that I lost 15 Kg (33 lb) last year when I wrote this post.  Well, I’ve lost a few more Kg’s and it was finally time to show off my new curves at the beach.  Not only am I looking gorgeous (okay, granted, I need to work on the tan a bit), but I’m also feeling so great.  Like I said, in 2013 I am going to be more positive.

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I did get a bit of colour (mainly on my shoulders and back), and for it to last, I can’t stay in the sun for hours, nor be in the sun every day, so that’s why I’m thankful for the cooler weather…so I’m not tempted to overdue things.

Later this afternoon I’m off to have coffee with Carmen and another friend of ours, Mary, whom I haven’t seen for ages!  She is back off to varsity early next week, so this catch-up is going to be fabulous, I just know it!  It’s the last weekend before I go back to work, so I’m going to make the best of it (and finish James Patterson’s Zoo (it’s one of the books I bought last year.  Yes, I’m already working on my 2013 bucket list).   Monday it’s back to the routine (which I’m glad about too, I haven’t been in the gym as much as I’d have liked while I’ve been on holiday, but I have to drive past there on the way home from work every day, so I don’t have an excuse NOT to go…) I’m looking forward to going back to work, to seeing my colleagues – after all, they’ve become special friends too.

Whatever you and yours do today, make the best of it – be grateful for everything and don’t forget to smile!