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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bushveld New Year…

Wow, it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2009! I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly. We’re off to Olifants again tomorrow until Saturday. We’re going to see in the New Year in the bushveld. What a perfect place! Here are a few pics from our last visit :


Tree in flower outside our front door

026 Tawny eagle

042 bushveld nursery

038 Just managed to catch a half-open mouth on film


IMG_4770 IMG_4673 IMG_4732b


037 044

rare cold day


a rear {rare}sight


This was some dirt being thrown up at us as we passed a hole on the side of the road:


turned out to be:


Mommy & daddy warthog protecting their 7 little ones.

043 Mom forgot the spoons for the jelly!


Shannon the hairdresser’s handy-work. Reece loved it!! Just call me ‘spike’.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

I have been trying for days to change the background of my blog to one of my own designs, but I simply cannot get it to span the entire width. There must be some code I'm missing! Thanks to Bonnie van Esch, I have this gorgeous vintage floral background to use until I can figure this out.
I am happy to say that I managed to get clickable buttons to run across the top under my header to direct you to places on my blog as well as to Weeds and Wildflowers (where I am part of the creative team).

If you like mine. you can check out, that's where I found out how to do this. So easy actually- you simply copy and paste some standard code, then you change some colours if you like and change the wording, add the links - also just a case of substituting your link - and voilà, there you have it.

The next step would be to figure out how to change these simple buttons to cute customized ones.... mmmm challenges, challenges!

We're having a good old Sunday lunch today, complete with Roast lamb, veg and roast potatoes. Leon's mom is coming over and my parents will eat with us too, so we're going to have a bit of a family lunch.

I have taken out the Christmas decorations, but cannot find the base for the tree. I distinctly remember telling Leon last year "Remember the base isn't with the tree, here it is, let's not forget where we put it" - and guess what - I have forgotten where it is! Isn't that just "Murphy" getting up to his old tricks again!?

I have to make a concerted effort to find it today so we can get the tree off the snooker table and the decorations off the sofa in the living room!

This week should be a little less stressful than all the running around I did last week. We have Shannon's Grade 6 Thanksgiving service at school tomorrow night - her last 'offical' school function before she moves up to the High School next year. Reece has his pool party on Tuesday where the kids take swimming costumes and spend the morning at the school pool. Then Friday is the last day of school and Shannon's end-of-year singing concert and awards.

Saturday we're off to Olifants for a few days - so looking forward to that!

Last week I went with Shannon and a few friends to see the premier of New Moon, the latest movie in the Twilight series. We really enjoyed it. 2 1/4 hours flew by so quickly. I think it's better than the first movie. It's such an escape from reality, I love those vampires LOL! :)

I had to buy iron-on transfer paper to make a T-shirt for my Twilight-obsessed daughter! She had me driving all over to find the (rather expensive) paper so I could make a T-shirt for her. There simply was no time to even think of trying to order one online.

I have to admit (eek) that I copied a T-shirt off the internet for her. Well, sort-of. I made the design myself and changed it a bit. the original paid tribute to Edward, Shannon's had to pay tribute to her favourite character, Emmett.

Here's what it looked like:

Cute idea! So all credit to the original designer, whoever that may be. It certainly was a hit with Shannon!

Well, duty calls, I have to go get things moving in the house (uggh) : unpack the dishwasher, check school clothes for tomorrow and make a shopping list so I can go to Woolworths to pick up some food for lunch etc etc...

PS: There are great Black Friday sales on at W&W's this weekend - so go click on my new little button at the top of the blog ;o) and take a peek at what's on sale. There are also 3 new "Sweet & Simple" Christmas kits just released.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

pixels; pain & perfection...

I am about to scream! I have tried and tried to add a background here on my blog in exactly the same way as I did previously (and it worked) but for some reason, it doesn't want to work now.

I have made the cutest new background full of vintage images, but it simply will not load here! Oh boy for me there is nothing worse than something that won't do what I want it to do.

I think I am my own worst enemy at times as I will persevere until I get it right. This time however, I am tired of trying! It's time to ask for help I think!

Well at least the weather has improved- something is going right! And I'm feeling better today after having a leg cramp on Thursday night which resulted in me getting sick from the pain. I have now decided that I will simply have to deal with my Fibromyalgia in a new way.

This is the first time in a very long time that it has affected me to this extent and I simply can't function this way. I am going to have to take some magnesium and potassium supplements and watch my diet.

Plus I'm going to have to combat my innate desire for perfection - I have to relent sometimes and realise that sometimes I simply can't do something and need to take a break!

Okay, that's my ranting for today.

Here's a new layout I did yesterday with W&W's Jolly Holiday Christmas Collection. I just love these products!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It has been so cold here this week, one could almost imagine that you've been transported to the Northern Hemisphere! Since Tuesday the temp hasn't gone above around 15 degC! It has been raining and the wind has howled. Simply not the usual hot Summer weather we're used to!

So weird how the weather is so erratic.

With the advent of the cold weather, I have been getting in the mood for Christmas decorating. I love the coziness of Christmas and this weather makes me want to cozy-up the house with Christmas goodies. So I think this weekend we may just start hauling out the tree and ornaments.

Our annual neighbourhood Santa sleigh begins on Monday. We secretly drop off a gift for our kids at the office and then Santa drives around all the streets on a light-festooned sleigh (pulled by a pick up) delivering the gifts. They play Christmas Carols at full volume so you can hear the sleigh from all over the neighbourhood. The kids look forward to it every year and Reece has been asking when Santa's coming for the last month. (Shannon is old enough to know that this is all mom's doing, but boy she still wouldn't miss it for anything!)

I've also been digi scrapping a lot lately since I'm now a CT member for Weeds & Wildflowers. I SO love their products! They are just so unusual and doodly - so cute.

Here are a few of my latest ones...

Girlie-girl_web My-creative-escapes_web ENERGETIC-BOY_web school-boy_web


Monday, November 16, 2009

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"
My favourite time of the year!

I really am starting to get the feeling of Christmas now. Even though our local hypermarket has been beautifully adorned for Christmas and has had Christmas goodies for sale since the beginning of October (can you believe that?), I haven't actually 'felt' that Christmassy feeling until now.
I'm already planning the decor for our Christmas table and am looking forward to all the preparations and anticipation of this wonderful time.
Most of the stores now have loads of sparkling, tinselling ornaments out for us to drool over. And what a choice! Some are elegant, others old-fashioned (love those!), others are just plain christmassy cute (love those too)!
There are even the most adorable adornments for our feline and canine friends at our local PicknPay - I am simply going to have to buy a couple for our furry friends at home! (mmm - wonder what a duck would look like with a Santa hat- now that's a thought!)
This year I want to make Christmas loads of fun for the kids. When we had a family Halloween get-together this year, I found a fantastic site that generates the cutest cards, bingo games etc etc. I printed out a Halloween Bingo game and played it with them on Halloween, they enjoyed it so much that I think this Christmas, I will print out a cute Christmas one. They'll love that.
Take a peek here for a free Christmas Bingo card generator.
Reece is really looking forward to Santa's sleigh arriving in our neighbourhood this year. Each year, in mid-November, Santa visits each street in our Estate. He rides on a Christmas light-festooned sleigh pulled along by a bakkie (pick-up). The kids love it as Santa's sleigh is accompanied by wonderful melodious Christmas carols which can be heard all over the Estate. So for a few weeks, the spirit of Christmas is sprinkled around our estate as santa drives around spreading christmas cheer and handing out much anticipated gifts (Note to self -drop kids' gifts off at the office by Wednesday!).
In our previous home, we used to go crazy with Christmas lights. I loved decorating the outside of the house with magical twinkling lights. The estate we lived in had a 'switch-on' day when we would all light up our homes for the first time that season. Even now, the tradition continues there.
I plan to decorate our home here with lights this year. The kids are getting older each year and I would love to inspire them to continue with our little family traditions, albeit how simple. I got out of the habit of decorating with lights outside purely because this house is SO much bigger and very spread out which makes it so much more difficult to decorate. This year will be different- I am determined to transform our home into a memorable magical place!
Do you like my title at the start of my post? Then I have a surprise FREEBIE for you!
You can grab some cute digital (& printable) Christmas clocks HERE. Hope you enjoy them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

For the moms out there..

Do you ever feel as though the things you do are simply not appreciated? That you are expected to do things for your family, yet never actually get some sort of recognition? Well here's a little story that my friend Rika sent me, which I think sums it all up...

Invisible Mother.....
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'
Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.
It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me
until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave
their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that
will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become. At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever
be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.'

That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women .

So there you have it. Remember that you are doing wonderful things which are appreciated and admired, even though it isn't actually verbalised.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Today is Digital Scrapbooking Day and over at W&W there's loads happening. I posted my first blogpost yesterday as part of the new CT . You can view it here - and grab a FREE template.

I had to get back into the swing of things with using FTP and posting on the blog- but sorted it out in no time as my memory came flooding back to me. Happy fond memories of way back when I was designing.

This week has been a turmoil with Shannon's school deciding to incorporate the Grade 7 classes for 2010 into the High School as well as increase class sizes throughout the school from 24 to 28. The parents, needless to say, have been really up in arms over it.

I personally don't mind too much about the Grade 7's moving up to High school, it was just that the school chose to drop this bombshell on us 4 weeks before the end of the school year. Not too fair and rather a shock to us all. As for the increase in the class sizes - that's another matter all together! Surely it's not beneficial to the kids to have bigger class sizes. There are so many studies to prove this!

On a lighter note, yesterday afternoon Reece enjoyed the Fun Day at school - except he got really nauseous on one of the rides (the second time on the same ride!). He couldn't even stand up! Thank goodness he wasn't physically ill! There was another ride where I wish I had had my camera with me- typical - I forgot it at home! They lift them up on chairs using air blown into a kind of balloon-type jumping castle thingy - almost parachute-style. There is a velcro closing door which they open once the kids are around 3 metres up in the air. This causes decompression as the air blasts out and the chairs drop really fast. Reece's expression was so funny- he looked so bewildered as if he didn't know where he was!

Well gotta go now- off to take Reece to cricket at Southdowns festival. I really am not in the mood. We had a lot of rain last night and I have to admit, was hoping the cricket was cancelled!

Oh well.....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's been happening...

On Sunday 25/10/09....

I got accepted onto the Weeds & Wildflowers Site Creative Team ! What a privilege this is! They had a call for a couple of new CT members about a week ago and they sent me a reply last night. So excited as it means I get all their products for free now! Yay!!! Can't wait to get started. I'm hoping this will force me to scrapbook more now.

I have printed out some of my digi layouts and put them in an album. They look really great and it has inspired me to persevere. I also want to do the occasional hybrid or paper layout - so here's hoping I get my act into gear in amongst all my painting too.

Speaking of painting, I am still finishing off the 'girl with the guitar' for Shannon. It's looking lovely, but taking ages to dry- must be too much humidity in the Summer air at the moment. I also learnt all about Beeswax art last week- what fun!
It really is a fabulous medium. Your only limit is your imagination. This art form started with the Egyptians B.C. - also called Encaustic Art.
I had painted 3 small paintings in oil of indigenous birds and wasn't totally crazy about them- I found them a little boring. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and use beeswax! First I added small random blocks of scrapbook paper to the canvas, not covering the birds, but it did overlap here and there onto the birds.
I then covered the entire surface of the painted canvas with beeswax, then scratched the surface of the wax with a sharp piercing tool to create patterns as well as scratch over the outlines of the bird.
I then used Burnt Sienna oil paint and rubbed it over the surface, removing excess with a cloth. It settled beautifully into the scratches, enhancing the bird and the patterns, but giving an aged, almost fantasy-like look.
At art class yesterday, Johan said I should add some oil paint on top to give it depth- by lightening the background and making it more painterly. That has just finished it off perfectly! I want to finish off the remaining 2 bird paintings and perhaps take them to the house in Olifants.

On Monday 26/10/09...

Bad news- my car decided to pack up again yesterday!! I hate that car!! It seems the electric steering wheel lock is faulty so the car simply won't start. I'm waiting for BMW on call to send a tow truck out to fetch it. I feel like telling them to keep the darn thing!! Did I mention I hate the car? Well Leon says as my motorplan is up next year and as we've had nothing but trouble with the #%&***&^%$!!!*$!!! car, I can look at getting something new - so there's some good news after the bad!! This time I don't want a sedan- I want a small 4x4 - I'm tired of the low car. Good news now is I get to drive the Range Rover for a while!!! Yay!

BMW just phoned now while I was typing this to find out if I can get the car out of 'park' - but it's an Automatic so now goodness knows what time they'll get here as they need a technician to come out with the tow truck as the tech needs to first do something about getting the car to move first! What fun!

Oh well that's my 2 cents worth for Monday.

I re-discovered this amazing site again yesterday- I say "re-discovered" as I had loads of their wonderful handwriting fonts on my old desktop PC – and remembered yesterday that I haven’t downloaded them for my new laptop. So I popped in again and I was amazed at all the amazing new fonts plus they have the most awesome tips for personalizing your blog. So I definitely think I’m going to zshoosh up my blog too now. I just need to discover how to find more time in a day!!Check it out here: Kevin and Amanda.

Wednesday 27/10/09.....

Still now word on my car. No surprise as the repair shop at the BMW dealership is absolutely useless. I have never had any joy with them! So I guess I'll have to chase up on that today.

I'm off this morning to help my Dad look for fabric for their dining room chairs and for a little ottoman type storage thingy. Thye've had the dining suite sanded down and painted off-white. I think it'll make ahuge difference in the house as the house is very dark.

Mom & dad are off to Ian & Nikki for this weekend as it is Ian's birthday on Saturday (31 Oct). Lucky them to be able to get away! I am having withdrawals here as we haven't been to Olifants for so long and with school exams and other commitments, I guess it'll be December before we get there again.

Speaking of this weekend, I've finally got around to organising a Halloween party at home. We kind of miss living in Silver Lakes for the annual Trick or Treating! No-one does ot here as the houses are too far apart (& in my opinion the place has far too many uphills!!!).
so I sent out a cute invitation which I created with Gina Marie Huff's All Hallows' Eve digi kit (at Weeds and Wildflowers). What a cute kit- part of their new Sweet and Simple range.

I tried to add an image now of the invitation, but for some reason Blogger doesn't want to connect - so I'll try later.

Gotta get Shannon studying later for her exams as well as learn some of her words for her end-of-year singing concert. She is singing 5 songs. They're doing a "Cinemagic" theme this year so everything is done in the form of medleys in various movie categories. I think that'll be fun.

So that's me for today. Gotta get moving - sure Dad will be calling me shortly!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lessons learnt...

lesson # 1
Blog more! (need I say more)

lesson #2
Scrapbook more. And, here's a new layout which I did, albeit a digital one, at least I've scrapped! I still have to find a good photo for my paper layout I've almost completed about Shannon's obsession with the colour Orange but hey, could that be lesson # 3?

lesson # 3
Finish your layouts you've started!

Paint more! I really need to get into the habit of painting more. As I forgot all my paints and brushes at Olifants, I had to go buy more and after spending close to R2000 on a new stock of paint & brushes I think I really need to get painting! I now have no excuse, here or at Olifants!

lesson # 5
Get kids to do homework really early in afternoon - or it simply doesn't get done! They seem to forget there is something called homework unless I get them to do it as soon as lunch is over. Otherwise come dinner time and we're trying to juggle homework and dinner and bathing etc.

Take more "everyday" photos. Lately all I seem to have are photos of our trips to Olifants. So I think I need to take the time to practise my photography more. i thin I'll start this Saturday with Reece's second cricket practise. he really seemed to enjoy it and is very enthusiastic!

lesson # 7
Make an effort to remember which "practise" or "practice" to use where - instead of just guessing!! I am reasonably good at spelling plus I have a bachelor's degree in English, so one would think that I would be able to remember!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm BACK!!! Yip, I have finally got back to the PC!! I've been painting, visiting the bush, got thru a very hectic school term 3 (including Shannon's Intermediate singing exam).

We've since had 3 visits to our house at Olifants and we look forward to the next visit the minute we leave the reserve to return home. Not sure when we'll get to go again as we have a few busy weekends coming up as well as Shannon's year-end exams and the term is also so short.
Our first visit was quite a task! I drove the Range Rover, Leon the bakkie and trailer and each vehicle was loaded to the brim with new linen, towels and goodness knows what else (except the kitchen sink!).

Corné and Kevin joined us with their kids for the first visit- thank goodness they could help us get everything sorted out.

We had the elephants behind the house pull over a tree and we had to get the rangers to move it (and the ellies) before we could go on our gamedrive.

On our next visit, Ian and Nikki drove down form Letsitele- such a quick 1 hour drive for them.

This was our 'ellie encounter' weekend!! We came across a breeding herd of around 50 ellies and theon young male decided we were not welcome and proceeded to mock charge us. We were relieved to eventually get out of that situation, even though we realised it was only a 'mock' charge, it was deifinitely real enough for us!! Shannon is now so scared of the elephants that she is wary of going on game drives at all.

Our third visit was a full 8 days of bushveld bliss! The kids were on school holidays and Leon took some time off work. Neal and Rika and mom visited for 3 days, then Graham, Rozanne and Scott joined us for the rest. Poor dad volunteered to look after the animals at home as we couldn't get anyone to 'babysit' at home. We had such a fabulous time. Saw so many animals. Ellies again made many appearances, yet thankfully, they were calm. We had a close encounter at hide dam with Graham & co. when a huge breeding herd walked down to drink and bath in thecdam while we were having lunch. We had to quickly make a hasty reverse out their way or we would have been surrounded by them.

It was amazing to watch the tiny baby calves bathing and playing in the dam.

Having spent more time there, we have now managed to clear out a lot of things and throw out stuff we didn't want. So the place is slowly becoming more the way I would like it. I'm looking forward to revamping it next year, but in the meantime I am planning the decorating and assembling all my ideas.

I start my art classes again tomorrow after a few weeks break over the holidays while Johan was away in Italy. I'm also looking forward to hear all about the Bi-centennial Art Expo in Venice that he took some students to. I have also got a few commissions from Ian - a contemporary sunset with elephants as well as a monochrome portait each of Calyleigh and Dee-Anne. I still need to complete the girl with the guitar I'm painting for Shannon's room at Olifants and then will start my task for art classes- a study of Baroque painting. I'm really looking forward to that. It's going to be a big challenge, but I know I'll learn a lot.

Today I also sent off my application for a spot on the Creative Team at Weeds and Wildflowers. I really hope I get accepted as I simply LOVE their digital designs!! I'm hoping this will be the way I'm going to get back into my scrapbooking again after being lazy for so long!

Gotta go now and do some stuff around the house and then pick up the kids.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

At this very moment, Leon is signing the documents to transfer Number 14 Olifants North into our name. So exciting! The kids are just as excited as we are. Shannon was so excited that she insisted on buying everything for her bedroom last weekend already. (Bearing in mind we've only ever seen the place once for about an hour and most of that time was spent out on the deck!)

Shannon has chosen orange (oh boy!??) for her room. Yip, bright sunshine orange! . I managed to tone the orange down with white bedlinen and two beige square ottomans. Even her bath towels are orange! At least it'll be bright and cheerful!

We have named each of the four bedrooms after a South African bird which is commonly found in the bushveld.
Shannon's bedroom will be called the "Gorgeous Bush-shrike" room because of the bright orange throat the bird has.
Reece opted for the "Little Bee-eater" room. So we've suitably chosen lime green as the accent colour in his room. I'll probably pair the green with a rich chocolate brown. His bathtowels are a neutral champagne colour. As yet we haven't purchased any other decor - so the cushions etc .will wait until we've had our first visit.

Our bedroom will be the "Woodlands Kingfisher" Room - with touches of blue-grey and the 4th bedroom will be the "Lilac-Breasted Roller" Room finished off with purple hues.

As with Reece's room, I will purchase all the other bedroom soft furnishings once we get back from our first visit. I am so looking forward to shopping for all the new goodies! We're probably going to redecorate the lounge too. We have a few ideas rolling around, but we can only finalise that once we've measured up the room to see what will fit.
This morning I went and stocked up on household essentials- cleaning stuff, herbs and spices, shower gels and liquid handsoaps etc for the bathrooms. At the moment the kitchen and guest bedroom look like we're a) moving house; b) starting a shop; or c) getting ready for Christmas!
It really has been so much fun planning and searching the stores for beautiful decor to compliment our little lodge in the bushveld. I'm planning on taking loads of photos of before and after as well as of the beautiful view and the fauna and flora. This is definitely going to be the start of a whole new way of life for us.
That's all for now until after we return from the long weekend....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Bush Lodge becomes a reality....

We are so excited! Yesterday we heard that our offer for the house in Olifants Private Game Reserve was accepted. We shall very shortly officially own our house in the bush! We should be able to go up next weekend already. We are fortunate that next weekend is the mid-term break for the kids at school so we have 2 extra days for the weekend.

We can't wait to go up and sort out the house, to see what needs replacing, repairing etc. We are looking forward to making it our home away from home. We already have so many ideas with regards decorating. Although it is fully furnished, we would like to put our personal stamp on it, making it our little African escape.

This has been Leon's dream for as long as I can remember. He always wanted to buy a farm, but after viewing Olifants, we decided that a lock-up-and-go is far more practical. Plus here we are in the bush, in Big 5 country, with no fences between our reserve and the Kruger National Park.
What more could you ask for? (Hopefully we won't have too many very close encounters with elephants!)

So this is now officially my first entry in the 'Olifants' category. The next one should be of our visit next weekend and should include loads of photos!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back home again...

We did end up visiting Ian & Nikki up in Letsitele over the weekend. As usual Nikki cooked up a storm and we had to roll home! The kids so enjoy seeing each other. Shannon had to sleep in Cayleigh's room with her as she says Dee-Anne always gets to have friends to sleep over and she never does (she is only 4!). Shannon crept into the bed next to hers some time after Cayleigh was fast asleep in Dreamland and the next morning she asked Shannon if she heard her trying to wake her up in the night. (She hadn't). Obviously Cayleigh wanted to check to see that her cousin had in fact kept to her promise of sleeping over in her room!
On Sunday morning we took a drive up to Olifants nature Reserve to have a look at property there. We found a gorgeous place in Olifants North - what peace and tranquility! Although there hasn't been much peace and tranquility at home since as we have been debating eversince whether or not to make the purchase!

Here are a few photos:

The view over Olifants Nature Reserve from the patio

The game viewing vehicle in carport.

The boma adjacent to the house.

Shannon took these photos with her 'new' camera. When Leon bought his Nikon, he sold his Panasonic to my mom and she gave her old digital camera to Shannon. Shan naturally thinks she is the bees knees as she now gets to snap away at whim!
I am amazed - she isn't too bad! Occasionally she ends up with blurred shots but mostly her photos are in focus and some are quite good.

Here are a few photos I took at Buffalo Thorn Lodge on our game drives...

I love fiddling around with my photos in Photoshop once I've downloaded them. Sometimes I think, maybe it's 'cheating' a bit to tweak them here and there, but then again - if it makes for a better result - why not?

Here's an example :

Before :

After :

The result- a brighter image with more of the sunset hues moving down onto the trees and Impalas. This I did by adjusting the contrast, levels and colour in 2 different layers. I then erased parts of the bottom half to end up with a photo where the Impala, trees and the sunset are better exposed. I love the warm 'African sunset' tones in the resultant photo. I think there is an improvement- but that's just my subjective opinion.

Well I'd better go get some stuff done around the house now. The kids are back at school, so the holiday is officially over and I need to try to get back into routine!

Bye for now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baubles, Beads and a touch of Bling.....

After depleting all the usual school holiday activities like going to the movies, visiting friends, having friends over, a quick weekend away to a Game farm, hiring DVD's and watching them with freshly popped popcorn..... etc. etc..., I was stuck again.

Shannon was quick to suggest that she and I go shopping at our local beadshop and stock up on supplies and get creative.

We went to a new shop I discovered- not all that close to home actually, but totally worth the travel distance. Beads for You is a huge shop filled to the brim with all sorts of Baubles, Beads and Bling.

We filled our shopping basket with fresh water pearls and some gorgeous Swarowski crystals to make a pretty necklace and bracelet for my friend's birthday. Shannon would have chosen everything in the shop if she could, but in the end she settled for some pretty blue flower shaped beads with matching round ones and some linked silver chain.

She couldn't wait to get started on her new project. She made a necklace and bracelet, each with pretty drops of the beads hanging off of them.

We kept Reece busy by hiring a Playstation Game for him while we beaded to our hearts content. (Though he did find the small pliers quite fascinating!- Gotta keep an eye on those coz next he'll be searching for something to use them for.)

Yesterday Shannon wanted to show her friends how to bead, so they came over for tea, beading and lunch and then more tea. They really enjoyed the beading and we had a yummy veggie soup for lunch - perfect for the cold wintery day we experienced yesterday.

Now all Shan wants to do is bead some more! So I guess another visit to the bead shop will be on the cards in the near future. I must admit I'm rather enjoying it too. I want to make a nice little stash of completed beaded trinkets which I can grab in an instant as an impromptu gift. I think a handmade necklace, bracelet or even a key tassle is a great hostess gift to take along when invited out to dinner.

My maid, Judith, saw me beading earlier today and she is hooked! So I am going to buy her a few basic tools and some beads and thread to get her going. I'll give her a lesson tomorrow and she can then make her own jewelry which she can sell for extra money. She is so excited to get stuck in over the weekend and wants to teach her daughter too. I think Judith will actually make some gorgeous things, she is so interested in fashion that I think she will take to beading naturally - {watch this space!}

My poor husband is sick with flu. Leon has also been really busy at work this week so he hasn't had much time to feel sorry for himself. Today he only went in this morning for a bit and came home early to get into bed. We were supposed to go up to visit my brother and his family in Letsitele tomorrow, but with Leon being sick, we've had to postpone it. We're hoping we may still go up on Friday, but return early Monday morning. Fortunately the kids only go back to school on Tuesday, a day later than the other schools, so we'll have the extra day. Four hours simply too far to drive for just Friday to Sunday (well that's our opinion anyway- my brother has driven down here and back home again in one day before-crazy!).

Now I'm going to pack up the Laptop, run a nice hot bubble bath, and crawl into bed with my book.... Mmmm sounds good.

{Will post some pics here soon of the beading and some shots of our weekend in Pilanesberg}

Veronica xx

Sunday, July 5, 2009

At last the July school holidays are upon us. In fact, the kids have been on holiday for a week now already. We're off to Buffalo Thorn Lodge in the Pilanesberg this weekend for 2 nights. Really looking forward to getting away and also looking at the property there. We're going with Corné and Kevin and their kids, so at least the kids will be entertained and we can simply relax and enjoy the bush.

I'm hoping to get stuck into my photography next weekend too - crossing fingers I'll have some willing children to pose for photos! (Yeah, like that's going to happen!!)

The following week we'll be off to Ian & Nikki to visit them on the farm for a few days. We haven't been up to Lesitele for months - so we do owe them a visit!

Shannon's singing concert went off really well - her term mark was 84%. She has really begun to perform well on stage - I can't believe how she has changed from the shy little 9 year old singing "Tomorrow". Next term she has loads of work cut out for her.

She has the Centurion Eistedfodd starting 5 August until 17th August. Then September she has her Damelin Intermediate singing exam as well as the school concert.
Besides all this, she has to keep up with her school work! So I am definitely going to have my hands full this next term.

On Friday morning we went to see the Pretoria Youth Theatre's production of sleeping Beauty. The kids enjoyed it as Tayla Catterick and Tarryn James are at school and do singing with Shannon. The production was really well done and the kids really are talented. Their dancing, singing and acting was really superb and they put on a really enjoyable show.
I think it's something Shannon could get involved in quite happily, but we'll wait a while as she is still a bit young to handle all the reharsing as well as her school work.

I've done no scrapbooking at all since the PC bombed out. I simply don't feel the urge to scrapbook. And I'm amazingly ok with that! I seem to be enjoying my painting a whole lot more nowadays. I also visited a bead shop and made myself a string of fresh water pearls and swarowski crystals - quite relaxing - so I might just make a few more.

Off to get the day going.....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A new Laptop, an old PC, and a new toy....

Wow, a month has gone past already! Finally I am happy to report that I now have a Laptop - a brand spanking new shiny black Laptop with oodles of memory for me to do all my digi stuff!

My PC crashed again just short of a month ago. Fortunately, once again we were able to salvage my precious photos. This time, however, I'm taking no chances. I went a bought a USB driven external hardrive, so I have begun the arduous task of copying my photos from my old PC onto the External Drive so that I can eventually sort through them and move some to the Laptop.

I am also adding tags to the photos as well as to all my digi kits at the same time - hoping to be better organized on my Laptop and thus making it easier to find everything!

I must say, I am enjoying being able to sit and update my blog while sitting in bed after a nice hot bath. Instead of reading or (occasionally) watching TV, I can now catch up here.

I started ANOTHER photography course 3 weeks ago. I really wasn't expecting to learn much more than I had before on previous courses, but still hoped that I would gain something at least- if not, I would still have the opportunity to have coffee and cake and a few giggles and gossip with my friends.
Now I must admit that up till now, I have only occasionally delved into the mysterious confusing world of using the 'manual' mode on my faithful Canon. I can't say it has been met with much success. After just one lesson, I have clicked! , the penny dropped and I have simply 'got it'!

I am by no means a pro yet, but I am quite confident that I could get some really good photos shot in 'manual' with a little effort, patience, perseverence - and subjects that {1} sit still; {2} don't complain about the sun in their eyes or being bored or hungry; {3} refrain from barking or chasing the cat; or {4} require monetary compensation or some or other bribe.........and don't mind me fiddling around with the settings while they wait patiently.

The lesson I enjoyed the most, was last week - our assignment due for this Friday, is to take one HIGH KEY photo and one LOW KEY photo, which we will later change to black and white.

I have wanted to get this right for so long now. I have tried before, but not as successfully. I now really feel as though I am getting the hang of how the camera works. How to use the light coming into the lens to my advantage and to use it to create artistic photos- not just simple snapshots.

It's always great to be able to snap away in "Auto" to grab those essential snapshots, silently hoping there'll be one or two really great shots - which sometimes there are. "Manual" is an entirely different thing- I am in control! Yay! I can figure this little machine out, how it {clicks} and how to get the best results from it I can!
I have found a new toy.....

Here's my High Key pic {of my daughter's Build-a-Bear} - this obliging subject sat perfectly still!

Oh boy, did I have fun! here's the black & white version :

Poor Reece, he was sick in bed with flu and I asked him ever so nicely to stand at the bedroom window so that I could play around with a Low key shot. Poor child- he was so obliging! {and he was feeling perkier at the time}.

Here's the resultant Low-key pics....

So that's what I've been busy with of late and as soon as I've completed moving across all my files, I'm going to continue with some paper scrapping again! Yip, I feel the urge to get all touchy-feely again!
Plus I am really enjoying my oil painting, and I have so much I want to paint... but that's another story.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

{How cute is this?}

I discovered these gorgeous cute printable confection goodies over at . Designed by Shabby Princess. These are just too cute for kids parties, Easter table decorations and what about Mother's Day? With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, these are so perfect! Don't you just love those little paper trims for cupcakes?Plus - on sale now for $2.95!! {Image is clickable}.

On the topic of cupcakes, I baked the most yummy ones yesterday! I am off to art class shortly and it's my turn to take along a coffee-break treat. So cupcakes it is! I found a really good recipe in the latest Your Family magazine which is simply delicious!
The cakes are really light and spongey. I topped them off with a cream cheese frosting which I discovered at All Recipes on the net. You can find the recipe here . I halved the recipe and it iced 24 cupcakes easily. I used Lancewood Cream cheese for the recipe. 1 package is enough for 1/2 the icing recipe. {8 ounces is equivalent to 1 cup (250ml)}. I added the juice of 1/2 a lemon and the zest of 1 lemon to the icing. I piped the icing onto each cake and then sprinkled a little extra lemon zest ontop. Just adds a little 'zing' to the frosting.

I plan on making these for mother's Day on Sunday, finishing them off with these cute paper trims!

Here's the recipe for the cupcakes: Yum!!

3 eggs
180ml sugar
125ml boiling water
100ml oil
5ml vanilla essence
250ml cake flour, sifted
10ml baking powder

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (375F)
Place 24 paper cupcake liners in cupcake pan. (Helps them to retain their shape).
Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and creamy.
Mix together the boiling water, oil and vanilla essence.
Sift flour and baking powder together.
While mixing, add a scoop of the flour mixture , alternating with a splash of the water & oil mixture, continuing until both mixtures are used up.
Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for around 12-14 minutes.
Allow to cool and then ice with the very yummy and 'moreish' cream cheese frosting.

Happy baking!

PS: I have separated my Life365 from this blog - you can find it here. I plan on documenting my everyday life here and posting my layouts of my Project 365. Pixels and Paperie will from now on just be about my creative side.....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Busy little bee here....

Yip that's why I haven't posted for AGES! I have decided that from next week I really need to get back to regular posting! Call it my 'new month resolution' - for May (let's hope it lasts until June LOL!

Been on away on holiday to Kommetjie in the Cape - what a beautiful spot! Haven't even downloaded the photos yet so really need to get cracking with that, then I'll share more of our holiday.

Celebrated my 40th, Reece's 8th birthday, Shannon's 12th birthday and Leon's 46th birthday all in the first few weeks of April. I was so spoilt on my birthday. Leon took the day off work and took me shopping at Jenna Clifford. Now let me explain... He does not like to buy me jewelry as he feels it is a waste of money. (I don't have the same opinion!) Being my 40th, I guess he decided to spoil me. So I even got to choose, as he said he didn't know what I would like. What a fantastic morning- had breakfast at Baobab at Menlyn Park, and then went to JC. I chose aa gorgeous pendant with Tanzanite and tiny diamonds, as well as matching earrings. Even the packaging was so beautiful! So spoilt!

Three days after getting back from holiday I had Reece and Shannon's birthday parties-on the same day! Fortunately Shannon only had 3 friends to sleep over in a 'campout' party. Reece had 15 friends over in the morning for his much anticipated 007 party. More about that once the pics have been downloaded.

I am now busy with the final arrangements for my 40th birthday party. I have decided to keep it small, but want something really nice. I wanted to go all out with the decor, but the events company I wanted to use wanted to charge me the equivalent of the cost of a new (way-too-expensive) Mac laptop I have my eye on (-nuff said). So I've gone with another hiring company and will be doing everything myself. Perhaps not as 'over the top' as the events company decor, but hey, it'll still look good.

Yesterday we had lunch at Kevin & Corne and Kevin volunteered to help set up a compilation of 80's music on Corné's laptop using their i-tunes. We tested it last night, and it works perfectly on our surround-sound in the Summerhouse where we'll have the party. So at least we're going to have an awesome 80's party! Yay!

Yesterday was also voting day. Leon had registered at our local area voting station. For the love of me I don't know why I didn't go when he did. So of course yesterday evening when we went to vote, I had to stand in a queue, where he just walked in, voted and walked out.
Then we discovered you could only vote using your ID book, no passports were accepted and I had brought my passport along. (duh!). Turned out I had my ID in my bag all along! Then they ran out of ballot papers and we decided then and there that we were not going to wait any longer. An hour in the Q already had been too long. So Leon voted and I didn't (first time ever that I didn't vote). He decided that it was ok - he voted at least - for both of us.

Tonight is the Grand opening of the new (very-long-awaited) school hall. And, I have nothing to wear. So I'm off very shortly to try hire something...
Chat soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shannon performed so well last night. Unfortunately she wasn't chosen to go through to the finals, but she did her best and sang her heart out. The competition was so tough, I'm glad I wasn't a judge! We realised when we got there that in fact these were the semi finals for the whole country- there were kids from all over, so I think getting into the semi finals was a great achievement on its own, effectively she was therefore in the top 39 country wide and there apparently were 3000 entries! So there's a proud mom here! Shannon is (understandably) disappointed, but after all, this was her first major competition and I think she has learned so much and her singing & performance have improved so much as a result.

Next Saturday is her singing school's concert and she has encouraged so many kids from school to also take lessons, so it'll be fun for her having her friends taking part too.

Back to real life again now- all the hype is over and we have only one week left of school till the kids break for the April holidays! Yay!! I'm so looking forward to our trip to Cape Town! We leave on 4 April, returning on 14th, the day before the kids go back to school for the 2nd semester. I plan to do and see as much as we can while we're there as well as spend at least a few of the days simply relaxing on the beach - weather permitting! Already, the Cape has had a taste of 2 cold fronts - hinting that Autumn is officially here and Winter is approaching.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The BIG day!

Yip, today is the Gauteng & Cape provincial finals for the Dros Kidz Superstar singing competition. As usual, I'm nervous, but I am far more excited. I am really looking forward to this afternoon. There are 37 kids taking part, so it's going to be tough to get through to the Nationals. Shannon is also looking forward to it - she seems to take it in her stride and I think my nerves (tho I try not to show them) drive her mad (I tend to fuss a lot!).
Shan is doubly thrilled as (1) she gets to leave school early today at 12h30 so we can pick up a revised backtrack from Lindy (her teacher) and run through the song again once more, and (2) she has got her Social Scieneces test moved to Tuesday next week- for her and for her faithful groupies, her friend Mégane and her cousin, Scott.

We need to be in Midrand at 15h00/ 15h30 as the competition starts at 16h00 - I guess they just have so many kids to get through that they need to start earlier. Gonna be a long day!
Here she is performing at the Menlyn final on Monday....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Proud mom, nervous mom & excited mom....

Yes I am so proud! My little eleven year-old girl, Shannon, won the regional round of the Dros Kidz Super Stars competition! (For anyone who doesn't know- the Dros is a family restaurant chain) She did the best performance she has ever done! As I watched her, I could not believe it was the same child her started singing 3 years ago. The shyness had completely vanished and she took to the stage like a natural! Even if she doesn't get further than this round, I will still be so happy for her- her eyes literally sparkled with joy when she won!

And oh boy am I nervous & excited now too! She will compete tomorrow night (19 March) at the Dros in Midrand in the semi-finals (provincial round). They select 6-7 kids (as far as I know) to go through to the finals on 1st of April at the Silver Lakes Dros. I am beyond excited coz if she does go through, that happens to be the date of my 40th birthday! My niece says it's fate- and has already decided that Shannon will be in the finals. Well we're all rooting for her of course and praying that she is selected.

Shannon of course is really excited about the competition- especially due to the fact that the winner receives R100 000 in prizes! This includes a recording contract - she dreams everyday of recording her own CD!

So that's our exciting news at the moment!

I have almost finished my "Blue Dancers" painting - I'll glaze it next week and then also start my monochromatic paintings - I want to do two small square portraits in sepia tones of each of the kids. I'm really looking forward to that!

Last week we visited the gorgeous village of Franschhoek for 4 days. Our friends, Neal & Rika, invited us to join them from Wednesday till Saturday at the Franschhoek Country House. We stayed in one of the villa suites. What an absolute treat! It really is probably the most amazing place I have ever stayed in! It beats staying at the Palace of the Lost city by far!
Our friend, Mandy who manages a large liquor store, arranged private tours at two wine estates. What fun! We first visited Haute Cabriere, with its infamous Pierre Jourdan sparkling wine - made in the French Méthode Cap Classique. We ended up having a fabulous lunch in the restaurant there afterwards. Needless to say it was quite an inebriating day! Enough said!

The next day we visited L'Ormorins - owned by the Rupert family. Wow- what an estate! After a vineyard tour, we went on a cellar tour. They were harvesting so it was really interesting. The grapes were being moved in small crates from the vineyard (to avoid being pressed too much) into refrigerators while waiting to be hand sorted (the green stems and over-ripe berries are removed). After that, the conveyor belt moves them through a machine which lightly crushes the grapes as these particular ones had very strong skins and needed help bursting during the fermentation process. Fermentation takes place in new French oak barrels which cost around R9000 each. So the slightly crushed berries are poured straight into the barrels. They also add dry ice which helps to keep any oxygen out the barrel so the grapes cannot oxidise.

The natural yeast on the berries (grey powdery residue on skins) is the only yeast they use at L'Ormorins to ferment the berries. They believe in keeping everything as natural as possible. From not adding minerals etc to the soil and only using the minimum amount of pesticides. In fact they rely on birds to help with insects and feel that even if the birds also eat the berries, it doesn't matter as they prefer quality grapes over quantity. So interesting!

After going through the cellar, we tasted some wine - and bought some- and then ended off with a tour of the Franschhoek Motor Museum where we saw some 300 cars housed in 3 large barn-style rooms. As much as I have really not much interest in cars, I found the museum really interesting. The cars ranged from some of the first cars ever made right up to the 2002 Enzo Ferrari (I think there were only 3 made if my memory serves me correctly). The cost of each car and the entire collection is simply not up for topic there. We were told that the one particular Mercedes (forget the model now), was bought on auction for R17 million rand on auction (around $1.7 million)- and that's just ONE car!

Reece is sick at home today with a cold-so he is here nagging me, so I'd better go. Will post photos later of Franschhoek and of Shannon singing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Painting; a leaking pipe & the need (not desire) to sort out my Driver's License.....

I have to blog more! I was so good in the beginning, but lately, since the PC went on the blink, I seem to be trying to catch up with so much scrapping that I have neglected my little blog life here.

Today I continued my painting of Edgar Degas' Blue Dancers. I loved this painting last week, this week - well lets just say I am going through a bit of a "love-hate" relationship with it. I am tired of all the blue and flesh colours and really need to get it finished so I can at least move on to a fresh new colour palette - and a different subject matter. Ultimately I think I'll end up loving the painting, but once you have blended 2 blues with black, white and 2 browns- you can expect to tire of these colours!

Here's a peek at the original :
I absolutely love Degas' paintings. I have done one of his 'bathers' before and so enjoyed it.

This one we tried using a more monochromatic colour scheme, but ended up adding more colours than one would traditionally use for monochrome paintings. At the moment it still has much less colours than this one (the original), but I think I will still add the burnt orange touches afterward as I love the warmth it brings to the painting. I will post a pic of mine here once complete.

I saw a lot of Degas' paintings in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris 2 years ago. They are actually quite a bit smaller than I imagined them to be. Also, most either were done entirely in pastel, or a combination of other mediums like gouache, or oil with pastels.
As a result, the paintings are now kept behind glass in an extremely dark room to preserve them by protectiong them from bright light. So my plans to take photos of them went flying out the (non-existent) windows in the museum! No flashes are (understandably) allowed and the room really was extremely dark.
Off the subject of art, but not entirely off painting- this time painting the house! Which is what we're going to have to do very soon as we now have discovered what we think is a leaking pipe on the jacuzzi balcony off our bathroom. The resultant wet walls in the laundry and kitchen are what alerted us to this fact! So tomorrow Leon will call the insurance company - coz hey, we simply cannot keep forking more money out on maintenance for the house! It's now time to call in the cavalry, so to speak.

Tomorrow I also have the unfortunate hassle of having to sort out my driver's license. Yes- not renew- but rather sort out! As it was renewed a year ago and I still don't have a copy of my new license! (Okay, I do leave things until I really just can't anymore!! ) I have been wanting to go eversince we realised that my license was not arriving in the post. Leon & I went together in February last year - stood in the HEAT in a VERY LONG queue!!! FOR FOUR (4!!!) hours!!! Only to have his sent to him, and mine has never arrived!!!

I have prepared myself that I may just have to go through the whole episode again - eyetests and all as I'm sure my application simply landed on someone's desk who threw it into 'file 13' (aka the dustbin!) Okay, I am not going to be pessimistic- let's hope it is filed under H for Hurly instead and I simply can collect it with only a few minutes of time wasted tomorrow! (Yeah, sure - and it might snow tomorrow here too!) Added to all of this, our local driver's license offices are useless and always way too busy, so I'll be driving about 40min out of town to Rayton to collect mine.

So that's my morning. The afternoon will be a case of fetching and carrying kids at different times from school again - I pick Shannon up at 13h30 (no compulsory school sport tomorrow due to a gala), then take her home. Reece must be collected an hour later at 14h30. Then I must take him home. Give them both lunch and get homework going. Shannon needs to be back at school again at 16h00 for a tennis lesson. I'll have to drop her off, and my mom will have to collect her again at 16h30 as Reece has to be at swimming 15 min drive away from the school by 16h30 for his lesson. Have I ever mentioned that I dislike the car intensely?
[Hopefully by the afternoon of loads of driving, I'll at least have some sort of driver's license!]

In between all this, I'm hoping to get Week 8 finished of my Life 365 photo a day challenge. I even missed out on the incentive this week as I simply ran out of time to finish Week 8 in time. I am determined to complete weeks 9 and 10 in time for the next incentive - even though I should already be busy with Week 9 already.
Here's my Week 7 : 12-18 February. (I work Thursday to Wednesday each week as the 1st of January was a Thursday this year).

Gosh, I just noticed that I put 12-19 on here instead of 12-18 February! Luckily I can fix that as I saved the .psd file as well as the .jpeg! (Note to self- don't forget to do this!)
Well that's me all up to date now- except foe the fact that I've skipped a couple of weeks in between LOL! Oh well- one can't do everything!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just some catching up....

It's been ages since I was here! What's been going on in my life lately... Mmmm

Shannon entered the Dros Kidz Super Star competition through her school. She competed in the first round against 10 other kids from Woodhill on Monday 23 Feb. She was one of the 6 chosen to go through to the next round where they will compete against another school for 1 place in the Gauteng Regionals. So it's off to the Dros in Menlyn again on Monday 9 Feb. {Holding thumbs and praying she gets thru to the regionals- it'll be so fantastic!!} The regionals will be on 16 March at Dros Midrand and then the National Finals are on 1 April at the Silverlakes Dros. Maybe it's a good sign that the finals are actually on my 40th birthday! There is so much talent out there that it's going to be tough, but just the experience of entering a big competition is great for her anyway.

I just wish she studied to pass Grade 6 as well as she sailed through learning her next set of lyrics! Grrrrr - I feel lately as though I need to pass Grade 6 {and Grade 2 for that matter} all over again. I have summarised, asked questions and find myself repeating the HSS or Natural Science to myself as I'm falling asleep! But Shannon- I bet the little diva is dreaming of her next performance as she drifts off!

Reece luckily hasn't got to the stage where he needs help with serious studying. He has weekly spelling words which are tested each Friday. {And that's enough!!} I'm hoping that by the time he needs help in Grade 4 with his tests that Shannon is well into High School & no longer needs help! I'm really tired of studying - but I guess you've gathered that by now!

I hosted Bookclub at home this morning. Can't say I was in the mood, but in the end it was fun seeing everyone and chatting about everything & nothing. At least this month it wasn't just Rozanne, Belinda & I - there were actually 8 of us! I have been reading The Venetian (something or other- I forget the name) by Steve Berry. Quite interesting with loads of historical references to Alexander The Great - pretty much akin to The DaVinci Code - with a fairly complicated storyline that has many twists and turns. I have kept out 2 other books which are a lot lighter & should hold up to the many interruptions by kids, husband etc that I seem to be subjected to every time I pick up a book to read.

Still toying with the idea of my 40th Birthday this year. Do I let it slip by quietly or do I have a nice big bash with great 80's music & pretty decor, great food and my close friends? The second option really sounds more fun than ignoring the event completely....we'll have to decide soon as time is ticking by. {tick....tick....tick....}

Ooh- I recently won a $10 gift certificate from Weeds & Wildflowers for the Blog weekly challenge {every Monday} for last week- I did a Valentine's themed layout for it- take a peek by looking at my Scrapbook slideshow- it's called "Always my Valentine" - I had fun doing this one {especially since I can go shopping now for more digi stuff!}

Oh -$*^%$(&^)&^ - 'scuse the &^%(&^%&, but my mouse won't work!!!! If it's not one thing, it's another.... Salt chlorinator in the pool; internet connection; whole computer bombed; central vacuum system won't suck in any air; irrigation system need the valves repaired; oh, and before all that, the electric gate wouldn't work for a couple of days until we discovered that Leon had switched it off when he switched the pool off when the chlorinator stopped working!

So now that I need to use my arrow keys to navigate here, I think I'm simply going to call it a night and rather go read my book before going to sleep! G'night...

Okay - I'll go now once I figure out how to get down to the 'Publish' button without a mouse!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hey- I'm back!! At last!!!

It has now officially been close to 2 weeks without my computer!! I missed being able to do my Project 365 layouts and I desperately needed to download some lyrics for Shannon so she can practise her singing, but other than that (besides blogging), I managed to do without this little machine.
I have to admit I was a little stressed (okay, a lot!) over my 25GB-odd of photos which were in my harddrive which crashed shortly after my internet connection was repaired. Fortunately my photos were all OK and I have learned my lesson- I start the arduous task of backing up everything, and I mean EVERYTHING tomorrow!
Thanks to a friend of mine, Dylan, he managed to salvage my computer and all it's precious cargo and this ship is sailing once more! Well off to go ask Shannon questions on her Geography for the test tomorrow - will catch up soon on news of the past 2 weeks......

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yay! Internet is back and running again!! Leon thinks it's wonderful when I can't go online, but I really rely on the net for so many things. Simple things like looking up something for Shannon's homework, or paying for our holiday accommodation; everyday things which are made so much more convenient with the internet. Of course I also use the internet to feed my {addiction} to digital scrapbooking {and blogging!}.

Here's my latest Life 365 layout-

I'm really loving this project (did I mention that before?). Well it's true, I feel as though I have got something accomplished. Each week as I finish my layout, I am thrilled to see I am actually keeping up! (Which is something I rarely do!). How many times I have actually started off with something and never completed it - I have lost count. Well this time, I'm going to keep at it - and so long as there aren't too many interferences along the way, I'll be finishing off my weekly layout on time!

Speaking of interferences, the new Weekly Blog challenge at Weeds & Wildflowers is to scrap something which has interfered with taking your daily photo. Something beyond your control which has thrown you a curve ball and disrupted your life, even if to a small extent. I love this challenge as life is not always perfect, does not always go according to plan, and this only helps one to deal with those everyday hurdles.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Well I'm certainly back into Blog mode again, it seems! It's still raining and this may be just what caused a little visitor to appear in my lounge this morning. Our maid, Judith found it in the corner near the window, all curled up. Needless to say, there were some shrieks and squeals once she discovered it was not a lizard nor a frog, but rather a 30cm odd snake.

We do live on a plot in the countryside surrounded by lots of natural veld grass, so I guess we have to expect these critters from time to time. But they certainly give me the heebies and I have been watching the ground everywhere I walk all morning! Fortunately this one is a common Red-lipped Herald (aka Herald snake in the Cape Province), which is not at all poisonous- in fact, according to a website I found (I forget the name), this little guy can even become so tame he will eat out your hand! (I don't think I'll try though!) They eat frogs (their favourite), lizards and mice. Eeeeeuw! (To think of hand feeding equally as freaky food to such a freaky critter makes me shiver!) (Sorry - I can take spiders anyday over snakes or frogs!)

One bonus was I finally have a (kind of) interesting photo for today's Photo for my Project365! Judith thought it was very funny that I first ran for the camera before I allowed our gardener to take the snake away.

Here's a photo of it once he herded it outside into the back courtyard. Unfortunately he injured it when he took it out the house, so he had to kill it. (If I had anything to do with it, he would have killed it anyway- but my DH won't have even the poisonous ones harmed! Ok- I'm not that bad- I actually don't like harming little critters, I just simply don't want them around!!!).

"Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others"

- Robert Louis Stephenson

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My goodness- 20 days of no posts! I really was determined to post more often on my blog this year! At least I've posted more than last year!

What I have kept up with is my Project 365 over at Weeds & Wildflowers. I have got the Life365 Tool Kit from Gina Marie and I participate in all the challenges I can (& those my unsteady internet connection is allowing!!) . I am all caught up to last week. Just need to finish off this week's layout, then I'm on track again! I love the incentives Gina Marie sends out each Monday, so I am determined to finish off each and every layout in time to post by Sunday/Monday.

Oh my word, it is now POURING with rain here again! Thought it was done for the day, the sun even peeked it's head out at lunch time, but now we're all wet and misty out again.

Yesterday Shannon's tennis lessons were rained out, she was not a happy camper! She was so looking forward to her private lesson with Erda which she started last week.

Here's hoping the sun shines over the weekend. We're planning on taking the kids somewhere for the day on Sunday - a nice relaxing family outing. The kids suggested going to Gold Reef City - but we certainly aren't keen on such a hectic place! I'll still do some research to find somewhere good.

Leon's still training intensely for the Two Oceans - he played squash yesterday and then had to go for physio today for his back- perhaps he is overdoing things just a little? He has now decided too that we should join him down in Cape Town for the race in April. So I'm looking for accommodation from the 6th - 14the April. The kids go back to school on the 15th and the race is 11th, so I have to fit in around those dates. Not sure if we'll find anything still as it is the Easter weekend.

Here are a few of my latest layouts :

I love this photo of my cat- he completely takes over our lives! When I'm in my studio, I often find him curled up somewhere, but heck, the copy machine?

"It's not easy being a Princess"

This layout was a "Recipe Challenge" at WW on the blog for this week. Such fun following the ingredients for what had to be used on the layout. I did a paper layout years ago for a class I taught, but decided to use the cute photo again....

Here are my first 3 weeks of Project 365: