Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Rambling about Beauty

Good morning, world! Or, by the time I upload this, good afternoon.

Looking in the mirror this morning, I noticed my eyebrows. They're not as attention-seeking as my great-grandfather's were, by a long shot, but I somehow managed to notice them anyway. I don't usually pay a lot of attention to my eyebrows, mostly because I don't need to, but also because I really don't care about my eyebrow thickness anymore. I used to, when I was younger.

I took a picture of my eyebrows this morning. The sun was in my eyes...

I think it's interesting how people are affected by beauty standards without realizing it. And everybody is affected, whether they like it or not. The poppie cheerleading teenager who wakes up an hour early for school to do her hair and make-up is an obvious example of a person affected by beauty standards, but tomboys and care-free hippies are just as affected... Especially those who try, intentionally, to fight those standards. Psychologically, your ideas of beauty and your awareness of other people's ideals can build you up or wear you down emotionally, and it doesn't just wear down the people who think they aren't beautiful, those who KNOW that they're beautiful can be bothered by it, too...

Okay, enough. I don't feel like going too much into the psychology of beauty right now. Not that I know enough about it to write an educated post about it, anyway. What I felt like saying about this is that at the end of the day, what matters less is whether you know you're beautiful or not, according to society's standards. What matters more is knowing what to care about. Don't care about what strangers think about your looks. Don't even worry too much about what your loved ones care about your looks. (Mostly because they care more about you than about what you look like... Or at least they should.) And don't worry about what your partner thinks, either - because the chances are pretty big that having chosen to be with you, they think you're beautiful - so you don't need to question that.

My hair is usually a lot messier
than this in the morning...
Care about what YOU think about yourself. If you think that you're beautiful, that's what counts. If you like yourself more with plucked eyebrows, then pluck them. If you like the way that you look in skinny jeans, then wear them. Stop caring about whether you're following a trend or not, and just listen to what makes you feel good.

To wrap up this post, I feel beautiful this morning. I like my long hair that gets in the way when I sleep, I like my eyebrows in their scraggly state (sometimes I pluck those hairs in the middle, but most of the time I just don't care about them), and I like the way that my skin gets all weird and lined in the night from lying on the creases on my pillow. Everything is a part of me and what makes me who I am, and I think it's all beautiful.

I sure did get up on the right side of the bed this morning... So yes: a Good Morning, indeed!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Why I've Been So Quiet

Good grief, I haven't written anything for my blog in quite a while. I do have a valid excuse though - promise! And it's a pretty great one, at that.

I've been writing for money again! I'm getting paid R20 for 100 words, and I'm writing articles about cars. Exciting, isn't it? (By the way, that wasn't a sarcastic rhetorical question, just a rhetorical question. Making money while not waitressing is very exciting!) Francois and I have been doing this job together. He does the majority of the research, and I write the articles. We make a great team. We've just finished the first batch of articles, and are eagerly awaiting our next task.

Since the Easter holiday is over, things are getting pretty quiet at work again. And since I'll be taking two weeks off next month, this extra work couldn't have come at a better time.

On to the next line of thought: It seems that Francois and I have started a trend. We moved to Wilderness at the end of 2013, because hey, have you seen the place? There's a reason why somebody started calling this area Eden... We love it here, it's beautiful, it's natural, it suits us perfectly. Anyway, Francois' mom is moving here shortly as well (in about a week or two), having found an awesome job in the area. And a friend has found work right in George at a game development studio! So he'll be moving here next month. Chances are that Francois' brother will move down eventually, too. Everybody is coming to the Garden Route!

Just a reminder that this is our garden.

The Garden Route, where you get awesome animals visiting you in your garden, out of the blue. I like where we live.

Speaking of gaming studios... That same studio is looking to hire artists. Francois has sent them his portfolio, and now we are holding thumbs and crossing fingers so tight that we're getting pins and needles. It would be AMAZING for him to get hired by them. So hold your thumbs, too!

Well, I'm not in a very energetic writing mood tonight. Load shedding had us powerless today, so we went off to the mall in search of food and coffee (with shopping happening along the way, unfortunately) and we ended up spending way too much time there.

Malls exhaust me, physically, but mostly mentally... So creative writing is not exactly high on my list of priorities right now. However, making soup is VERY high on that list, so that is what I plan to do next - chicken soup. With some pumpkin (which we still have a quarter of) and some carrots that aren't tasty enough to eat on their own.

Okay. We're all out of data already, so I'm going to head over to the Hoekwil Café now. They're closed already, but their Wi-Fi stays on 24/7, so I'm going to sit outside in the car while I upload this post.

Goodnight, all!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

How To Make a Toasted Sandwich

I know that most people think that they know how to make toasted sandwiches, but there are often very important steps that get left out, and today I plan to set things right, for the sake of toasted sandwiches everywhere.

So without further ado, here's how to make the bestest toasted sarmie everrrr!

Step One: Get Yourself a Beverage 

Thanks for the cool drinks, Janine!
This step is the first and most important step. It's useful for psychological reasons, moral support, something like that... Especially when the refreshment of your choice contains a small amount of alcohol. Mine contains gin and dry lemon.

Step Two: Quickly Tidy Up

Squeaky clean, like it always is.
This is another vitally important step. Especially if you plan to take pictures of the process of making toasted sammiches, and then upload them onto the internet, where everybody can then see what your stove looks like. Lots of Handy Andy was involved.

Step Three: Equip Thine Self

Pan, check. Cheese, check. Eggs, check. Bacon, CHECK!
To make excellent toasted sandwiches, you need certain tools. These include a pan with a wobbly handle, a spatula, and your ingredients.

Step Four: Heat Things Up

There it is, getting hot and steamy in the microwave.
I like to heat a bowl up so the bacon stays warm while the eggs fry. So I put a tiny bit of water in a bowl in the microwave for about two minutes on high.

Step Five: Makin' Bacon! 

Put butter in the pan. Make bacon. Be sad that it always shrinks as it cooks. But be happy that it will stay warm in your bowl, because you thought ahead. What a clever girl you are! Ahem. I mean, yes, thank me for that tip in the comments, if you like.

Step Six: Get the Eggs Going 

I didn't break any yolks! I deserve a medal for that.
I only eat one egg on each of my sandwiches, but Francois likes two on each one. (He's a growing boy, you know.) I do them sunny side up with soft yolks, letting them cook slowly while I move onto other preparations. I grated the cheese earlier, but there's still other stuff to do...

Step Seven: Do the Other Stuff 

Other stuff like spreading the bestest jam everrr onto the bestest sandwiches everrrr. Grammy and I made this apricot jam together. I'd never made jam before, and Grammy showed me how it's done.

I put a little bit of mayonnaise on the other side, because mayonnaise.

The next step is so important, that if you ignore it, the world just may come to an end. (I'm kidding. I just wanted to fill up the space before the next picture, because huge blank spaces make me feel weird.)

Step Eight: Other Stuff Like Salt and Pepper

Tardis shakers!
Kathryn (my little sister) gave me these shakers for Christmas, and I felt the need to include a picture of them here.

Anyway, put salt and pepper on your sandwich, to your preference. But not too much salt... Because bacon.

Step Nine: Pile it On 

Pile on the cheese.
Pile on the bacon.
Don't be shy.
Use aaaaall of the bacon!
Mmmmmmm. Bacon.

Step Ten: Egg Time 

Four for Francois, two for me!
I broke a yolk a little bit while sectioning them up... :(

But I didn't overcook any of them. They were all perfectly gooey.

These get piled onto the sandwiches as well, in the next exciting step...

Step Eleven: Pile On the Rest 

As mentioned in step ten, pile the eggs onto the sandwiches.

Then pile on more cheese... And maybe some more.

And then close up the sarmies by adding the other slice to the tower.

Step Twelve: More Butter! 

Hey, look, here's a picture of that heat in the form of a flame.
Because butter makes everything better.

Carefully place your sandwich tower into the buttery pan, and then turn the heat way up for toasty goodness.

Add butter to the other side before flipping them.

Step Thirteen: Make Francois a Happy Man 

This is easy to do. Just don't burn the sandwiches. And be me serving them to him.
And don't take random pictures of him while he cuts his sandwiches in half.

He's happy, really! The knife in my face is a friendly gesture of love and affection. No, really. In all seriousness though, he's super pleased about his supper. :P

Step Fourteen: Make Some for Me 

Oh my goodness. LOOK AT IT. I get rye bread 'cause I'm special.
In this final step, I made the sandwiches that I would be eating. When you do this step, you'll need to call me afterwards, so that I can come and fetch the yummy goodness that you make for me. It's only fair, since I gave you all this useful information about how to make these tasty toasties.

Well, there you have it. A very long, wonderfully descriptive, instructional post.
Do I get to go viral now? That's how it works, right? Right?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Being Bugged by Bothersome Balderdash

It's funny how things that don't even matter can really bug me. I start my current post like this, because I've been trying to edit my previous (very girly) post about the flowers in my garden.

Irritating thing #1:

Every time that I edit the post, none of the pictures can remember where they're supposed to be. Most of the photos aligned to the right have jumped to the middle, and therefore skipped down to the next line. So, every time that I want to edit something about the post, I have to realign about a third of the pictures in the post. It's so tedious.

Irritating thing #2:

The text won't line up with a bunch of the pictures. It just won't. It automatically sits below the line that I want it to sit at, and it can't be brought up higher, because in the post editor, it's all perfectly in line. It's so irritating, and it doesn't matter at all in the grand scheme of things, and it bugs the hell out of me.

To wrap this up:

I keep telling myself that I will give up trying to fix it... But I keep on coming back to it over and over again. I gave up on it last night, but today Ben pointed out a spelling error in the post...

So I opened up the editor, realigned all of the pictures, corrected the typo, and updated the post. And checked the online version to make sure that everything looked right. (Oh no! That text looks horrible the way it's NOT lined up with that picture!) And tried about three times to fix the placement of the text again... Realigning those pictures each time. Sigh...

So, I'm making myself not look at it anymore. I'm sorry it's not perfect. But neither am I, okay? :P


Today, Francois and I went on a VERY short cycle. We haven't gone in quite a while, first because of weather, then because of work, then because of... I can't remember the other excuses. Anyway. Francois went cycling yesterday and the day before, but this was my first ride in quite a while.

It was exhausting. We didn't go far. But tomorrow we plan to do that Saasveld trail that I mentioned wanting to try ages ago... So hopefully the weather holds! Otherwise I may have a valid excuse to be lazy tomorrow.

And another topic change.

After the cycle, while recovering on the couch in our nice, cool house (which will be horribly cold in winter, I just know it), Mommy asked if I was available for some face time. So, I hopped through the shower and headed over to the Hoekwil Café for a Hangout with the family. We chatted about blogging, and the ability to be honest with one's writing (which Ben is much better at than we are, or so it seems), and pulled very strange faces at each other. It was great! I like my strange, wonderful family.

Moving onto a bit of yummy goodness:

Once I used up all of my free data for the day at the Café, and cut into some of our monthly data as well, Francois and I headed on home. While he ventured into the forest to chop some trees down (he does that sometimes, it's his inner lumberjack shining through), I got to work preparing a yummy treat.

It wasn't much work. I basically made a variation of the wheat-free chocolate mug cake that I blogged about a few days ago. (There was some peanut butter and other random stuff in it this time. Yum!)

But that isn't where things ended.

Francois' mom, Janine, was here for a bit of a holiday with her Fiancé and his daughter. Before they headed back up to Pretoria, they popped by with a bunch of food that they didn't finish while they were here. We certainly didn't complain. (That means thank you very much!) Nestled in one of the bags of food was some yummy creamy pudding stuff.

So naturally, that went on top of the mug cakes.

The resulting puddings were creamy, chocolatey deliciousness!

I've only just finished mine now. It was remarkably filling, especially thanks to the added richness of the topping.

On that scrummy-licious note:

I've just made another one of these for Francois, and am now leaving my tablet for the computer, to watch some more of the silly series that I was watching the other night. It's called Shameless, and it's fairly funny. (It's a show about a huge family, but is not recommended for family viewing - so don't watch it with your eight year old.)

So, goodnight folks!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Flowery Picture Post

Today I've decided to focus on something cheerful and pretty, to break the habit I'm getting into of thinking about depressing things. So here's a post about my garden! It includes lots of flowers and other random garden-associated things.

(I'm listening to Goldfish while writing this. Happy music!)

So, to begin with: Flowers!

I used to love popping these buds when I was a kid. These pretty things are outside the front of our house, surrounded by other huge plants, so are often overlooked.

I can't remember what these are called, but they're darn cute. They're on our balcony in a pot with other things that I don't know the names of, either.

I nearly didn't see this tiny purple flower, only spotting it because I was looking for a huge flower that I remembered seeing a few months ago. It's on the ground, surrounded by HUGE blades of grass (not so huge, actually). What a teeny tiny flower!

Little orange shower-flowers! I call them this, because they're all around our outdoor shower. They're all you see when looking at our shower-view.

Speaking of our shower-view, this cactus can be seen from our shower, as well. According to Sean (my step dad), this cactus is used as a really potent hallucinogenic drug. I also can't remember what this is called... But I find it hilarious that it's all over our garden. :P

These two flowers are next to a potted plant that sometimes displays some very pretty snowdrop-like flowers.

I don't know what these are. They're... Yellow. Round bunches. Of things. But they're also pretty and cheerful and stuff!

I noticed these flowers on the right a while ago. They're dying now, but have lasted for a very long time, and are still beautiful, even as they stop blooming and start withering away.

These make me think of lavender... But they're not lavender. And there's loads of the pretty, wild, pretty wild stuff.

Oh look! A butterfly! That's kinda hard to see. But I saw one, and I took a picture of it. So fascinating, I know.

The vines climbing up this structure are grape vines!! We've already had grapes from this vine, but all of this climbing is a recent accomplishment for the plant. Its mommy must be so proud.

And on the right, a pretty bird-bath, or fountain, or something... How sweet.

Here I am, relaxing on the hammock that Francois' mom bought for us (for her, actually, when she last visited us), enjoying the view into the forest.

And here are some pretty ferns and gooseberry bushes that are growing outside our kitchen window. They're quite overgrown, it's a shame that the gooseberry plants aren't as huge as the ferns. :P

Okay, I am late for work. Damn it. Bye now!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Glancing Over My Shoulder

Guppy is still missing. Francois and I are starting to think that we may be cat-less... And it's getting both of us down in a big way. We're still hopeful that she'll waltz back into the house at any moment, but it's already been three days since she's disappeared, and things are looking dismal.

Every time that I walk up or down the stairs, I find myself peering outside trying to spot her. While washing my hands in the bathroom, I mistake various logs and leaves for her body and paws. Driving home today, I saw something dark in the middle of the road, and slowed down as I drove by, but (thankfully) it was just a pile of fabric. Francois takes his shoes off and I spin my head around as they squeak on the wooden floor. Trying to fall asleep, the combination of fridge noises from downstairs, with the natural rumblings of Francois' stomach, trick my brain into hearing her purring.

Every noise that I hear, and every rustling bush that I see, makes me think that Guppy is about to tumble into sight. I keep expecting to see her prancing towards me from behind the nearest shrub.

I'm not really worried anymore. Either she's been lured into living with a family that will love her better than us, or something very sad has happened. Either way, there's nothing left to worry about... There's just missing her, and feeling depressed that our kitty cat has gone.

I don't want to say goodbye to Guppy. But I think that that's exactly what this post has become.

Okay. I'm going to go cuddle with Francois now, watch some stupid series and drink hot chocolate with coffee liqueur. It may not be the big distraction I'd like it to be, but it'll help to fend off the cold, at least.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Hormones and Worrying

Hormones are very inconvenient. Yesterday I was very irritable, and I couldn't figure out why. Everything Francois did got slightly on my nerves, even though he wasn't actually doing anything wrong. Eventually, I realised that I'm about half a week away from that time.

Ohhh... It all made sense! Figuring out the cause of my mood didn't improve it, but I did try to be a little nicer to Francois. I'm not sure if I succeeded, and I'm sorry if I didn't. I also took the opportunity (using hormones as an excuse) to finish off most of a bar of coconut and cashew chocolate... And then proceeded to whip up chocolate mug cakes for the two of us, as well.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today, I'm less irritable, but definitely still affected by those nonsensey hormones. My mood easily slips into a marginally depressed one (better than an incredibly irritable one!), which is rather unusual in comparison to my general content and happy state of being. On top of that, little things that usually wouldn't cause me too much concern are making me worry instead.

Our little guppy cat.
Our kitty cat, Guppy, has been out exploring all day. She does this once in a while, it isn't uncommon at all. Usually, I feel nothing about not seeing her for a whole day. I know that she's a cat, and she's out doing cat things... But today, I find myself constantly glancing out into the garden, trying to spot her little black face somewhere in the bushes, and I keep wanting to go upstairs to peek into the boxes that she likes to sleep in, to see if she's cosied up in one of them.

She could be anywhere out there...

I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to have your kids move away from home... Not knowing whether they're alright or not. It must take a lot of time to teach yourself how to stop worrying about them... Or at least, to worry a little less.

I feel for you, Mom and Dad!

Sigh. Guppy must come home soon... And I must do other things while I wait for her.
Stupid hormones.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

My Gluten-Free Chocolate Mug Cakes

My body hates wheat, and wheat hates my body. They have a bit of a war going on, they do. Quite a while ago, I realised that the reason for my constant discomfort and bloating was that particularly common grain. So for the most part, I've avoided the soft powdery embrace of any goodie or savoury treat that contains flour.

Since my denouncing of the substance, I've been tempted to eat wheaty things a few times, but each time have regretted it thoroughly. As a result, I've started experimenting with flour-free baking alternatives. (Gluten free flours are expensive!!)

Here's the recipe that I use to create two flour-free chocolate and banana mug cakes:

I was late with the camera. Sorry!
  • Bananas - 2
  • Egg - 1
  • Cocoa - 2 heaped teaspoons
  • Sugar - 4 teaspoons
  • Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Baking Powder - 1/2 teaspoon

  1. If you have a blender, break the bananas up a bit and pop them into the jug. If not, pop them into a small mixing bowl, and proceed to mash them up as well as you can with a fork. I say 'as well as you can,' but actually, don't worry about making it too smooth. A few lumpy banana bits in the cake are not bad at all.
  2. Add all of the dry ingredients, and then the egg. (If you add the dry ingredients after the egg, they cause quite a bit of powder to puff up into your face when you start mixing things up.)
  3. Mix things up. If you're using a blender, this should take no time at all. You want the texture to be smooth, and the dry ingredients thoroughly and evenly combined with the wet. Obviously. That's what mixing is for. If you're mixing by hand, just use that fork again to mash things in nicely with the banana. 
  4. Pour the batter into two mugs. There's no need to line the mugs with butter or anything, because banana isn't as sticky as flour. The mugs are usually pretty easy to wash if you rinse them straight after eating the cake, or if you leave it to soak for a short while. 
  5. Microwave each cake separately for about one minute and twenty seconds. You can experiment with the perfect time for your microwave, just remember that less time will make a more gooey, moist cake, and more time will just allow the cake to dry out a bit more. You don't need to worry too much about overcooking it, because the banana stays very moist regardless. 
  6. Eat the resulting deliciousness as soon as it's ready. Hot gooey mug cakes are the best puddings, in my opinion. 

Well, enjoy the yummy gluten- and flour-free pudding! Say thank you for the recipe and share it with other people, if you like. ;) Bye!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Waitressing is Boring

There's nothing quite like waitressing to remind me of how much I dislike waitressing. This is actually something that is very easy for me to forget.

Me at work! Very happy, because
I was serving my Grammy. :)
Short term, I enjoy being a waitress. I like people, I like making people happy. I learn new things about interacting with people every day, and I often do my job so well that I can change the course of somebody's day, simply by making their dining experience entertaining. This is great! But like I said... I enjoy it in the short term. Doing it for almost a year gets incredibly boring. 

Unfortunately (and fortunately), waitressing at Pomodoro, I make a fair amount of money. Working four shifts a week, I earn enough to pay the rent, my car insurance and my retirement fund at the end of every month. I can afford a few big shopping trips for groceries, petrol to pump into my car, and enough gas and electricity to meet all of our needs. There's even extra money every month for coffee at the Hoekwil Cafe, breakfast at Skotteljons a few times, and take-away pizza once or twice a month. Living expenses are not something that I need to worry about, because I know that I'll earn more than enough. 

Why is this unfortunate? Because all of this earning money results in stagnation. Every office job that gets advertised pays less and expects more. I don't want to work every day of the week! I like only working four days, and never having to take my work home with me. So, instead of making a plan to earn money by doing something more rewarding, instead of leaving my soul-crushingly boring job, I just keep on doing the same thing, week after week.

I'm writing this now, because I've finally made a decision to do something about it, and to make a change. That change involves writing every day to keep in practice - something that this blog helps with very much. It involves working on my children's poems faithfully, so that I can publish them soon and start selling my creative work. And it involves finding writing work, which may not be as fulfilling as bringing my own ideas to life, but will still feel much better than waitressing. 

So to tie up this post, I'll end with my goal for the end of this year: to be working two shifts a week, and earning the rest of my money through book sales and freelance writing.