Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

September 28, 2013

Last Year

This past week, my mom came for a visit.

She hasn't flown in about 15 years -- not since she crossed an ocean to visit me in England while I lived in a house with no heat. 

Thankfully, the temperatures here were warm enough for shorts most of the week -- and when they do finally drop (hopefully not soon) my apartment is well-equipped with heat. 

As I mentioned in my last post though, there has been a morning and evening chill in the air. It was the kind of chill that warranted wearing slippers while we sat on the porch drinking our beverage of choice, depending on the time of day. 

I loved that my mom managed to only take hand luggage on the plane with her and she still found room to bring her slippers. Apparently she's picked up a thing or two from me while watching me pack for trips throughout the years. (Always bring your own slippers. Always.) 

I made her those maroon slippers 'last year' right before Christmas. During my years working in Ukraine, my colleagues and I had a running joke about 'last year'. Every time an event didn't go as planned, or we experienced unexpected glitches, we'd say something like 'Well, LAST year we did this instead...' or 'LAST year so and so did it that way...'  

We were so goofy with our comparisons, but over the years, a lot DID change in the country. One thing was pretty consistent though -- we still wore slippers whenever we visited a Ukrainian home. 

I found myself thinking a lot about last year while my mom was here, because really, so much HAS changed. Last year the Sailor and I knew we'd be moving, but we didn't know where. Last year I became serious about writing a book. Last year, my brother was still alive. 

Last year seems like a lifetime ago and yet last year feels like yesterday. 

I felt a little funny dropping my mom off at the airport. So often, it has been my mom driving me to and from an airport and waving me off as I stumble through security. This time, I watched as she expertly made her way through security, as if she's flown more than me. 

Last year changed a lot. 

I am super proud of my mom for getting on a plane to come and see me only three months after we've moved. I'm also proud of her for keeping up with my whirlwind tourist tendencies this week (We did a lot. I mean A LOT. We may need another holiday to recover from our 'vacation'.) And I'm incredibly proud of how she has pushed through what was undeniably one of the hardest years of her life. Mother's Day looked a lot different for her this past year. 

One thing remains the same, though. She's the most amazing mom I know. Slippers and all.  

September 21, 2013

#7vignettes Part I

I've mentioned before how much fun I have on Instagram. Ever since I joined the online photo community, it's challenged me to take creative pictures using only my phone. I love seeing what other people around the world creatively post! 

I don't really participate in a ton of hashtag projects (yet!) but I do love playing along with #7vignettes. There are some amazing interior designers taking part mainly in Australia, but people submit their photos from around the world. 

I'm not an interior designer, nor do I live in Australia, but I truly enjoying seeing how other people interpret a one word theme in photos. I tried to not only create and take photos that matched the words, but I also created my own 'travel' theme throughout each of the photos in the seven day series.

I'm a little late in showing you all my first round of pics from August, but here they are:

Of course every photo has a story that's also part of the vignette. You can read Day 1's tea/coffee one here, if you missed it. 

The rest of the vignettes are as follows: 

BEDSIDE:  Bride's-eye-view from the cake topper that never made it to my wedding in South Africa, but arrived months later in the post in America. (The bride and groom still haven't clued me in on where they were all that time...) Also at my bedside: a frame holding an anniversary photo of the Sailor and me, at least one book, and always, without a fail, a glass of water at bedtime. 

WINDOW: Travel offers a window of opportunity to experience other cultures. I often feel as though I'm reflecting on past trips abroad at the same time that I'm planning new adventures. 

ELEGANT: For me, elegance is found somewhere between a train trip on the Orient Express from Budapest, coffee in the dining car, watching the snowfall while writing in my journal, and an African safari, sipping sundowners with the zebras. It's hard to choose... 

MONOCHROME: Vintage lovelies that have both traveled through and stood the test of time. Green is glorious. 

EMOTIONAL: The gamut of emotions I've experienced since the age of 10 have all been recorded in my journals... When words fail sometimes the emotions are simply a tear stain, a ticket stub, a sketch or a photo -- even the crumbling petals of a rose. Even in this age of mobile gadgetry, I still travel with my journal -- 61 journals now line my bookshelf. I'm working my way through number 62. 

HANDMADE: I have my mother to thank for instilling in me a sense of creativity and wonder in everyday objects. She taught me to sew and crochet and she showed me the amazing things you can do with paper and scissors (her pinking shears made the photo cut). Years later, my mother-in-law taught me to knit. She told me to keep the practice square as a memento of that first lesson. (It's in the upper right corner.) I knit the blue sweater soon after. The color reminded me of the Sailor's and my handmade wedding invitations and the oceans that separate two of the most amazing women I know. Handmade with love. 

August 6, 2013

Global Love

Awhile back, a friend asked: 'If you could get a free round-the-world ticket, what five cities would you stop in?' 

I love games like that. 

The past few days, I've been staring at maps and all manner of travel paraphernalia, not only because I'm missing my friends in Scotland. On Instagram, I've been participating in #7vignettes. (In a nutshell, Instagrammers the world over create stunning vignettes according to themes over a week-long period.) Of course, no matter what the theme, most of my photos have some sort of nod to travel in them. I'll be sharing the photos a little later on the blog.

I have always loved to travel -- even the idea of it makes me giddy. Long before I ever took my first international flight, my father traveled internationally for work. He brought home in-fight magazines in German and Italian... and I tried to decipher them word for word with his European phrasebooks. I never made sense of any of them, but I hoped that someday I'd get to travel too.

It took me 19 years to go on my first transatlantic flight, and while it was also to an English speaking country, I had my share of miscommunication along the way. A year later, I made my way to foreign countries where the languages sounded like Klingon to my ears. Despite my lack of understanding, I became hooked on travel. I've never stopped for very long since.  

Bearing in mind that I could get off the plane at these cities and travel further, my five cities were Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Vladivostok, Lisbon, and Reykjavik. (This list is by no means exhaustive...)

So, if you could get a free round-the-world ticket, which five cities would you stop in? Go on, I dare you to play the game! And if you're on Instagram, be sure to check out #7vignettes.

PS: Can we just talk a little bit about that splendid globe pincushion in the photos?! It is one of the ONLY vintage items I've ever purchased on eBay. I actually saw one for sale on Instagram, and when I found one for MUCH less on eBay, I nabbed it.

July 31, 2013

Crochet Bobble Bag

There's a reason I claim to be a 'luggage lover'. I've always had a thing for bags -- ever since I can remember. Luggage of course, is essential for frequent travelers. I think my love of luggage runs deeper though. For years, I didn't own any furniture. I lived in places where of course I used furniture, but it wasn't mine. The only thing I owned were my suitcases, bags, purses, and the contents therein. 

I shopped for luggage and handbags as fervently as an interior designer does for furniture and decor. Like a turtle, I carried my 'home' with me, inside that luggage. Certain trips, countries and events gave me excuses to use different styles of bags.  

While the Sailor and I have accumulated our own furniture over the years, it's no surprise that I still have a soft spot for luggage and handbags. My own mother used to joke that I should someday open a bag shop. One day, I may still surprise her. 

If I did have a bag shop, this crocheted one would definitely make it to the window display for the summer. I gave you a glimpse in the last post; the mailman finally delivered the hardware needed to finish the project.

It's not too late to make yourself one for the rest of the summer! You can find the pattern for sale here, on Mon Petit Violon's blog. (Even if you don't crochet, check out the site -- her blog is beautiful!) 

Since I made my bag so late into the summer, I decided on yellow since I think it'll transition nicely into fall. I used Berroco Weekend worsted weight in Squash. The pattern called for linen or at least cotton yarn. Berroco Weekend is only 25% cotton, but while my Local Yarn Store had some beautiful linen and cotton yarn -- they didn't have a color I favored for a bag, so I purchased the Berroco instead.

I had a fabric remnant of giraffe print that proved to be a perfect fit for the bag, especially when I remembered I had a little gem of a keychain to go with it. 

I found the giraffe key-chain years ago at an airport in South Africa. I'm pretty sure it was after the Sailor and I went on a safari, and I wanted something to remind me of the giraffes. I have a leopard too, but he'll have to wait for his own bag. Both the bag handles and rings are from this Etsy shop.

I'm already dreaming up places for this bag and I to travel to! In the meantime, the crochet bobble bag is reminding me of past South African safaris and being wowed by the giraffes at sunrise. 

July 25, 2013

Peach Chutney

I had never tasted chutney until my 20s, when I ordered curry at an Indian restaurant in the UK. I always associated chutney with Indian food from then on. I had no idea what else you could do with it.

Then I married the Sailor and he introduced me to a whole new world of chutney-related items. Earlier this month, I mentioned that my go-to roast these days included a bottle of Mrs Balls Chutney. I still haven't found Mrs Balls Chutney locally. 

What I did find was my mother-in-law's recipe book. Years ago, in a bid to learn more Afrikaans, and to help the Sailor's mother, I typed out her recipes and bound them together in a book. There are numerous typos (really, I didn't know any Afrikaans when I set out to do this project... and most of the recipes were scraps of paper written out by hand). I still need the Sailor's help to translate a number of the recipes, but the book is a wonderful reference. 

It's peach season where we are and it reminded me of South Africa. My father-in-law cultivates amazing peach trees -- you can read more about those peaches here and see another photo here from our last trip to the Southern Hemisphere. The Sailor reminded me this week that there is a peach chutney recipe in that book.

I've been wanting to try my hand at preserving food for a long time now, plus, I needed an excuse to use the giant stainless steel pot I recently scored at a thrift store.

I started off with a very small manageable batch -- only six jars worth. 

While the chutney simmered, the Sailor breathed in deeply and said it smelled like his family's house. It certainly did. When we left  South Africa earlier this year, my mother-in-law tried desperately to send us home with jars full of chutney. Baggage handlers and breakables don't usually go well together, so we declined the offer, but our taste buds regretted it the moment we got back to America. 

I'm beginning to realize how significant it is to carry on cooking traditions from both sides of my family. In January, I wrote a post on Family Kitchen Mergers -- you can read that here, in case you missed it. When I sent my mother-in-law a photo of the chutney cooking, her response implied she was over the moon. I think most families love to see a little of their history getting passed along.

We may have turned down importing my mother-in-law's stash of chutney, but I think she's just as pleased that we learned to make it ourselves. As per her instructions, we need to wait at least a week to sample the goods. Rest assured, I'll let you know the canning results.

July 16, 2013

Wellington Wishes

Ever since my 19th birthday, I have spent nearly every summer abroad. I was fortunate to attend a college that offered overseas programs -- I've never looked back since. Those programs opened the doors to summers in Scotland, Ukraine and England. After college, various other European outposts opened up, until I eventually ended up in Africa.

No matter where I found myself for the majority of the summer though, I usually made it to Scotland either before or after my travels. There, on the shores of Loch Lomond, friends and I converged for several weeks at a summer camp for teenagers. We worked hard. We laughed a lot. We ate pie. We drank. We sang. And more often than not, I cried when I had to say goodbye. 

Campers and staff alike refer to the place as magical. I don't believe in magic, but one night during my first summer there, several of us sat around a campfire, chatting. At some point, someone ran down the hill, and breathlessly asked us to help herd a few of the sheep back into their fenced-off area. 

We proved a sight. Arms flailing, a half dozen of us ran around a sheep field in the dark, trying to round up a few of the dumbest animals on the planet.

Later, my sophisticated and well-traveled older dorm-mate sat near me by the fire and said something poignant -- I don't remember exactly what -- but in that moment I do remember thinking, 'It's true... this place is magical.'

Year after year I returned to that sheep field. Rain, mud and midgie bites couldn't keep me away. I skipped a summer now and again when I was on board a ship, and I remember missing part of a summer because a boy I liked happened to be traveling through London in the middle of camp. 

But for the most part, I continued to spend at least a few weeks in Scotland, every summer.  

The wellies always changed, but the view never did. 

In 2009, the Sailor and I arrived from Cape Town to America to visit with my family during his study break. He returned to South Africa alone; I spent the next six weeks keeping a close eye on my mother, who had a few health issues at the time.

I had already made up my mind that I wouldn't be able to go to Scotland that summer; I figured I'd be spending the remainder of the summer with the Sailor in a wintry Southern Hemisphere. Instead, I spent the next six weeks hovering over my mother, driving her slightly crazy.  

She couldn't understand why I was so batty myself. She thought I just missed the Sailor, but in truth, we spend half of our life apart. I always miss him, but this time, I was also missing Scotland. I felt displaced.

On the night that my friends arrived in the sheep field, I toasted them from far away with a double shot of single malt, and I found myself feeling a little homesick for Scotland -- or indeed anywhere in Europe for that matter. 

It turns out it was the first summer since 1994 that I spent in America. Even when I missed camp in previous years, I was at least in Europe for the summer.

It wasn't terrible. But it was strange. I found myself looking at my cold-weather wardrobe a little wistfully. While locals lamented the rain that pelted Pennsylvania, I found it comforting. I wanted to wear my wellies, sit by a fire and listen to someone strumming a guitar. I learned to knit and the first real project I made turned out to be a sweater that I envisioned myself wearing on the sheep field. 

I made it back to Scotland in 2010, but the sweater didn't come with me. The sleeves turned out to be a little too short, and increasingly lower baggage allowances meant I left behind anything big and bulky -- except my wellies, of course.  

In 2011, I traded camping on the shores of Loch Lomond with boat camping on Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho with college friends. They had all been to Scotland at some point with me, yet despite their company, I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic about missing the Bonnie Banks again. 

Last year, I made elaborate plans to return to Scotland. Afterwards, my itinerary included Ukraine for a writing project. When my brother took a turn for the worse, I cancelled all travel plans and wrote my regrets to friends I wouldn't be seeing again for a long, long time. Even after my brother recovered from his infection, and once he started to improve again, I was thankful I stayed. It turns out it was the last summer I'd have with him. No regrets, but I was still a little wistful about missing out on a summer in Scotland. 

I knew early on this year that I wouldn't make it to Scotland this summer. We just relocated to a completely new city. It seemed a little crazy to pack for camp in the midst of our moving melee. I told friends that the excitement of moving to a new place has slightly taken the sting out of not being in Scotland this year. The truth is though, I'm still going to miss it. 

So to all of my friends already there in that field, and to the many who have yet to arrive: Enjoy your summer... cherish the friendships you'll make and the memories you will create. Laugh (loudly) for me. I will be toasting you from across the pond, and wishing you well, in your wellies. 

June 22, 2013

Cardboard Carnage and Pyrex Pretties

It is amazing to me that only a week ago the Sailor and I were on the road, heading to a new city.

So much has happened since then!

My last post elicited a few panicked emails and messages from friends we left behind. (Thankfully, I alerted my mother before she read the blog...) I'm happy to report that the same day I wrote my 'homeless' post, we received the keys to our new and wonderful place. There were a few cups of coffee and lunch in between, and mounds of paperwork to sign (seriously... we signed a rental lease, not a mortgage...) But later that night, we settled into our new apartment enough to feel at home.

The Sailor had the truck unpacked within two hours (!) My job? Sorting out boxes galore. 

Cardboard carnage

We still have some unpacking to do, but since it's the weekend, we're taking a break. 

In the meantime, I'm absolutely giddy with the amount of kitchen space I now have. Regular readers will know that I have just moved out of what I considered the smallest kitchen in America. (Have a tiny kitchen? Read my small kitchen hints here and here.)

I seem to have moved into a kitchen that could have swallowed our entire former apartment. Seriously, this kitchen is BIG

The best news of all? Plenty of counter space and shelves to display the Pyrex. (I'm also happy to report that despite moving hassles, all of my pretties made it to the other side, unscathed!)

This is my view just above the sink. Vintage Butterprint and Butterfly Gold Pyrex in their glory -- along with a turquoise chip and dip set thrown in there simply because it matches. 

This morning, I did some solo exploring in our new location, and I found this lovely Anchor Hocking milk glass cake stand. 

All that's missing is the cake. You can be sure I'll be baking quite a few in my new kitchen! 

June 18, 2013

Moving Chaos

Moving is chaos. I'm trying to remember my moving tip from a few days ago: LAUGH. 

The Sailor and I weren't laughing much over the past 48 hours. 

We should have been in our apartment by now, and on our way to the nearest IKEA with an empty moving truck to pick up furniture. However, thanks to a Leasing Agent who lied, we are currently homeless. 

OK, so we are not truly homeless, even though the Sailor's mom seems to think we are actually living on the street. 

Thankfully, only our moving truck had to spend the night on the street. We have super hospitable friends in the area, and we have the means to stay in a hotel if necessary, until we can sort out alternative housing. 

Relocating to a completely new city with our life packed into a 12' moving truck is stressful enough. Add on this housing debacle, and the frustration level skyrockets.

I know things will work out in the end. In the meantime though, I may not have the chance to blog much. And I hope the plants survive.


June 13, 2013

Moving Tip

The Sailor and I are in the throes of packing chaos at the moment. I now have a love hate relationship with cardboard. And tape. Packing paper and bubble wrap are also pretty high on the list. I'm exhausted and we haven't even packed the moving truck yet. (Don't even talk to me about the days of driving ahead...)

For much of my life, I have been what some people call a professional nomad. I generally love the packing process as well as the travel itself. It gets me excited about the destination -- the people I'm going to meet and the new things I'll experience. But this is the first time I've moved with real furniture (and not just a desk and chair), plus I have quite a lot of kitchen stuff. Despite following most of my spring cleaning tips, the boxes are still piling up.

So, understandably, I've been a little more frazzled about this move than others. 

Earlier today, in between trying to figure out what else to pack in the box with the cast iron cookware, I looked into the living room and saw the Sailor, casually watching TV. He was sitting in my favorite IKEA chair, surrounded by boxes, packing paper and bubble wrap. 

Clearly, the TV was not yet packed (deep breath...), but the Sailor was pretty chilled out about it all. 

He reminded me to take a different kind of deep breath and to just S-L-O-W down. This move is meant to be an adventure. This year, I'm also supposed to just chill out. And then he made me laugh.

I'm glad the TV isn't packed yet. I'm thinking that instead of packing one more box tonight, I'm going to finish knitting a dishcloth (anything more complicated is beyond me and/or already packed at this point...) and watch a comedy with the Sailor.

My best moving tip so far? Laugh. Laugh a lot. Moving is stressful. Saying goodbye to friends and family is emotional. Going somewhere new can be exciting and scary at the same time. 

Laughter? It is generally good for the soul, and can make you feel better within seconds. 

What's your favorite moving tip?

May 20, 2013

Five Reasons to Love Warm Weather

1. Crochet. I love to knit, but it seems to take a backseat to crochet as soon as the weather warms up. Knitting elicits images of wooly warm yarn on bamboo needles by the fire. Crochet on the other hand is my staple fiber art during spring and summer, especially with cotton yarn. I'm making something super fun (but can't divulge yet since the recipient may also read this blog.) In the meantime, check out this Bullion Beach Blanket I made -- in case you missed it!

2. Hammocks. There's nothing quite as peaceful as swinging from a hammock on a lazy day. You can even knit in one (despite me just saying I crochet more in warm weather.) You can find out where to buy a very cool hammock here, at the bottom of the post. 

3. Craftiness. The winter isn't the only time to be crafty. Spring and summer bring forth a whole host of fun ideas. I raided my stash to make the simple wreathe below. 

4. Spring cleaning. Warmer weather means people are cleaning out their homes and attics, which means bargains galore in thrift stores and at yard sales. I just found the Golden Pine Pyrex Space Saver (top white dish) for $1. See more photos of this gorgeous holiday promo here

 5. Outdoor activities. Quite possibly my favorite -- longer days and getting to spend time outside. Watching the sunflowers bloom is a bonus.

Eastern Ukraine, circa 1999. It's time to return and get an updated photo in those fields!

What's on your warm weather to-do list?


March 25, 2013

Old Books are Super Sweet

Over the years, I have always poked fun at my mother for her love of old books. Just the other night, she was telling me about a Sinclair Lewis book she recently finished, and I asked if she was reading anything a little more modern these days. 

(She wasn't. This is besides the point, however.)

The next day, the Sailor pointed to a book he'd never noticed on the shelf and asked what it was -- it was an old copy of 'The Real Book about Ships'. We took it down to page through... and while at the shelf I unearthed my 1953 copy of 'Aboard and Abroad' -- an entire volume dedicated to fifties style travel to and from Europe.

Obviously, much of the information is out of date. But there are a few hidden gems, like a reminder of former steamship Cunard's ad campaign: 'Getting there is half the fun.' 

I concur. Getting there (and around) usually is still half the fun. (Sometimes it's most of the fun! If you missed the post a week ago about renting a car in Mexico, you can read that here.)

But I digress... sifting through those books reminded me that I'm turning into my mother a little. I may not be reading an old, dusty edition by Sinclair Lewis yet, but I definitely have my fair share of older books -- especially cookbooks. (You can read more about that here.)

This weekend, I wanted to make a pineapple upside down cake. I could have just looked online, but I decided to use the recipe from an old cookbook, instead. I picked 'The Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedia Cookbook' -- the 1966 new revised delux edition. 

I should have known when I set out that this dessert might flop. At the very least, it was going to put everyone into a sugar-induced coma. For a 9x9 inch pan, the recipe called for 1 cup of brown sugar AND 1 cup of white sugar. I thought it must have been a typo, but I proceeded as directed.

In addition, I really, really wanted to use my new (yet old) round Pyrex 8x8 cake pan I recently thrifted. So of course the batter was going to ooze out over the top since the pan was too full. 

I flipped the cake over once it cooled... and the whole thing started to slide off the plate. No photos... my fingers were too sticky from all of the pineapple juice to handle the camera. I took one bite of the gooey cake and my teeth started to hurt. 

I chalked it up to another kitchen disaster. If you need more proof that this wasn't my first kitchen flop, you can see more here.  

My mother reminded me (after taking her own bite and nearly passing out) that people didn't eat sugary stuff as often back then as they do today. So maybe it wasn't a typo on the cookbook. Maybe it was just a once-a-year-special-occasion cake?

Regardless,  I'm going to think twice about making something sweet out of an old cookbook again.

March 17, 2013

Red Bugs in Mexico

Our recent cruise itinerary included Mexico. For someone who is as well traveled as me... I had never before been to Mexico. (Don't laugh, I made it to countless other countries before I even ventured into Canada.)

The Sailor had previously been to Cozumel before and joked that we wouldn't miss much if we simply stayed on board for the day. Nevertheless, we made the obligatory rounds through the tourist spots, and then on a whim, decided to rent some sort of dune buggy for the day. 

Excited as we were at our spontaneity, the rental place was all out of dune buggies. But the owner offered us a beat-up old red Volkswagen instead. 

We took it. 

From the moment we sat inside and turned the ignition, we were laughing. The car sputtered to life. My seat flew forward in the tracks every time the Sailor braked. I got stuck in the seat belt and had to shimmy out when we stopped. There were no side windows, the rear-view mirror served no real purpose, and when we stopped to put gas in the car, the attendant pulled out a rag that was being used to plug the petrol. A rag.

Then the rag blew away. 

Some German tourists walked past and stopped to take a photo of our Bug (while we sat inside, waving to the attendant that the rag had blown away.)

After driving halfway around the island and having the vinyl sun roof flap on my head, we rolled it up, only to get baked by the mid-day sun. 

At one point I mistakenly turned around, looked at the non-existent back seat, and I noticed the floor was rusting through. 

The Sailor and I suddenly felt like the Flintstones. 

We managed to get the whole way around the island, and returned the car in one piece (or at least in the number of pieces we left with initially!)

Every time I meet a couple who has been married 50 plus years, I make it a point to ask them their secret to success. Without a doubt, every single one of them says to keep a sense of humor going throughout the marriage and life. 

There were numerous reasons I fell for the Sailor; his sense of humor was definitely tops. 

Later that night, my neck hurt. In fact my whole body kind of felt like I had been jolted around on a wooden roller coaster. The biggest pain of all? My stomach hurt from laughing so much. But that made everything else worth it. The Sailor and I still have a good chuckle every time we talk about the Bug.

March 13, 2013

Cruising to Calm

My motto for 2013 is supposed to be to chill out -- no matter what happens. 

Well, if you've been following this blog, you know that 2013 has thrown a few curve balls my way. I'm still trying to stay pretty chilled out, because really, what good is it stressing about stuff that is beyond my control? 

This past week, the Sailor took me on a cruise. It was in the works for some time, and happened to still fit right into our schedule, despite the timing of my brother's death a few weeks ago. 

I sent the Sailor this card years ago...
It made me smile when I found it in the closet back in South Africa.

A fellow former shipmate and friend of mine sent me a message right before I boarded: 'Hope the cruise is good for your soul...

The cruise was indeed good for my soul. There is something calming about being on the water. Warm weather and fabulous food never hurt either. 

While on board, I also celebrated my birthday... 

I took in a few sights of the sea... 

And of course the palm trees and sunsets on land...

The last day of the cruise, the Sailor and I went to a butterfly conservatory -- quite possibly my favorite excursion of the sail.

Was the cruise good for my soul? Absolutely. Am I going to still aim to be chilled out this year? Most definitely. 

PS: In case you haven't noticed... most of these are Instagram pics. I've only recently discovered how addictive the app is. Follow me there: typingsunflowers.

March 6, 2013

The Great Cardigan Remake - Done

In the midst of everything that happened last week after we got home from our trip, I realized that I never updated you all on the status of the great cardi remake. 

I found these fabulous buttons at a hobby shop and I finally sewed the sleeves on, and put all of the finishing touches on the cardigan. 

I must confess that I was relieved to finish it... but I wasn't super thrilled with it at the end. Maybe it was just too hot in South Africa, or I didn't have the right shirt with me to wear with it.

Now that it's unpacked and I'm cold again, I'm looking for more occasions to wear it.

February 23, 2013

Drink Up

Last year, to celebrate the Sailor's success at passing a HUGE navigation exam, we went to Abu Dhabi. We met with friends, laid around the beach and the pool, and I drank far too many of the green slushy type beverage pictured below -- frozen mint lemonade. 


I haven't quite figured out how to make it yet, although I do know that fresh mint and lemonade (clearly) are involved.
This week, the Sailor ordered a frozen ginger lemonade at a coffee shop... and somehow he ended up with a frozen mint lemonade. I'm still not sure how that happened, since I didn't see that combo anywhere on the menu. The Sailor didn't share my passion for the drink, so needless to say, I enjoyed the rest of it.

I was definitely back in Abu Dhabi, if only for the few minutes it took me to slurp the drink. 

This photo was taken right before the Sailor arrived -- on a day out with two of my dearest friends (yes, I am blessed. A trip to Abu Dhabi AND my friends are there?!) I entered the photo in the most recent camera club competition -- it tied for second in the color category.

I only wish a frozen mint lemonade was the prize, rather than a red ribbon.  

February 17, 2013

Peach Smoothies

I'm making progress on the great cardigan remake. (This isn't the first time I've had to remake a sweater -- more on that later -- nor do I think this will be the last!)

This morning, while I was vigorously knitting the waist decreases, my father-in-law emerged from the garden and sat with me under the tree to cut up a giant bowl of peaches. 

Coffee, knitting, a cool breeze in the shade... and the smell of peaches -- what better way to spend a Sunday morning?

I couldn't resist eating a small bowl myself. While Pa peeled and chopped his way through what seemed to be about 55 peaches, I remembered a summer years ago in Ukraine, when I sat under a similar tree with Babka Dina. 

Dina wasn't related to me, but she was known as Grandma to anyone who came near her. 

She was large, and rather slow when moving about. She used a cane, but insisted that she didn't need help whenever someone would offer an arm to her. 

One of my first days in her town in Eastern Ukraine, we sat at a table (where we spent most of the time actually). An unusual number of bees swarmed us. Babka Dina was unfazed. She spent the latter part of the lunch we shared trying to capture bees in a cup, or smashing them with her spoon. Occasionally she dumped scalding hot tea onto them when they landed on the table. (I'm going to guess she never saw the Bee Movie...)

Watching Pa peel peaches reminded me of Babka Dina -- not because she was old, and hobbled about, or because she happened to be a bee killer -- but because one of the only photos I have of her, she is sitting cross-armed, very stoic, next to a bushel of peaches, not unlike the giant bowl Pa had beside him.  

The photo is a shoebox, in a closet, on the other side of the world at the moment, but I can still see her face.  

It's been years since I saw Babka Dina -- I don't know whatever happened to her. I like to think that she's still smashing bees with the same spoon she uses for the honey. And I hope her peach tree is still thriving. 

After we consumed enough peaches for the morning and left the rest in the fridge for a smoothie later, a bee started to hover around the Sailor. He too was unfazed, but unlike Babka Dina, he let the bee live. 

Because I've been eating so many peach smoothies lately, I thought I should share my recipe (which honestly just fluctuates depending on the fruit that I happen to have on hand, but this has been the standard for two weeks now.) 


2 ripe peaches, chopped (preferably just picked) 
1 apple, chopped
1 banana, peeled of course, and chopped
Either a few splashes of milk, or a few spoonfuls of plain or fruit yogurt 
A small handful of almonds *

Throw all together in a blender. 
Pour into a glass and enjoy! 

This smoothie is quite thick, so I like to use a spoon to scrape out the last of it from the glass. Or, you could just add more liquid. 
* Omit the almonds if you married a picky eater like the Sailor.

February 11, 2013

The Sailor's 'Braai' Rules

There's nothing quite like the smell of a BBQ... or as it's known in South Africa, a 'braai'. 

The first time I ever spent the day with the Sailor, we were on a beach in Sierra Leone, West Africa with another South African family. Somehow, they had acquired lamb chops, and a small grill, and we spent the day swimming, getting tanned, digging holes in the sand and acting like kids, and of course we ate. Lots. I still remember licking my fingers clean of those amazing chops. 

I felt sorry for the vegetarian who was with us that day. Seriously, I ached because she didn't taste how yummy those lamb chops were. 

Since then, the Sailor and I have lost count of the number of places we have had a braai. No matter where we are though, the Sailor has a set of rules to abide by when grilling. 

1. Use wood and charcoal. Gas grilling may be quicker, but the Sailor swears by the taste of wood and charcoal. It takes longer... but that's kind of the point of a braai. You get to hang out with your friends and family while the fire cooks. 

2. Make sure the grill is clean -- just scrub it with a wire brush beforehand.

3. Meat tenderizer is acceptable to use before you grill, however do not salt the meat until it’s on the braai. The Sailor says it sometimes makes the meat tough if you salt it too early.

4. Braai at least three types of meat (burgers and hot dogs not allowed... get creative!)

5. Always leave a little piece at the end for the eldest dog -- in this case, Rex.

And before you say it's too cold to braai... even the Sailor has grilled in sub-zero temps, in the snow. Just think of it as an early summertime treat.