Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Goodbye Blogger

A few days ago I mentioned that there were some changes coming up and I'm really very excited to be able to share with you that one of these changes is ready.

You will have noticed that I haven't been posting quite as much on Practical Cookie recently. It's taken a while but finally I can share the reason with you! I'm very excited to announce that the reason for this was because I've been working on a new web site! Many of you will know that I love to take online courses and after taking an online course on Web Development, I decided to put what I had learnt into practice and actually build a web site. 

While deciding on a website name, I thought of a name that I absolutely fell in love with as it pretty much sums me up. This means that the new blog and website will have a new name. However, the essence of my stories and blog posts won't change - I'll still share a bit about my general life, share my pictures and share what it's like navigating the world as a female engineer.

It's been a fantastic time blogging and learning about the blogging world with Practical Cookie. After 2 years and 9 months of blogging here, it's been a wonderful journey and I hope you've enjoyed reading my posts as much as I enjoyed putting them together! I will be leaving all of my posts as they are here,for now, so you'll still be able to see the old posts. For the new posts, however, you'll need to look somewhere different.

This is most likely my last post on Practical Cookie, but I really hope that you'll follow me across to my new website Breaking the Mould! It's been a long time in the pipeline, but now it's time to take the plunge, spread my wings and try something different, so enjoy!

For updates, you can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Change is in the Air

Hello strangers! Blogging has certainly taken a back seat this year, but that's not to say that life hasn't been interesting. In fact, these first few months of 2016 have been incredibly busy and exciting. As I mentioned in my last post, change is very definitely in the air and I'm really looking forward to sharing these changes with you - they're almost ready so watch this space! You'll soon understand where all my blogging time has been going recently!

In the mean time, it seems like the only time I get to blog these days is when I'm in another country! I've just finished off a work trip in Singapore and I must say, it's great to be home! I don't think I've had a chilled weekend at home since we got back from holidays in January - it seems like every weekend we've had exciting, fun things to do (work travel, weddings, the Grape Escape, road trips and showing foreigners around Cape Town). It's all been a lot of fun but after almost 3 months of non-stop busyness, the introvert in me is crying out for a few days where I don't have to see anyone (bar those closest to me), make polite conversation or plan anything. Once I've done that I'm sure I'll start to feel slightly more normal again!

With all this travelling I've been doing, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things about travelling:
  • Sunrise or sunset from the air.
  • The "stars" in the Emirates overnight flights.
  • Being exposed to new people and new cultures.
  • And getting exposed to new ways of looking at the world and seeing how people from other countries solve problems differently.
  • Getting to see (and photograph) fun new things.
Here is a sneak peak of some of the pictures from my Singapore trip - keep an eye out for the full range of them coming soon.

Sunset from the airplane
Sunset from the air.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel at night
Singapore trip - Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Bridge lit up at night with rainbow lights
Singapore trip - Bright bridges at night.

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Friday, 4 March 2016

Happy (Belated) Leap Day!

I started writing this post on Feb 29th but as you can see, I didn't get around to finishing it. However, I thought I'd finish it off and share it anyway, as it's been a while since my last post!

February 29th - not a date that you bump into in the course of a regular year. However, this year is special, so happy (belated) Leap Day everyone - and happy birthday to all you February 29th babies!

This year is gearing up to be a fun year with lots of celebrations, planning and new beginnings and as such, I think it's extra appropriate that 2016 is a Leap Year. It's the type of year that comes around once in a while. The type of year where you look at the special times the lie in wait for you - time with family and time with friends, planning and celebrating and enjoying life together and you wish you could set your life on pause, just for a few moments, to savour everything that has happened and look forward to things that have yet to pass.

Earlier in February we went to the wedding of our friend's Chez and Heiko. It was such a privilege to be there with them and celebrate with them as they start out life together as newly-weds. It was such a special, joy filled weekend and made even more amazing by the fact that even though this particular bunch of friends is scattered around South Africa, we were all able to be there to celebrate together. We spent the weekend at a place called Platbos, these wonderfully cosy cabins on the edge of a dam. A weekend surrounded by friends who all just click and celebrating the wedding of two of our group was enough to make my heart feel all warm and fuzzy! Thanks guys, for a wonderful time - can't wait for the next one!

Platbos Log Cabins
Our log cabins at Platbos

Platbos Log Cabins
Our log cabins at Platbos

Frosty and I before the wedding.

Zel, me and Izzy before Chez and Heiko's Wedding
Special friends!
Night time photography in the mountains
Night time photos at Platbos 
Night time photography in the mountains at Platbos Log Cabins
Another night time shot
Night time photography and painting with light
Playing with light and night time photography - I set things up and pressed the button while Frosty shone the
torch like a pro to give us some of these shots!

Enjoying the water at Bainskloof Pass.

More special friends!
And more special friends!
I've got a few exciting things happening over the course of the next few weeks and months. Some of the exciting things are obvious, such as wedding planning! Other things are currently a bit more secret and I'm really looking forward to sharing these with you, however right now they're still a work in progress. I'm hoping that the first thing is going to be ready in a few weeks and once it's ready, you'll be among the first to know, so watch this space! It will definitely explain why I've been a bit quieter than usual on my blog, but that's all I'm saying for now!

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Saturday, 13 February 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

I know that this post is a bit early, but since I'm in the airport with not a lot to do (apart from some bug-fixing, writing some postcards and shopping to while away my 7 hour layover), I thought I may as well also write a post and wish all of my readers a happy Valentine's Day! My Valentine's day is going to start off in Dubai Airport, which isn't so bad. So far, I've had a Valentine's Cupaccino, and it isn't even Valentine's Day yet - although it's getting closer and closer!

I have to say, the thing I'm looking forward to most this Valentine's Day is getting back to Cape Town and knowing that I'm home for a while and, most importantly, getting to give my fiancĂ© (I'm still getting used to calling Frosty that!) a big Valentine's Day hug and celebrate 7 years of being together! I don't know what the rest of the day will hold once I'm back in Cape Town, but to be honest, as long as I'm with Frosty I'll be happy!

And so - happy Valentine's Day to all of you and I hope that you have a wonderful day celebrating with loved ones!

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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

My Phone Is Gone...

Sho, it seems like I've spent my life in airports recently - in the last month I've spent 3 weekends in transit at airports all over and next weekend will be the 4th weekend in a row! It will also hopefully be the last weekend for a while where I spend the majority of my time travelling (yay!).  With all this travel, it's been a few busy weeks. So, last Friday when Frosty and I got home, we decided that we'd go to a movie at the Waterfront.

To cut a very long story short, somewhere between arriving at the Waterfront, watching a terrible movie (The Hateful Eight, for those who want to avoid watching a terrible movie), getting some delicious cinnabons and paying for parking at the Waterfront, I very strongly suspect that my phone got pick pocketed from right out my handbag! 

On any day, I would have been upset. Since this happened the day before I had to fly out to Italy, I was incredibly frustrated and upset. I have had a cell phone since the age of 12 and this is the FIRST TIME EVER that I have had my phone disappear on me. I don't remember taking my phone out of my handbag between arriving at the waterfront and getting back to the car after paying for parking. My suspicion that I was pick-pocketed was made stronger when we tried calling my cell and it was off. It was made even more stronger when we found a very helpful waterfront security guard who asked if we had called the phone, and when we said we had, but it was off, he mentioned that that was bad news.

And so - at 11:30 the night before I had to fly out to Italy, I was not a particularly happy chappy. Luckily, I was able to get a pay as you go sim from Vodacom at the airport and I am now using a spare phone of Frosty's which will do the job until I get back home next week and can sort out a sim swap back onto my current number. And until I can get back, the most I can do is make sure I enjoy Italy :)

Snow covered landscape as viewed from a plane
The view from the plane as I was flying in to the Czech Republic almost 2 weeks ago.

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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Happy 2016!

Hello everyone and happy 2016 to you! I had such high hopes that I would maybe get time to blog a bit during the festive season, but as you can tell from my silence, that didn't happen. Instead, I had a fantastic holiday, celebrating Christmas with family and visiting Frosty's farm and hiking in the berg over New Year and spending some time at Hole in the Wall in the Transkei.

Mpame, Transkei
At Mpame in the Transkei.
While all of these things were fantastic, there was something even more exciting that happened the Saturday before our holiday came to an end. Most of you will have heard some version of the story, but here it is for those of you that haven’t.

I started the day off with a trip to Durban with my mum to go and celebrate the baby shower of one of my best friends from school. Since we live so far away from each other, it is always an extra special treat to see her and even more of a treat to see her as a mum-to-be*! While we were catching up, Jen asked me when I thought Frosty and I might be tying the knot and I replied that it was likely to be in the next year or two probably and we weren’t in a rush. With all the chatting and catching up with everyone at the baby shower, the time seemed to fly by and all too soon we started off on our way back home. I was so sad to have to say goodbye, especially since we were leaving before the end of the party, but mum was keen to get going back home and since she had mentioned that she wasn’t feeling so good earlier I didn’t put up too much of a fight.

The entire way home, mum kept on commenting on how she hopes we get back before the bad weather set in, so that I could go birding with Frosty that afternoon. She usually doesn't mind what the weather is like, but that day she was particularly concerned that we get back before the rain. I thought it was a little strange and thought that something must be up.

Now, to put you in the picture, while we had been at Hole in the Wall, the one morning Frosty and I went for an early morning swim with my folks. My dad got out of the water quite quickly after getting in and soon after that I saw Frosty heading out after him. “Ahhh, he’s gone to keep my dad company and be friendly, what a good guy”, I thought. Eventually mum and I returned to the beach and dad then asked me to take a walk back up to the cottage with him. I waited the whole walk for dad to say something profound and deep, as he’d sounded like he wanted to chat with me all by myself. By the time we had reached the cottage, dad still hadn't said anything. I started getting a bit suspicious at this point, as I guessed that if dad hadn't wanted to talk to me about anything, then that must mean that Frosty had wanted to talk to my mum (and dad) about something. I started having a few suspicions about what that something was, but decided to not get too hopeful.

Anyway, mum and I arrived back to Hilton safely and I organised for Frosty to come collect me so that we could go birding. He’d asked me the day before if I’d like to go birding at Hilton College, as there were lots of birds there and I might be able to tick off some new birds on my bird list. I started getting a bit more suspicious at this point, but again decided not to get my hopes up in case it really did turn out to be just a trip to go and see some new birds...

So, off we went to Hilton and Frosty chatted nicely the whole drive there. We had never gone birding at Hilton together before and so he pointed out all the places where he had crashed and where he had gone exploring and where Willie had beat him in a race uphill even though he (Willie) was using only one leg and Frosty was allowed to use both! We (Frosty) decided to go to Beacons lookout point as it was a place that Frosty used to visit often while he was at school and he went birding there quite often. Along with all the stories he told me during the drive, he also mentioned that his grandfather’s ashes had been scattered at Beacons. The entire drive there I was listening, and the important stories all stood out to me (I had heard a few before luckily), but in the back of my mind I was wondering if this was the time that Frosty was going to ask me something important. I decided to just take the afternoon as it came and made up my mind to not be too disappointed if all we ended up doing was going birding. 

View from Beacons Lookout Point, Hilton College
View from Beacons Lookout Point
We got to Beacons and were treated to a view of overcast skies, cloudy and moody above Albert Falls Dam. It really was a beautiful sight and after admiring the view, we decided to try and get to the actual beacon - a few minutes and a sighting of a rather mean looking fence later, we decided to rather take a walk along one of the forest paths. We tried really hard to find some birds, but the incoming bad weather had ensured that all the birds were hiding...All this time I was enjoying the birding but also watching Frosty carefully to see if he was acting strangely. He seemed to be sighing every now and then but otherwise he was his usual self, so I still didn't want to get my hopes up that something was up.

After finding a few brave birds who had ventured out into the forest, we turned back and again spent some time standing on top of rocks, looking for birds at the Beacons viewpoint. It was while we were standing, just admiring the view, that Frosty went down on one knee and asked me to marry him and just like that, we were engaged!

As we sat chatting, overlooking the valley and just enjoying being together, I asked Frosty how long he'd been planning this whole thing and who was in on the plan. It turns out that while I was travelling in Rio he used the time to start looking into rings and talking to jewellers and for those few months, the only people other than him that knew his plan were his folks. It turns out my suspicions that Frosty has been asking my folks something at Hole in the Wall also turned out to be correct (my folks and his folks did such a good job at hiding their excitement over that time that I started to second guess myself at that point). 

Anyway, a glass or two of champagne and some snacks later, we made our way back to Hilton where as many of our family as possible had gathered to celebrate our engagement with us, which was just the best end to the day! Frosty and I were both so excited and thankful to have our family join us in celebrating our first evening as an engaged couple and it means so much that we were able to celebrate with them! Thank you family who were able to be there and those who weren't there were missed!

We're engaged!
The following day we had some more celebrations with family and friends who lived close by and one of the best treats of the day was getting to see my special friend Jen for the second day in a row! Since most of these friends live far away from us, it was again, an extra special time and one that I won't soon forget!

Special families! (Thanks Chezie for putting on your photographer hat!)
The jong-span (thanks mum for getting these pics!).
It's now been 3 weeks since we got engaged and in that time a lot has happened - we got to celebrate with my Cape Town family, work started off with a bang and I've just spent a week in the Czech Republic doing a workshop for a new project, which is really exciting! I have to say that I'm really looking forward to planning a little something to celebrate with our Cape Town contingent, who we haven't had much of a chance to see yet.

It really was the most fantastic way to end off the holiday and so, here's to a new year, a new adventure and a new fiancĂ© - I think 2016 is going to be a good year!

*She and her husband recently welcomed a baby girl into the world, yippee!

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Monday, 21 December 2015

'Tis the Season

It's less than a week until Christmas - can you believe it? At the beginning of last week, my manager mentioned to me that support was all under control and I didn't need to come in to work on Monday and Tuesday next week if I didn't want to and would I like to take those two days off as well. After thinking about it for a while, checking what is coming up and what I need to prepare for next year, I decided that since I had some extra days of leave saved up, I thought I might as well take them and I'll just work extra hard to get as much as possible done before I head off on Friday (best Christmas present ever - 2 days of extra holiday!).

I always love this time of the year, it's probably my favourite holiday and so, I thought I'd share some of my favourite things about Christmas:

  • Decorating the Christmas tree (with Christmas Carols as background music).
  • Finishing off Christmas shopping and then spending an afternoon or two wrapping presents (while listening to Chrismas Carols).
  • Time spent catching up with family and friends - since we live so far away from home, any family time is extra-precious.
  • Swimming costumes and long summers days spent at the pool or beach.
  • Ice creams, watermelon, G&Ts.
  • Christmas carols - the old stuff, the new stuff and Carols by Candlelight.
  • Delicious food (my folks make the best Christmas ham you'll ever eat!)
  • Having a bit of time to just chill and think and reflect.
What are some of your favourite things about Christmas?

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