Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Recipe for Awesome (Tiny) Chicken House

This last weekend, I went back to KZN for Frosty's birthday on the farm. We had an awesome dinner and get together with some of his family and friends and he got some awesome presents. But I think the present that will keep him busiest was a chicken called Cheesecake, so named by the lovely gift-giver, Shells. According to one of the guys with us, it's a Black Australorp chicken and Frosty is hoping that it turns out to be a girl so he can have eggs for breakfast every morning, maybe he'll even get a few more so he can invite friends over for breakfast!

Anyway, even though this little chick came in the most beautifully decorated gift box, we decided it needed a bit more room to grow and jump around and thus we decided to build an

Awesome (Tiny) Chicken House


1 x baby chicken (or a few more if you like)

Baby chick with red berries

1 x plastic box (with a lid)

1 x brick with hole in the middle for water

1 x plank of wood, similar in size to your brick

1 x small flower pot

Flower pot

1 x piece of large paper (newspaper works)

a few handfuls of paper cuttings, sawdust, wood shavings or grass

2 x small glass bowls

1 x pen

some water and baby chicked food (we used future life)


1 x jig saw

1 x hole saw (attaches to your drill)

1 x sander (with sandpaper, you could just use sandpaper as well, it just takes longer)

1 x boyfriend who is willing to show you how to use power tools :)


  1. Wash your box, box lid, flower pot, little glass bowls and brick (just a rinse to clean off any dirt that may have accumulated while they were sitting in the garden, gathering dust). Leave them to dry.
  2. Put the wood plank over the brick and mark out where you'll be cutting it.
  3. Take the jig-saw and cut where you marked out.

  4. Take the hole saw and drill away two holes - make sure that your 2 glass bowls will fit into the holes you've drilled! (You can use the cores to make cool Christmas decorations!)

  5. Use the sander to sand away all the splinters on your feed holder.
  6. Put everything into the box as illustrated below and voila - your new Awesome (Tiny) Chicken House!

I've decided that I quite enjoy using power tools (even though I'm an engineer, most of the power tool stuff is done by my artisans) and so if anyone has any suggestions for other cool projects involving power tools, send them through!

* We weren't using any safety gear here - ideally you should wear goggles and ensure all your pieces you're working with are secured with clamps to minimise risk of injury!

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Friday, 13 December 2013

It's Love When...

It's Love When...


He got bored waiting for you to come home from work, so he folded your socks to slip on to your feet when you put them on

He messages to tell you that he's checking you in to your flight because you never get around to it and always forget

He spends all his free time with you at an overseas hospital after you had to have an emergency operation

He programs an LCD with the words "I Love You" and sends you a picture of it

He consoles you for silly little things that make you upset and doesn't mind when you get mascara on his shirts because you may have shed a tear or two

He stays up to check his messages to make sure you've got home safely - even though you live on other sides of the country


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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Goko and Family

Some of the family at Goko's 85th Birthday Celebration in 2007 (I think there's only about half of us here!)

We celebrated the life of my gran, Goko, last weekend after she passed away on the last day of November. I was amazed and touched by how many people were at her funeral. All of her children were there. Her two nieces and nephew were there. All of her grandchildren in South Africa were there, along with their spouses, partners and great-grandchildren. All of the family living overseas were remembered and sent through wishes on the day of the funeral.

At the funeral I spoke a bit about Goks - my sweaty eyes may have got the best of me, but here's what I said for those who may have missed it the first time and family who live far away.

As a tiny tot I remember going to visit Celeni; playing witchy-witchy with my cousins
using the extra-long hose-pipes that Goks used to keep her garden looking beautiful.
I remember walking through the garden with Goks, pulling up carrots and searching for
poppers, then sitting down for tea and crumpets.
When she moved to Golden Pond we would go for walks around the pond, searching
for ducks eggs and fishing for tadpoles. 
When I was in high-school, about Grade 9, Goks came to collect me from school one
day. She zoomed up to the front stairs in her little blue bakkie to collect me. As soon
as I had dumped all my paraphernalia in the back and got into the bakkie, Goks attempted
to zoom away again. However, instead zooming away from the stairs, we found ourselves 
zooming up them instead! The little blue bakkie got lodged half-way up the stairs, with
wheels spinning in mid-air and unable to move. Luckily a bus-load of girls had just pulled
up seconds after we got lodged on the stairs and in a combined effort a bunch of 
us managed to heave the little blue bakkie back onto solid ground. Goks thanked the 
girls for lending a hand and then we zoomed off, with not a hint of embarrasment.

Goks approached and overcame life's challenges like we overcame our encounter
with my school stairs - head first, quick to make a plan and once the problem
was solved, it was forgotten and life as normal carried on.
She didn't suffer fools and I was told on a few occasions to "stop being such a galoot" 
when I was being particularly foolish. She is also the only person I know that called
armpits, "quaps" - I hope that this has rubbed off on some of my family members.

Goko was an incredible grandmother and all of us knew that she would be there for
any important events in any of her grandchildren's lives - from birthdays to weddings
to school grandparents days, we knew Goks would be there. I think the fact that so many of her grandchildren have travelled huge distances to be here today is testament to the love
that each of us received from her.

In her last few years with us Goks lost a lot of the energy and spark that
characterised her and I think the whole family felt this. Goko's death is the end of an era
for our family, however she will live on in our hearts. In mine she will forever be a 
spritely, energetic, no-nonsense, rusk baking, white-haired grandmother
who helped to shape my life as well as the lives of all my cousins, leaving a legacy
that is up to us to continue. 

After the service we all gathered at Anna, my late great-aunt's house to celebrate a special gran, honour her memory and enjoy special family time together in a style that Goks would have been so proud of. That gathering was just like every other family gathering - kids were running around, playing up a storm and exploring the beautiful fairy-tale garden. The grown-ups were chatting up a storm, catching up on family news and enjoying each others company. The only difference between this event and my family memories is that this time I was one of the grown-ups whereas in the past I was usually one of the kids. Whether the past or present, the one constant was the feeling of family and belonging to a group of people who will be there for the milestones in one's life. I hope that as time goes on we can continue and pass down that strong family bond to the generations coming through.

Goko and Anna had such a strong sense of family that my dad's cousins are like aunts and uncles to us and their kids are like cousins to us. I feel so lucky that my family really do enjoy spending time together. We all have our differences and we don't see each other all that often any more, but when we get together we have such fun and share stories that keep us laughing for hours. 

We were taught by Goko and Anna the importance of presence. For important family event Goks and Anna were there. Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, weddings, births, christenings and other events were all occasions to celebrate and come together as a family. That presence allowed us to build our relationships and is the reason that at the time of her funeral, so many of us made an effort to be there. 

I think that many of us began to miss Goks even before she passed away. In her last few years she slowly morphed into someone who battled to recognise family members and spent most of her time sleeping in bed. Her death was a blessed release and now allows us remember her as she is in our memories - a lively old lady and beloved mother, grandmother, aunt and friend.

At Goko's 90th Birthday in 2012 - surrounded by family and friends

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