Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Murder Mystery Mirth at Mabula

Bird flying away in sunset sky
Mabula Sunset
This weekend I was lucky enough to get an invite to a friends timeshare at Mabula Game Farm. It's the second time I've been there and this time was just as good as the first time we went, probably even better as we were celebrating a birthday and my last weekend in Joburg for a while!

Our game drives were conducted by Sakkie in the Entokozweni game vehicle. His smiling, cheerful face is one that you feel like you've known for years. Before our drives he would welcome us and give us a little bit of interesting information and during the drives he would stop and explain a bit about whatever animal that we were seeing, if we were seeing it for the first time. Information such as maximum weight, age and gestation period for each type of animal was given, and if the animal had any distinct markings he would point those out as well - a trademark saying of his being that the white markings on animals act as a "followme" sign. We saw less big animals and more birds this trip and I used this as an excuse to try and brush up on my bird identification skills!

Sakkie, our smiley and knowledgeable guide!

After our game drives, we were welcomed home by the delicious breakfast smells that wafted through the kitchen as Seena prepared our food. As we got off the game vehicle, there were lovely, damp scented cloths waiting for us outside so that we could clean our faces from the dust that gets kicked up during the drive. Upon walking into our rooms, the beds had been made and anything untidy-looking was made to look tidy. 

Giraffe at base of mountain
View from the veranda, where we breakfasted
One of the highlights of the weekend was playing a Murder Mystery game, organised by our host, Paul. If you've never tried out one of these games, I would suggest that you give it a try. It's a role playing game, so whatever you put in is what you get out. For a bunch of engineers and marketers, we managed to pull of a thoroughly entertaining performance - it's just a pity we didn't have an audience other than ourselves. Don't worry if you're not such a fan of role-playing. Everything is scripted and you can act it out as outrageously (or un-outrageously) as you like - I would suggest being as outrageous as possible, it makes for way better entertainment. On top of this, as we learnt at the end, the clues really are there for a reason - so pay attention when you play these games because at the end you need to use your reasoning skills to decide who you think the killer is, before the killer gets revealed to the group!

Impala in the grass

Jackal walking through the grass

Red hartebeest scratching his nose

Hippo peeking out the water

Black and white bird, white wing spots, curved orange yellow beak

Two elephants loving each other

warthog standing in a dirt road

Two giraffe eating leaves

White zebra with black stripes and black zebra with white stripes

Cloudy sky at Mabula Game Reserve

Troupe of baboons in the veld

Sun rays through the clouds onto african landscape

lilac breasted roller against a cloudy sky

Lilac breasted roller on a branch

Rhino mum and baby in Mabula

South African Sunset

Lilac Breasted Roller

Water buck in the veld

Blue under wings, blue under tail, purple or lilac breast black wing outline

secretary bird walking through grass

Secretary bird walking through the grass

Chameleon crossing dirt road


Pungent Pumpkin Processing Company
Back: Gigi Sparkle, Mavis Cheek, Investigation Panel, Clifton Curry, Professor Emmelius Bunsen, Sir Hamish Hogwash
Front: Lloyd Lunchbox, Lady "Beauty" Fading

Team Pic
Ryan, Laura, Annie, Jean, Paul, Alex, Me, Tienie

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pancakes without Eggs

Last night for about 5 minutes I stood in my kitchen feeling extremely sad.

I had decided to make pancakes as a snack for the evening as well as snack for work for the next 2 days. However, I didn't have any eggs and I was waaaaay to lazy to go to the shops to actually get some eggs. So I decided to do the next best thing and Google "eggless crepes" (not pancakes, because pancakes mean crumpets to most of the rest of the world).

Anyway, I found a delicious recipe for Egg-less Pancakes, here it is:


1 Cup Flour
0.5 cups water
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 T sunflower oil
5 ml baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon


1. Sift flour, add baking powder and cinnamon.

2. Mix the liquid ingredients together and pour into the flour mix.

3. Whisk the mixture until there are no lumps in it and it's a smooth, quite runny, consistency.

4. Set your stove to hot and put a frying pan on top. Use teeny-tiny bit of oil to lubricate it.

5. Use a ladle and spoon 1 ladle-ful of mixture into the frying pan. Tilt the frying pan around so that the mixture is even across the base. Put the pan back on the stove.

6. When small bubbles appear across the pancake surface, and the edges start to come away from the frying pan, use an egg-flip to flip the pancake over and cook the other side.

7. When golden brown on both sides, remove the pancake and cook another one.

8. Fill your pancake with whatever yummy treats you would like to - classic ones include cinnamon and sugar or caramel treat and banana. 

Pancakes without eggs
My lunch time pudding today

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Goodbye Hello

"Cause it's a bittersweet symphony this life...
- The Verve

I'm feeling extremely bittersweet about moving on to a new job. At times I feel so fed up with thinking for other people and sorting out issues that aren't mine to sort out, that I would be happy to walk out the door at that instant. And then, 5 minutes later, I start to feel extremely sad at leaving a bunch of people who I've worked closely with for the last (almost) two years.

There's a list of things that I'm not going to miss that runs through my mind on a daily basis, but for every "thing" that I won't miss I have at least one "counter-thing" that I will miss.

I will miss teaching the people who have a genuine thirst for knowledge and who use that knowledge to go out and improve the plant. To see someone use what you have taught them, it something incredibly rewarding.

I won't miss teaching the same people the same thing, day and and day out, who come to you with an issue expecting you to solve it before they've even looked at the issue themselves. It's soul-destroying and frustrating.

I will miss meetings that turn into an impromptu chat with the other 1 person who is also on time, where you learn more about work and the history of the factory than you would have from the meeting that was meant to happen.

I won't miss going to meetings where arriving on time is considered to be early and the word "late" does not seem to exist in peoples vocabulary. Neither do the words "Sorry I'm late" exist.

I will miss the fact that when I've been called out by one of my team, no matter what mood I'm in, somehow I always leave with a smile on my face.

I won't miss the job and the fact that I work at a place that never sleeps. Ever. And the guilt of missing calls or not being able to help when you're far away, even though it's not even your problem to begin with.

I will miss being able to disappear into the factory for hours at a time when I have nothing to do in my office and a craving to walk around. No one ever questions someone walking around the factory, making sure the lines are running smoothly.

I won't miss my heart speeding up and adrenaline coursing through my veins every time my phone rings - because usually it's someone from work. I won't miss being complained to but not ever given a solution for those same complaints. Being told about problems that don't concern me and being expected to fix them or know why they're there. Repeating myself day in and day out, reminding people (who are grown ups) to just do their jobs. Going to battle every day, suited up in white coat, earplugs and hairnet. Banging. My. Head. Against. A. Brick. Wall. 

I will miss the people. The individuals who commiserate with me when I'm frustrated and celebrate with me when we get something right. The ones who have been at the factory for years. And the ones who have been here for a few months. I will miss our Engineering morning meeting prayers. How everyone greets each other, no matter if you've seen that person 3 times before that day or if you're complete strangers. Planning fun events for new grads with a group of people who are based at all our different sites. Trips to Durban HO. The laughs I share with my team and learning about people who are so different to me in so many ways, but similar to me in the ways that count. I will miss learning and interacting with company leaders who challenge our points of view. Promising to go for coffee breaks with colleagues every day, almost going to a coffee break (and then one of us gets called to look at something) and then finally, actually going for that break about 2 weeks later. 

Maybe one day I'll come back and see how the factory is looking. Maybe I wont. Either way I'll be sad to say goodbye. On the flip side, I'm excited for what the future hold and new challenges that are coming my way. I'm down to single digit sleeps until my last day. I can hear Cape Town calling!

Girl jumping on path with yellow flowers

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014


This Valentine's Day will be the first time we've been apart in 5 years. Seems like a lifetime and a minute ago that we first started dating but either way it's been such fun and we've both learnt a lot. Frosty gave me a card for my birthday last year, at the front was written

I love this quote and think that it pretty much sums us up.


On Valentine's Day 5 years ago I went to pre-drinks with a group of mates and then went on to watch the Sharks play the Stormers at Newlands Rugby Stadium. I remember taking a taxi there (one of those proper taxis, with the guy at the front shouting our final destination each time we stopped), and being made to down the remainder of the vodka-coke mix that we had all been sharing during the pre-drinks session. Lets just say I didn't register much of that rugby match...Lucky I don't usually watch rugby, so I don't feel like I missed out too much. I was walked home and put into bed by Frosty before the sun had even gone down (but it stays light until late in Cape Town in summer time, so it probably wasn't that early). He went out to party with some friends for the rest of that night. On the plus side, going to bed so early meant I woke up fresh as a daisy the next morning! I even saw the beautiful sunrise!

Needless to say, it wasn't a particularly romantic Valentine's Day, but it was only after the day that we decided to use Valentine's Day to mark our anniversary. Makes it easy for Frosty to remember and I get to tease him that he got me horribly drunk during our first Valentine's Day together.

The next year it was slightly more romantic. We went camping in Franschhoek and just took some time to chill and explore the area. It was an awesome thing to do and hopefully in the near future we'll be doing a bit more exploring of those areas. I think on that year we also went out for dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday and got to watch the sun setting over Clifton/Bantry Bay and learnt all about Greek food.  

For our 2nd anniversary, I can't really remember what we did. But it was a Monday night. I think we probably just went out for dinner? Or maybe we went out for an O-week party? No. Idea.
Edit: I've been reminded that we went on a double-date to Signal Hill on this Valentine's day with friends: Russell and Cat. I have no idea why I didn't remember this, as it was a pretty fun afternoon/evening watching the sun set over the sea, drinking wine and eating yummy snacks!

We were in the States for our 3rd anniversary. We woke up early before work so we could open gifts. Frosty hid my gifts in the safe that was in my room and made me hunt for them - I  was very impressed, my romantic training was starting to pay off. Then I went on to work and he went to sleep because he had to work later on that night.

I had dinner with another guy on Valentine's day on our 4th anniversary. But it was because I was waiting to pick Frosty up from the airport and unintentionally I had made plans with my friend for that night. And it helped to make the time go quicker while waiting for Frosty to arrive. (Don't worry Frost, we talked mainly about long distance relationships and how much they suck.) I made him a cute painting series to commemorate the highlights of the last four years.

And this Valentine's day we'll be apart. I'm driving to KZN for the weekend to drop stuff at home in preparation for moving out my flat. Frosty hands his thesis in on Friday and will probably be catching up on sleep and enjoying his first free weekend in a while. And we'll celebrate when I get to Cape Town, only 17 more sleeps until I arrive back in the Cape and I'm too excited to be heading back soon!

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Monday, 10 February 2014

Long Distance - The Good and Bad

Hiking in Baberton
Taking a rest while going for an afternoon
stroll in the top of the highest
peak in Swaziland :)

So, for almost 2 years, Frosty and I have been living a 2 hour plane ride apart - he in Cape Town and I in the East Rand. We've tried to see each other as much as possible, but in general there is about a month in between the times that we see each other. This is soon coming to an end as I'm going back to the Cape soon. But I thought it would be useful to reflect on what I've learnt about long distance relationships and how we survived a long distance relationship.

Many relationships don't survive long distances and I can understand why - living apart from your significant other is difficult! Especially when you're used to spending most of your time together.

However, distance can be a good thing and gives you a chance to grow into your own person, without an "and" separating you and your partners names, automatically classifying you as one entity. Especially since we spent most of our varsity time together, our friends are all the same and they've grown used to viewing us as a couple. 

As time has gone on, I've tried to change my point of view and turn my own frustrations into happiness (or at least acceptance). So, here is my list of the frustrations, happiness and lessons learnt from long distance (and approved by Frosty who shares my sentiments).


Your significant other goes out for the night or away for the weekend - dinner, house party, drinks, camping, you name it. You're so tired you could fall asleep where you're standing but for some reason you just can't get to sleep or turn off your brain and you spend the entire night/weekend/day being jealous of the fun they're having and wondering what they're getting up to with a bunch of people that you've never met before.

You're exhausted, so you use their going out or being busy as an excuse to jump into bed early, read a page or two of your book and go to sleep all before they've even left to go out for the night. If it's for a longer period of time you organise to visit friends in the big city over the weekend. Otherwise, when you're not sleepy/can't sleep you use the time to catch up on activities that you don't get a chance to do when you're together and have missed doing.

Lesson Learnt
When you don't live in a particularly social area or most of your friends live far away, you need to find other ways to keep busy so that you don't drive yourself crazy wondering what they're up to. Especially when they live in an area that is significantly more social than yours. If it's for a longer period of time, try to organise to see friends who live slightly-too-far-to-pop-in-for-a-cup-of-tea, but close-enough-that-a-weekend-visit-is-awesome.

One of you is busy for what seems like days on end for whatever reason. You're lucky to get/be able to give a 5 minute phone call or a quick 2 line message.

Catching up afterwards. At least the next time you talk properly one of you hopefully has lots of interesting news. Plus, often the busy stages seem to be just before you get to see each other - so it means that the number of sleeps on your countdown is getting smaller!

Lesson Learnt
Life comes in waves. Sometimes it's busy. Sometimes it's mind-numbingly slow. The busy times give you a chance to catch up nicely and have a different conversation to the normal day-to-day conversations. And if they're being busy and you're feeling forgotten, tell them. Sometimes that busyness can be postponed until a later stage.

Trust and jealousy. It's hard to trust each other and not let irrational jealous thoughts run through your mind when you're far away. Even when you know that you can, without a doubt-no questions asked trust each other, it's difficult. New friends - especially those of the opposite sex, are especially hard to come to terms with. Because then the jealous "what if's" start and it's hard to shut them up, even when you know it's irrational.

Actions speak louder than words and sometimes you just have to have faith in each other and be happy in that faith.

Lesson Learnt
Trust is hard and the only way that it can happen is by showing the other that you can be trusted and having faith in your partner. Dealing with jealousy is also hard, because your imagination runs wild and even when you know you're being irrational you can't help your thoughts. It helps to tell the other person when you're not comfortable with something (but wait a day until your rational mind is back). You also need to be completely honest with each other and tell each other your concerns and why you feel a certain way about something.


Not seeing each other for a long time. It's in those small moments - going for a walk, watching a movie, sharing a meal - that relationships are built. Sometimes you feel out of touch because you miss out on these moments.

Counting down the days and hours until you see each other again. You make the most out of the time you do spend together. You cherish the time spent together and do more special stuff, just because you don't get to do it on a whim.

Lesson Learnt
The anticipation of seeing someone after not seeing them for a long time is a special type of excitement. And nothing beats a real life hug hello. Also, having a time limit on how long you're going to be apart is a huge help in getting you through the seemingly endless days of not being with someone.


Moral of the story: long distance is hard. But it can also be worth it if you're willing to make the most of being apart.

Surviving Long Distance Relationships

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Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Making And Inspiration Of My Under The Sea Paintings

Near the end of 2012, I was staying in Durban and saw the paintings below at the hotel that I was staying at (for the life of me I can't remember the name of the hotel). I loved the boldness and brightness of the colours in these paintings as decided at some stage in the future to try something similar for myself. I stupidly didn't take a note of the artist either - so if you painted these, or know who did, please let me know so I can credit them!

Inspiration for my own "Under The Sea" series

Last year over Easter time, I went to the 2 Oceans Aquarium with Frosty and his family and I took some awesome pictures of some of the ocean life there. When I got back home, I decided to make the 4 pictures below into an "Under The Sea" series of paintings, using the bold colour pallets of the paintings above as an inspiration.

Clown Fish
Amphiprioninae - Clown Fish

Puffer fish against red background
I have no idea what type of fish this is - any suggestions would be welcome!
Edit: this could be a puffer fish, but I think I'll take a trip to the aquarium to verify as well!

Bright yellow baby box fish
Ostracion cubicus - Yellow Box Fish (juvenile)
Jellyfish under UV light
Medusozoa - Jellyfish (unsure of the exact type)
I started off with the clown fish and really enjoyed putting this painting together. I love the contrast of the orange, black and white that are on this fish and it fits in perfectly with my "bright and bold" theme!

How to paint a clown fish 1
Outline in pencil

How to paint a clown fish 2
Filling in the base orange colour

How to paint a clown fish 3
Putting in some details

How to paint a clown fish 4
Adding in the black and shading in the white areas

How to paint a clown fish 5
Putting the background together

How to paint a clown fish 6 completed painting
The final product of my first part of the series!

And the original image - for comparison

I then moved on to the, at this stage, unknown, fish. I chose this one because I loved how the red background and angle of the photograph made a rather plain and simple fish look so much more interesting.

How to paint a puffer fish 1
Pencil outline getting the basic size and shapes in place

How to paint a puffer fish 2
Starting off with the base coats to give underlying form to the fish

How to paint a puffer fish 3
Adding on the next layer to get the top looking more realistic

How to paint a puffer fish 4
Putting in some more details like fins and spots

How to paint a puffer fish 5 completed painting
The final product - bold very red!

Again, the original picture

I decided to do the juvenile yellow box fish third and found this one more difficult than I originally thought it would be. I actually got to the "almost completed" stage and then left it for a few months because I started to get over trying to make it look nice, for a while. I remember learning at school and varsity that blue and yellow provide one of the most visually noticeable
contrasts and I think that this yellow box fish verifies this idea. 

How to paint a box fish 1
Getting an idea of the basic layout that my painting would take

How to paint a box fish 2
Filling in some yellow. You can see here that the underbelly of the fish isn't looking
great at this point...

How to paint a box fish 3
An almost completed image

How to paint a box fish 4
With bubbles and a slightly better looking underbelly

The fish from the photograph

I lastly put together the painting of the jellyfish. I've always found jellyfish to be rather mystical creatures and love that when they are lit up in the aquarium, it almost seems that the light is radiating from within them.

How to paint a jellyfish 1
I usually start most of my painting off in pencil, although I don't often put
the details in with pencil

How to paint a jellyfish 2
This time I decided to paint the background first and then move on to the actual jellyfish.
This is a great example of what "negative space" is. Basically you concentrate on
drawing everything that surrounds the object and you don't focus on the object itself.

How to paint a jellyfish 3
With a light coating of blue in the jellyfish and a forgotten slice of background
colour within the jellyfish tentacles

How to paint a jellyfish 4
The painting is starting to come together at this point, with the top of the jellyfish starting to
look as though light is emanating from within it

How to paint a jellyfish 5
The completed jellyfish, along with cute little "stars" to add to the mystery of the creature
The jellyfish that I found at the 2 Oceans Aquarium

And finally - the completed series of paintings all together!

Jellyfish, clown fish, puffer fish, box fish paintings
All 4 paintings together. They make quite a handsome group, even if I say so myself.
I'm really looking forward to hanging these up - I think that my aim of putting together something that was bright and bold really was realised by this series of paintings. 

Each of these paintings took me about a weekend, on average, from start to finish. Some only took me a few hours while others took a solid day to 2 days to complete properly.

Now I just need to find some inspiration for my next set of paintings! Any suggestions are welcome!

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