Monday, March 29, 2010

Ben10 Themed Birthday

It was not possible for me to have my son's birthday party on the 20th, a day after he turned 7. I decided to have it last Saturday the 27th. He demanded a Ben10 themed birthday party.
 He was involved in the whole planning and he definitely knew what he wanted. From the invitation to the jumping castle. And the cake was among the most important parts of the Ben10 branding. It has to be big and daddy ordered a perfect cake. I am very impressed.

I wouldn't have done this without Poppy, my party organiser. I am never organising any function by myself again. Its been a less stressful occasion, even though at times I felt like the "mother of the bride".
Party packs were off course done an evening before. The party was held at home. In the clubhouse. That was so convenient. I could walk in between my house and the clubhouse in 1 minute.
The jumping castle was the most underutilised party accessory. Everyone was just like a fish, wanting to swim. It was used for less than 5 minutes whilst hired for the whole day.

Aka was very happy on his day. He mentioned another party soon. That scared me as I was so relieved at the end of the day.

His best friend, with whom he spends every afternoon gave him a huge gift. They are so inseperable and she did report to me that he was ignoring her in the party and I had to try help. But there were boys so he was not into girls. Great childhood friendships.

That pool was efficiently used for a change. These kids never get tired of swimming, diving, sliding into water. And I was sitting comfortably, clicking for his 7th birthday album.

Best friends from school. They do look like nerds, incl Aka. Now I know why he is always into computers and libraries. These two boys were so happy to see Aka, just like I feel when I see girlfriends.

My designer friend Ilse provided all the graphics we used. Even the paper plates were branded by us from Ilse's designs. She is just the best in children designing. And the invitations were the best. Thanks my friend.

  Back home, it was the opening of gifts. OMG the mess they left. The friend had to go home after 8pm. And some adults were continuing with the party outside my house. Whiskey was apparently in the menu. I was comfortable in the house enjoying the look with every present opened. But I did not object to them sitting in the patio.

This was Aka's happiest day yet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Love of Pretoria South Africa

 Jackaranda trees lining the streets in October. Nothing beats them.
A blog for the love of Pretoria South Africa. And off course for the Earth Hour 2010 fast approaching. Please support the Earth Hour by switching off your lights for ONLY 1 hour at 8:30 pm. Go to bed if you have to, I know that feels like you are a coward or something. OK stay up and wait for 9:30.

 A beautiful city. Rich in history.
I hope the damage we are continuously doing to the environment will be reversible  at some point. Let's just pray that another scientist will come up with some smokey particles we can blow to sort our ozone layer and renew it. I know, my imagination is not quite as scientific. Anyhow, do your bit, take care of the environment. Limit your consumption of just about everything. You will see the difference it will make to your pocket too.

 Being Geographically challenged, I appreciate good road signs that SA offers.

Back to the love of Pretoria South Africa.Just one other bit of another interruption. My pretty hectic week ended with my son's birthday last Friday. So it being a long weekend helped. Then the new week which I expected to be uneventful led to me listening to Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive" and being all emotional. I think I am getting too old and a bit hormonal. Maybe a little more than just a bit.

 Shopping prior and after recession. I love grocery shopping.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Easy DIY Stuff

After my crazy long distance driving I needed to take time to myself. I realise I don’t know how to just relax anymore. I have to read, write or craft. I can’t sleep during the day as my mind is constantly busy. I wanted to forget about a desperately dirty 2 bedroom duplex I should refurbish for rentals, unfurnished. And a 4 bedroom duplex to furnish and decorate.

My basket as it was bought in the market

I went out to get me something I can paint on. A storage basket. Luckily Maputo, has crafts everywhere. I bought oil based paint suitable for wood from Atterbury builders warehouse. The problem is that, my basket was previously vanished in a clear colour. My dad would have removed that varnish first.
Very spacious. Great storage option
I did not buy a liquid paint remover and I had 2 hours to spare. I just started painting it in a redish colour. The colour is called “claret” and the paint is Plascon Super Universal Enamel.

After the first coat of paint
Well I still have to line the inside of the basket with capulanas and use ropes in the handles.
It did turn out Great, even though its not finished
I have since ordered 3 more of these baskets to paint in different colours to store a number of things I have around my home. I’ll even have one under the server in the entrance hall. These are really great for storage. You can stash them under your stairs, in kids bedrooms, in toy rooms, really everywhere. They look great but only after painting.
 That's my 1958 Chevrolet model car, not my son's toy by the way.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Delmas Farm Life

Hope I manage to load all my draft posts today. I had a week full of events but no time to post anything in this blog. Anyway, last Saturday we (me, friend, friend’s model daughter) decided to go to Delmas. This is after our trip to La Montagne, to a beautiful 3 level home. I will later add the photos of this sectional title home. Once again we were to meet friend’s mom and sister in Delmas this afternoon.

I wish I took photos of the pub where we had a wait. We had no idea it was a bar. It looked like a restaurant to us. We didn’t deliberately take a minor to the bar. Well she looked 18 in her high heels. It helps to be with classy teens.

It turns out Delmas is like living in a previous century. We had frowns and the tension in the house was so intense. We reckoned, they didn’t welcome being blessed by an African girl’s presence in their midst. It was so painful to see the owner struggling to give her glasses for us to use. The arrival of friend’s mom and sister was the end of the pub owner’s pain.

Off we went to see more interesting people and places. The first plot we visited was interesting. Wooden house and all. But the second one was really WOW. Tennis court, a pony and horse stables, lovely house in general. I haven’t received my photos from my friend yet. I just adore horses. The pony was very cute and in a rare black and white coat. I am one of those people who can live in a farm anytime.

After the farm visits and some slices of cake we drove to Boksburg to have dinner. And we still had to drive to Pretoria, which we did that same evening. I had a short nap in the car and so did my friend’s teen daughter. One thing was on my mind when we got home...SLEEP and lots of it.

A few minutes after getting to the bedroom, a scream followed by a heavy knock came. My friend rushed to the door to open. Being paranoid a bit, I thought she is not supposed to open in such a rush nogal. It turns out its a neighbour and her son. Hubby got somehow physically abusive to this boy who is a stepson of his, and when mommy tried to rescue her son, he started with her. I was very scared for this boy as apparently it is not the first time this happens. I just couldn’t sleep. It was police calls, comforting, cryings, throughout. After all that drama, I went to bed just after 2am.

What a day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good Education

The whole of last week was school for me. On the first day I had no idea we start at 7h30 in the morning. I don’t know who came with such a crazy idea in Pretoria’s crazy traffic. I tried leaving at 6h30, it didn’t work. I took more than an hour to travel Lynwood road.

I got clever on the third day and used the N4 and yes I took 45 minutes. And it was official, I was excited for travelling that short distance in more than 30 minutes. I am happy I don’t do that every day.

A fraction of the books I have to read this year. Aren't I lucky.

The course I am doing is just the best studying I ever done in my life. It’s better than Maths, or Interior decor. Ag it’s just plain good practical education. I managed to apply what I learnt in my professional life the very first day of our block week. I am so glad I started this.

Everything went well except for my disturbed diet, extremely dirty car and too much adrenaline rush. I will forever lift my glass “to good education”. One thing happened every day, without fail, for the whole week – my son asked me “did you buy my Bakugan game?” and every time I said, I will buy it baby. But I still had no idea what that looked like and I still couldn’t even get the name right.

Oh...I also ate too much sweets and junk food.

Sunday Family Lunches

After all the drama had passed and my car was again in tip-top condition I arrived in Pretoria. I was at this point all for rest. I had plans to take regular walks within an estate but I think, maybe tomorrow afternoon.

I am told that my friend’s mom has prepared Sunday lunch dinner for us in Brakpan. She is coming with it today for all of us to have some family time together. She will be coming with her other daughter who shares her space with her. Sunday meals are great but I’m a bit uncomfortable about the thought of an older girl going all out for us but I am determined to enjoy whatever that shows on the table.

Dinner is Served

Clearly I was more exhausted than I thought, judging by the quality of my photo above. I actually tried to take 3 photos and I only found this lousy one. See my friend’s daughter who is a young model and dancer not clear in the photo. She is such a cute teenager.

When I later had a chat with Mr V and my kids, Aka consistently asked "Mama please get me the "Bakugan game". I never got that name right, no matter how slow he uttered. I thought its some sort of a gun. I sure had to get that for him as his 7th birthday is fast approaching.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Love Men Actually

I left Maputo for Pretoria last week Saturday. Naturally, I delayed until 11:10 am to take off. Mr V did that quick car service he always does before I leave home. Water...check; oil...check; tyres... with a worried look on his face... "I think this tyre is not bad but when you get to Pretoria, get it checked at a tyre place".

 Maputo, Mozambique

Arms folded from a distance, I give a smile and think, “you are an angel”. After assuring my son I will be back with the full page list of toys he demands, I took off to my first home, Pretoria. I hate driving but I’m looking forward to Mpumalanga’s fresh air and nice landscape.
 Apartments by the beach in Maputo

Crossing the border is definitely the worst part of my travelling. No queuing both sides, I am so tired and sleepy and I’m still in Mozambique. I call Mr V (I always call at the border) and he “orders” me to stop by KFC just after the border to rest. A call again immediately we dropped; “no, rather stop at Sasol garage, it will be easier to join the road later, KFC is on the wrong side”. Will men ever stop thinking for us. Not complaining though as my mind is so lazy.

Nelspruit Roads
 Everyone can change a tyre right? I try to smile at a few passing motorists; not working. I take out the spare wheel which leaves my hands totally filthy. That was the scariest part. Cautious of my white tracksuit, I decide to smile to motorists some more. Meanwhile, my tyre changing girlfriend and Mr V’s friend are on their way. Just as I thought I should just wait and keep busy with my calls, a car full of men pulls off. Its 5 men to be exact. I’ve never been so glad to see 5 men in my life.  I just thought to myself... I've changed my mind, I need men in my life. 
 Evidence that it was just red bull, nothing stronger or illegal

 I always appreciate men’s ability to mow lawns, take out the trash, open tight jars, but never thought I need them beyond that, (except for Mr V). You know what? Men are an essential accessory from now onwards. Everyone was saying I must be careful of strangers. Its true but I was stuck near the darkest forest I ever saw and the insurance people would probably take longer than my friend who was 6+6 minutes away from me. At that moment all I wanted was help in any shape or form.

Pretoria South Africa
 Those guys were so excited, like all men would be when they meet a girl with no clue how to survive in the men's world. They proudly kept saying "driving is not for women". Me, not bothered. I don’t want to start a debate that will delay their important work of changing a tyre. I just smiled and thought I really need men in my life. 5 of them, to change my tyre. And 6 minutes later I was home, safe. Men, ROCK.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Food No More

In an attempt to be super nice, Mr V(hubby) takes me to the restaurant on Friday evening. Well I was in Maputo due to drive to Pretoria the following morning. I just hate driving long distances alone. I usually pack about 20 CDs with great intentions and almost, always listen to one CD all the way to Pretoria and everywhere else I drive to thereafter.

Below is the picture of Redezio Real Restaurant which hosted us for the evening.
Redezio Real Restaurant
It was as empty as it looks because we were a little too early for dinner. I have no idea where this 7h30 dinner idea comes from. I can do a lot of things after 7:00 but eating is not one of them.
I noticed that the restaurant is part of the Girassol Hotels
Drinks for Mr V and espresso for me. A Portuguese local newspaper looks like it have great news but NADA, I haven't gone that far with my lessons. I tried though. 
The decor colours are really great for your appetite

You really eat until you you want food no more in this restaurant. I am no fan of the bottomless kinda servings. It was so many kinds of meat, beans, salads and rice. Then the drinks and desserts. A small word of advice, leave home very hungry. 

Mr V thinks I failed the test of eating in Redezio. But I received no tips prior to my visit.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kruger Park South Africa

Architecture is one of my passions. I draw house plans all the time. I think I am a real estate developer at heart. I was raised by a constructor daddy, and I find drawing beautiful houses is somewhat relaxing.

 Kruger Park, Limpopo Entrance
My other hobby has always been house viewing, dreamt of owning a home staging company, studied towards an interior décor diploma, to enhance my décor hobby, owned a décor small business, blah, blah, blah. So the home and garden industry is very close to my heart.

  Kruger Park, Limpopo Entrance
Now when I visited Kruger Park, through the Limpopo gate in 2008, I was blown away by these rest rooms. So South African, I must say. They were not as impressive inside though. in terms of the hygiene levels. Or am I fussy? Could be. They used stone and mud throughout this area, close to the entrance.

  Kruger Park, Bathrooms
 The tuckshop looks similar. The material used is natural and has a cooling effect for the harsh summers in the area. Natural is always beautiful. Well, we saw lots of animals too but the Mpumalanga side of Kruger has a lot more animals to offer. But Limpopo is known for birding.

And the medal goes to...

I am biased, but South Africa is beautiful.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fringes Coffee Shop in Pretoria

 Fringes Coffee Shop in Brumeria, Pretoria
I had a meeting with a friend and a friend who is about to be an associate of mine at Fringes Coffee Shop in Pretoria, Brummeria. Sounds like a Salon name, doesn't it?

NRF, Brummeria, Pretoria, South Africa
If I had coffee or something similar to that, I would fully review this restaurant but no, we all had water. Not because Fringes sounds like a hairstyle, but because we were in a hurry... it was 13h00, the friend had another meeting at 3pm, and the "soon to be associate" friend had a meeting at 2pm at NRF. Oh, sorry, that's the National Research Foundation (NRF). Hate acronyms.

Couldnt resist, I love direction boards. This is by Fringes.

I just love where the coffee shop is situated. Nice view as we were sitting, laughing and chatting on the deck under the red umbrellas. Sipping our water off course. Let me mention that, even though a friend and an "about to be associate" friend were meeting for the first time, they were in stitches, laughing out loud. Magic moment of having two strangers enjoying each other's company like that. Or am I that good.

Just so you see there is a salon next door, which might have been inspiration for the name 

If you are having a meeting with an academic from the NRF or CSIR, you may try Fringes or a salon next to it to spruce your hairstyle. By the way, the "soon to be associate" friend is doing her PhD. Something I hope I'll never copy from her.

Fringes Physical Address
Meiring Naudé Road
PRETORIA, South Africa

Mpumalanga, South Africa

 Mpumalanga, South Africa
Mpumalanga is the most beautiful province in South Africa. OK, that's my humble opinion. I love the table mountain, V&A Waterfront and the Kango Caves of the Western Cape, the beaches and adorable small towns of the Eastern Cape, the hole in the Northern Cape, diversity and possibilities in Gauteng, etc. But Mpumalanga is just full of surprises.

That's not because of Kruger Park or any of the wild animals, nor because of Sir Richard Branson's home but because of its surprising beauty. This is the reason I choose to drive, time and time again instead of flying between Pretoria and Maputo.

Eating at Millys Restaurant on the way I think in Belfast

I love the curved roads, driving through the mountains, breathing clean air from the forests that line the N4, and the beautiful small towns all the way. I love it.

And guess whom I met in Belfast (Millys) balancing her cute body in the rubbish bin?
Kruger Park is off course the bonus. I will be visiting it soon for my newly found hobby, "Birding". If only my cameras were sophisticated enough to capture this tiny creatures. Or I have to upgrade my equipment, AGAIN. Some hobbies are just too expensive...

     Guess again, whose photo I begged for...   

What's your favourite province in SA?

Arcadian Heights, Arcadia, Pretoria

Arcadian Heights, Arcadia, Pretoria 

A block of flats that I visit quite often in Arcadia. I actually visit a lot of places in Pretoria even though I am a resident. Just last week, I stayed in Pretoria East, Six Fountains Residential Estate, and earlier in January I stayed in Pretoria West and in December I stayed at Grootfontein Country estate and in Leeuwenhof Estate. Just writing about this is exciting. I love this city, boring, laid back, or whatever the beach trotters call it.

Undercover Parking with separate entrance

Anyway, back to the Arcadian Heights, Pretoria. I think this is a very cute part of Pretoria. Blocks of apartments are smaller and fewer floors. No load shedding, power failure and damaged lift worries. Don’t get me wrong, I use a lift every time I visit my friend, her husband and their cute son. And I fall in love with this block of flats again and again. No specific reason for this love, could be my friend’s mature, elegant and gorgeous Italian furniture and decor. Or the generous volume of their space.

This entrance is in Pretorius Street, so close to the road

Like most families, they have tried house shopping but struggle to get the similar generosity in space in the modern small sized room suburbs. Houses are getting tinier. Not to mention gthe lack of convenience. In Pretorius Street, where Arcadian Heights is located, there is Muelmed Private Hospital, Arcadia Primary, a number of crèches and boys and girls High Schools, Arcadia branch of Tshwane University of Technology to the West, a walking distance to the University of Pretoria further East and Loftus Versfeld Stadium next to UP, a number of embassies, just a stone throw away from the Union Buildings, and a lot more amenities and tourist attractions to mention.

I ask myself this question so often: Why do we live so fat from all this convenience?

Maputo Mozambique Floods

Maputo, Mozambique is like my second home. A story for another day.

Maputo Mozambique Floods

When I told my mother that I will spend some time in Mozambique from 2009, she did not like the idea. She never even thought of malaria, which was my initial concern. She mentioned floods. That was the least of my worries. I thought of my daughter and malaria.
I don't know what that driver is thinking actually!

When you are in Pretoria, you never really get the malaria exposure and you hear all the horror stories. The travel clinic made Maputo sound like a war zone, where the chances of survival are 50/50. After my investment in research and doctor interviews, I was just set to have a second temporary home in Maputo. We went for it as a family. I now enjoy the best of both worlds. Mozambique is quite exotic and beautiful in its natural way. However, not everyone can see past its flaws. Well, I am good at judging things by their potential.

And yes, that's the road for cars, not boats.

Later on, I will share some images of Mozambique, the beaches and other tourist destinations. It’s such a beautiful country. Very poor, but rich in natural tourism resources. Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city has a cluttered feel. Lots of people, small roads and overcrowded beach. I think this place was meant for a lower population of Portuguese people. But the vibe is just great and totally different to South Africa’s. Overall, its a great place to be.
Walking from work.

Last week, January 20s, 2010, my mom’s nightmare came to pass. There were heavy rains and flooded roads. I was in Pretoria when it started and my family was in Maputo, worried about my Honda Civic’s ability to swim. This car is just not the best for Mozambique’s roads, rain or sunshine. Check the photos above to see the water levels in the city roads.

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