My birthday party

This is a post about my birthday celebration, but rather than bore you with details of people who were there whom you may not know, I wanted to share something about the party itself and its preparations…

The birthday wasn’t some big milestone (like 40!) or anything, but I just felt it called for something more than a barbeque. And so we ‘dressed up’ this party with some nice canap├ęs and went to some effort with the table settings. 














Thank you to all my friends for making it a special evening!

Image credits: Photos taken by Elanie Fourie or anyone else closest to the camera :-)

Toast & Co in Graighall Park

What a weekend!! My birthday celebrations were unexpectedly huge, somewhat expectedly awesome, and therefore completely tiring. It was fabulous.

It started on Friday when my friend Celeste treated me to a manicure and pedicure at Toast & Co, a beautiful nail spa in Craighall Park. It is a stylish and sophisticated environment with huge comfy chairs, which also makes it very relaxed and laid back. The two of us chatted non-stop while the girls gave us luxurious treatments – I loved the hand message with the wax from a soy candle. They used OPI and ESSIE nail colours and Celeste’s purple toenails looked like candy :-)

For a post-pampering spot of shopping, Toast & Co offers a lovely array of handbags, shoes and jewellery. As if we needed any more indulgence after the treatments!

The salon was started in 2009 by two sisters, Karen and Julie Levell and their sister-in-law designed the beautiful interior. Since the opening, they have added waxing and facial treatments to their menu of offerings. This combination of the beauty treatments and their retail offering makes the shop definitely interesting and unique. 













Toast & Co
Hewstone 

54 Buckingham Avenue 
Craighall Park 

You can visit their website here or like their Facebook page.

Image credits: All photography by me

Happy Birthday to me!

Actually, it will only be my birthday tomorrow, but the celebrations are already in full swing! This afternoon I will have a party at my house with friends, so the fridge is already full of bubbly. Tomorrow we are going to lunch with my sister, who is in town for the occasion. I will share the pics with you next week. Happy weekend!



Image credits: What Katie Ate

It is about the bike

All of a sudden, my two boys are cyclists. It happened overnight, but talk of cleats and disc brakes and soft tails and derailers are suddenly now part of our vocabulary.

Apparently we now need a bike rack for the car, a trip computer, fancy cycling clothes and new handlebars.

Eddy Merckx said “"Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades". But what does he know? :-)! I wish you joy in your hobby, my two Lances’. For my sake, try to stay on the bikes most of the time.



Image credits: Photo taken by me

Camping in Heidelberg

Kids love camping, as if you didn’t know. If you want to give them that adventure, you don’t have to go far – the back yard of a friend’s house in Heidelberg will do. This is no ordinary backyard, however. It’s at the back of a turn-of-the-century house, and is so large that a proper enclosed lapa fits comfortably in it. Look at the pictures below, and I think you will see that within its rustic charm, there was so much to capture that the camera kind of started snapping almost spontaneously. 


 






And to top it off, everyone had a good time camping as well!



Image credits: All photography by me

Pizzas on the braai

It started off with a simple idea: to kick start the weekly meetings of our bible study group for the new year, have a “pizza-on-the-braai” evening. Now, I have mentioned before that this blog will never be about my skills in the kitchen, and I am keeping to that promise!! I will be sharing someone else’s recipes with you :-)!

What makes this such a good concept was that you tell every person to bring their favourite pizza toppings, build what they believe to be the perfect pizza, and then foist that on everyone else. Add to this the fact that the food was then heated on an open fire, add a glass of wine or two and make everyone share in every pizza as it came off the braai. Voila, instant recipe for a successful evening!

But that’s not all, not by a long shot! My friend Retha helped me earlier the afternoon to create the pizza bases. That means the kids could get involved. They absolutely loved “helping” and every corner of my kitchen was covered in white dust by the end of the afternoon!




I used recipes from the January 2012 edition of the Marie Claire magazine. 

For the pizza base: 

750g strong white flour 
750g semolina 
50g salt 
3 x 10g sachets of dry yeast 
900ml lukewarm water 
40g honey (or sugar of caster sugar) 
Extra flour for dusting 

- Sift the flour, semolina and salt together in a bowl. 
- In another bowl, dissolve the yeast in water and add the honey of sugar. 
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and blend well. Knead the mixture to make firm dough. Cover with cling film and place in a warming drawer of oven at a very low heat (not hot). Leave to rise for about 40 minutes. 
- Knead again and set aside to rise again. Roll out fist-sized balls with an empty wine bottle – the thinner the better. 
- Bake in a preheated 180 degrees Celsius oven until the base is golden brown in colour. 

Although this recipe is for 10-12 medium-sized pizzas, we made such thin pizzas we had nearly 20 bases! 

For the basic tomato sauce: 

1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped 
2T olive oil 
2 small dried red chillies, crumbled 
3t dried oregano 
1T brown sugar 
3 x 400g tins of Italian plum tomatoes, chopped 
1T red wine vinegar 
A Handful of fresh basil, chopped 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
3T extra-virgin olive oil 

- In a heavy-bottomed pan, gently fry the garlic in the olive oil, and then add the chillies, oregano, sugar and tomatoes. Mix gently. 
- Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer gently for 1 hour. 
- Add the vinegar and stir. Add the basil, season to taste, and mix in the olive oil. 

(Makes enough for 6-8 pizza bases). 






The magic of this kind of evening is that absolutely everyone is involved, because everyone is busy preparing their own recipe – all at the same time! It’s a kind of merry chaos, all the dishes in the house get dirty, and the effect is that of a busy Italian restaurant with ten cooks. 




To top it off, the pizzas that come out of this process are authentic, they are very, very off menu, and they are fantastic. Another great recipe (see photo below): 

For a Brie & Fig pizza: 

250g soft cream cheese 
50g chopped smoked back bacon 
A few chopped preserved figs 
Slices of Brie 
Fresh rocket 

- Spread the cream cheese over the base and top with the bacon, figs and Brie. 
- Bake (or in our case, braai!) the pizza and serve garnished with a handful of fresh rocket and a drizzle of syrup from the preserved figs. 



Image credits: All photography by me

Feastt in Parktown North

What a crazy kind of week! After my computer’s hard drive was fixed and all the data restored (thanks, Tjaart!), getting the internet up and running again and installing the ADSL line (and don’t get me started on what THAT was like!), I was ready for a very lazy Saturday at home finishing the Deon Meyer novel I am reading at the moment. But by late Saturday afternoon, our boy had a bit of cabin fever, so we went for a cappuccino at a brand new child-friendly coffee shop in Parktown North, called Feastt. The deli style restaurant has a more formal inside area and an outside al fresco area. But what an outside area! The front yard houses a huge wooden jungle gym with sandpits, swings, a maze and some nets. The highlight for Daniel was a fireman’s pole that he discovered just as we were about to leave – so, bags down and another round of coffees! 











You can always tell, when walking into a place, whether they do that what they have set out to do well. It’s an atmosphere, a passion from the owners that makes it special. And so, if you’re looking for a great place to have a breakfast with friends while the kids play under, over and around your feet, Feastt does this really, really well.

Parktown Quarters,
7th Ave Parktown North,
Johannesburg

You can like their Facebook page here.


Image credits: All photography by me