Monday, 31 October 2016

Stay with me

Good morning. Sun's up. Time to run.






And I just have to share that last week was a good one - we ran every day. And by ran, I mean that we (mostly) ran the longer part to our coffee stop, and then walked the short way back. Good stuff.

And whilst you're probably picturing "run" as a hair-blown-back, beautifully graceful, bounding through the tree-lined streets moment, let me assure you that it's not. A better picture would be hair bouncing, legs shuffling, try not to get hit by a taxi, while your friend grabs you by the flailing arm (thanks M) so that you stay upright moment. That's how we roll, people.

Aren't you proud? I am. And this week, we're doing it again. 

So the song, as we bound off into the sun, is Stay With Me by Rubber Duc. Because "when you're down and you feel funny; only you can make the sun even more sunny, if you stay with me. Stay with me."

I love the clip, because it's got one of my favourite places to run on it - the East Coast of sunny SA. I love to run as the sun rises over that beautiful ocean. 

Such a catchy tune.

Now get running, if you wanna stay with me this week (and you do). And watch out for those taxis.






More running moments.....

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Ten of the Best #69



Morning crazy peeps that make my life worth living. Thanks for all the wonderful posts on your timelines that I didn't have time to read during the week. 

I stayed up late to get through them all, and here they are - starting our weekend the right way. Grab your coffee, and come right back. It's been a week.


Richard Poplak summarizes our week in SA for us. So does Zapiro, in the cartoon. Click Zapiro to get to Poplak.



Here are the 6 quotes from Pravin’s Presidential Podium, because who has ever listened to a medium-term budget speech in full? Methinks this will be forever remembered as the wounded buffalo moment. Bravo Pravin. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Friday Books - the Insect Farm

I am so glad it's Friday. 

It means we get to link up with these wonderful Blogs and share our favourite things - Books.


BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are where you'll find them. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Affair by Sue Hickey and Philippa Sklaar

 

Sue Hickey is a psychologist, and Philippa Sklaar a domestic abuse and affair survivor. This book is a compilation of thoughts, reflections and stories from inside the minds of the Narcissistic Cheater, the Sexual Predator and the Romance Addict - the profiles of those who cheat.

"I know that cheating has nothing to do with loving or not loving, but it does destroy love, among other things" is a great example of the type of honesty and truth found here. 

"Finally I learnt that this obsessive search for details was an itch I did not need to scratch. What I really needed was my dignity and common sense, both of which were lost in the witch hunt."

That is what makes this book brave and unique - it tells stories from both sides of the betrayal fence without judgement and (mostly) in the safety of anonymity. Whilst you're gaping with incredulity at the shocking lies other people tell themselves and their committed partners, you can't help admiring the personal growth in admitting and sometimes dealing with the issues. And if you want to go there, while you're at it, you can also start to face some of the very demons you're reading about. That's the power of good story. We're all human, and fallible. Potential for evil and harm, seen in another, can reflect and expose parts of us we didn't notice before. Dealing with our own brown matter makes us better at doing relationships.

My favourite part of reading this book with its gorgeous creepy cover was the looks I got while doing so. I could see the minds ticking, and I fought many a smile. I think I'll keep it in my bag a little longer - for the train, the hairdresser, and the waits at the doctor's rooms. It's so much fun.

5 stars

ISBN:9781920601


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions

This is my comfort food - chicken with onions, garlic and mushrooms. I found a healthy recipe, and adapted it to suit my family. I think I could make it in my sleep. I think I could eat it in my sleep too. All m favourite things.

You'll need

6 chicken breasts, skinless and trimmed (200g/7oz each)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 punnet mushrooms, sliced
250ml chicken stock
250ml crème fraîche
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley/oreganum for garnish
1 broccoli, steamed, to serve

Fry the chicken breasts in a pan sprayed with olive oil for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the same pan and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry until golden-brown. If they start to stick, add a little stock to the pan.

Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the stock. Bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, lower the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir the crème fraîche and parsley into the sauce and serve immediately with the cooked broccoli.

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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

From the Goodreads blurb: 

"Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She's still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she's with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy's womb.

Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers."


I loved the concept - a foetus tells a story. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Children Act, which wasn't my first Ian McEwan novel.

The writing is clever, and beautifully structured. If you can get your mind around the fact that this foetus knows far more than can be absorbed through his sensory powers - hearing especially, and the disturbing middle-aged thoughts this tiny not-even-baby-yet has, you will enjoy this novel.

I didn't.

Many years ago my then fiancé now husband and I chose a diamond for an engagement ring, and when asked, we shared with the expert German jeweller our thoughts on design. We were so excited to see it the first time, and inspected it carefully, trying to hide our disappointment. "This isn't what we discussed," we finally admitted with no small degree of reluctance. "I know," he retorted with glee, "but I wanted it to look this way. I'll make you another." A week later we had our ring.

This is Ian McEwan telling a story his way. It had its moments, but mostly I didn't like the characters, didn't enjoy the perspective and all the rambling thoughts were clever, but annoying.

I can imagine Ian with his head to one side, and a half wry Mona Lisa smile reading this. It won't worry him. I think it is exactly the kind of review he was after.

ISBN: 9781911214335




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Monday, 24 October 2016

Shout out

Sometimes it's not about the lovely words, the good feelings, the wonderful effects of getting up early to run. Sometimes it's just about getting out of bed and doing it. Because we always do. And we know why.





That's when you know this is a good habit. You're going anyway, whatever your running partner is doing. Earphones in, you'll get it done this morning. Whatever.

On those days the music is not all that relevant, either. You can move to Justin Timberlake or even Pentatonix. Catchy tune or a good melody, even just a pumpy bass, it'll make you go.

This song is great for that - Shout out to my ex.

The lyrics are completely irrelevant to me, but I love the sass, the way I'll probably sing this all day and the fun video clip.

Hope it gets you out of bed and moving this morning.

See you on the road.

Shout out to all of us running today.







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Sunday, 23 October 2016

In the waiting

Embrace your storm was my mantra a few weeks ago, and while in conversation with friends and family, I realised that there were more than a few affected. These were far worse than previous storms. Harder-hitting, more gut-wrenching and requiring greater courage and perseverance than before.

I wish it weren't so, but in my humble opinion, those storms haven't lifted yet. They may have subsided for a while, giving us a brief respite  - rays of sunshine streaming through the darkness, and making the world unrealistically brighter. But they've returned with an intensity that feels unbearable and we want to give up, drown in the deluge and surrender to the snow.

Not yet. Just wait.

And in the waiting, here is God.




This is the amazing thing about this thing called life that we are all called to live to the best of our ability. We don't do it alone. God didn't ever promise it would be easy. He promised he'd walk this way with us. He promised he'd never forsake us. Sometimes when it gets tough, we get angry, and we walk away from our mainstay, our rock and our anchor.

This time, let's do it differently. Let's turn to the source of unfailing love. Instead of surrendering to the pain, the hurt, the injustice, give up to the one who never let you go. In the midst of the waiting, the digging deep, he is here, waiting with us. He will never, never, never let go.



Find strength in his holding you while you cling on today. Know that God is with you. In everything.

We may fail, we may sin, we may stumble. He doesn't. He's the constant in the change, the solid in the shifting and the anchor in the storm.

This too, will pass.

Here's a song that has encouraged me this week. My prayer is that it does the same for you.


You may also enjoy...

Embrace your storm

It is well with my soul
                        Safe in the arms of Jesus

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Ten of the Best #68


Good rainy morning from Jozi. We asked for it, and now that it's here, we're grateful, but...Isn't that so typical of us?

Me, I'm walking for organ donation this morning, so hoping it'll stop for just a little tiny bit so I don't get drowned or dripped on.

You, snuggled up in bed, let's take a look at the week that was, well, again a rather dramatic one. This is the place where we recap on all the stuff on social media that we were too busy for. My favourite ten, looted and raided from your entertaining timelines. Thank you all.

We start with the end of the debates. The third and final. Trevor's take. Do I need to warn you about the language and adult content? No, you know? Good.




Michelle Obama calls Trump out. Again. Of course. Here’s a summary, and the full clip. It’s long, but it reminded me why I like this woman. So much. In the context of all Michelle is doing to help fight for equal rights and upliftment, her comments are even more powerful. Click the pic for the article.



The student protests continue. This is a thoughtful piece, and long, but worth a read.



Tom calls through the fog - and tells us we’re almost ready to do something.



In other news, Facebook urges users not to be so gullible. Well they used another adjective, but this is almost a family friendly place. That was after we all saw posts ad nauseam on our timelines telling us that they didn't give Facebook permission, blah blah. The screenshot was in response, which was funny, but if you click it, you’ll get the article about us being fairly gullible.



Coláiste Lurgan is an Irish college that has made a name for itself by translating pop classics into Gaeilge masterpieces. They took ‘Africa’ by Toto and made it even better (which wasn't hard, IMO) As they say in the classics - “I GUARANTEE this will make your day.”




Darrel Bristol-Bovey on a truly embarrassing moment. I loved this article. So well put, and a little about Mansplaining, too.



These Xavi Bou photos. Beautiful.



Poo-pouri anyone? I don't remember EVER laughing so much at a commercial. Seriously, and this product is for real. Because you can’t make this $%^& up?



We're signing out today with Anne Lamott. I love how she writes. And this Facebook post. Well, read it. It made me cry. Lovely stuff.




Want some more? Here's the link to last week.

And here're some more.

Have a wonderful weekend. The sun is out, I'm off to walk.
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Friday, 21 October 2016

#FridayBookShare - Commonwealth

07 _ 10 _ 2014 (4)
It's the Friday Book Share Game to help search for that ideal novel/author, created by Shelley Wilson.
Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the questions based on a book you enjoyed reading and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare
First line of the book.
The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin
Recruit fans by adding the book blurb.
It is 1964: Bert Cousins, the deputy District Attorney, shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited, bottle of gin in hand. As the cops of Los Angeles drink, talk and dance into the June afternoon, he notices a heart-stoppingly beautiful woman. When Bert kisses Beverly Keating, his host’s wife, the new baby pressed between them, he sets in motion the joining of two families whose shared fate will be defined on a day seven years later.

In 1988, Franny Keating, now twenty-four, has dropped out of law school and is working as a cocktail waitress in Chicago. When she meets one of her idols, the famous author Leon Posen, and tells him about her family, she unwittingly relinquishes control over their story. Franny never dreams that the consequences of this encounter will extend beyond her own life into those of her scattered siblings and parents.

Told with equal measures of humour and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a powerful and tender tale of family, betrayal and the far-reaching bonds of love and responsibility. A meditation on inspiration, interpretation and the ownership of stories, it is Ann Patchett’s most astonishing work to date.
 
Introduce the main character using only three words.
Franny is 
Delightful design


 

Audience appeal 
Everyone. This is well written and has a very wide appeal. I think men/women, young and old will enjoy it.
Your favourite line/scene.
DAs were the guys who smoked your cigarettes because they were trying to quit. They drank iced tea mixed with lemonade and smoked like stevedores.

What do you think? I loved this book. I didn't want it to end. Here's my review.

What're you reading this weekend?

Friday Books - Commonwealth

It's Friday, pouring with rain, and we're in for a weekend of reading in bed. Hooray.

Friday also means we get to link up with tother bloggers and share our favourite things - books.


BookBeginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and The Friday 56 - hosted by Freda’s Voice are where you'll find them. Both involve sharing excerpts from a current book - the beginning and - you guessed it - page 56.


My Book this week is  - Commonwealth by Ann Patchett






Isn't that a pretty cover? 

Things hot up at the christening party when Beverly, Fix's wife, attracts Albert's attention. Albert is there to escape the chaos back home of his wife and four children. Everyone fetches oranges from the endless supply in their back gardens (in California), and on the way they grab the gin/vodka from the cabinet.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Wraps - any way you like

Wraps were designed by a very creative woman, who was dog tired from chasing kids, her husband, working and having it all, all day long. She came home, poured a glass of wine and thought, "What can I fix for dinner that is already in the fridge, and uses the ingredients in my cupboard?"

Only kidding. 

But that's what happened to me last night, and it got me thinking - almost anything can go on a wrap.

We had chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado last night. Oh and of course, as my kids say - when all else fails - add cheese. There is also mince, with tomatoes, onions and peppers. Or what about roasted vegetables, with some feta or halloumi, if you have it?




That part's easy. It's the wraps that aren't always. And I don't know about you, but I almost never have them in my cupboard/freezer.

There are so many good recipes. And depending on your mood, and what's in your cupboard, it can be complex and intricate, or simple and straightforward.

Here are three to inspire you.

1. Dead easy peasy - the one I usually revert to. (Makes 4/8/16 with 1/2/3 cups of flour).



1 cup flour, half cup yoghurt. (Double or triple this, if you want lunch tomorrow/leftovers). Combine in a hand mixer, or by mixing in a bowl and leave to stand while you make a cup of tea (or another glass of wine). If you're really feeling inspired, you can add a splash of olive oil, and some herbs/spices that take your fancy - cayenne pepper if the kids have given you a hard day. 

Once you've finished your tea/wine and plotting their early bedtime, roll the dough into balls - and then flatten into rounds on a floured surface with a rolling pin/baseball bat, while planning your husband's departure from this life. 

Use a heavy bottomed pan to fry them - I do this "dry", but spray the pan, if you're worried.

Let everyone choose their own toppings and assemble their own wraps - you're done now.



2. Moderately time and ingredient-consuming. (Makes 16)


Combine 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and salt substitute/seasoning into a bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. Add 125ml olive oil and a cup of warm water while mixer is running and "knead" for a minute. Check it's coming together, and scrape the bowl, if necessary. Knead for another minute. Divide into portions (2, then 4 then 8 then 16), then roll into balls and leave for about 15 minutes - that's two cups of tea. Then fry as above.


Freeze the leftovers, after you've made your sweet darling kids their lunch for tomorrow, and packed a special treat for your husband.

3. Banting cauli-wraps. I made these day after day until I sort of got them right. I don't bother anymore. I buy them ready-made or use one of the above. I can guarantee you that yours will look nothing like the picture, mine never do.


1 cauliflower (or 500g), 6 tablespoons psyllium husks, 2 eggs, pinch salt/seasoning, Almond/coconut flour.

Cook the cauliflower and drain and squeeze out the moisture. I'm told this is the trick - get it dry. What I didn't ever try was baking the cauliflower - which I think should result in drier, but you probably still have to squeeze in paper towels. Blend using a stick blender and add eggs and psyllium husks. Blend again, and again.

Leave to stand for 15 minutes.

"Roll" into balls and then gently (swearing under your breath) roll out into flat shapes. Very gently. This is the part that, if you got all the other bits right, will come together. It never did for me. Have another glass of wine and remember to buy these next time.

Here're some more recipes.
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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett



 My first Ann Patchett novel. I'm so glad I fixed that.What a treat, a joy, an escape. From the Goodreads blurb...

"It is 1964: Bert Cousins, the deputy District Attorney, shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited, bottle of gin in hand. As the cops of Los Angeles drink, talk and dance into the June afternoon, he notices a heart-stoppingly beautiful woman. "


That's really all you need to start this book. Set in California and Virginia, from those opening lines, you are plunged into scenes with wonderfully engaging characters - lots of them - well, it is a party after all.  They dance, drink, fall in love, raise children, and so Commonwealth exists.

Bert is married to Teresa and they have four children. Franny is the younger sibling to Caroline,  Beverly and Fix Keating their parents. But all this is turned on its head at the infamous christening party. Switching effortlessly from 1964 to much later, the children, all grown up now, hold us in to the chronicle of life, which has moments of delight, hilarity - drama and heartbreak too.


So true to life, it hurts as it pleases. The only thing wrong was that it had to end. I could have done with double the time with these people who have entered into my head, my heart and become part of my family.


This will not be the last Ann Patchett book I read.


Quirky and warm, this is a great story.


ISBN: 9781408880401


You may also enjoy the Blue Ann(e)s - Blue Shoe by Ann Lamott or A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.


More reviews.
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