Metamorphosis

How do you respond to changing seasons? We are experiencing change in many seasons right now; the weather in SA  is shifting from summer to autumn, our family is preparing to return to life in Canada and our children are changing and growing in so many ways. I have to admit, I’m not always good at change. I love going new places, meeting new people and having new experiences… within a controlled, predictable and generally reliable context. For example going on a holiday to the beach, staying in a nice hotel and eating great food is always a fun change. However, I know I will come back to my known life at the end of the holiday. As we begin our transition out of SA back to CA, I am faced with the great  unknown again. I have to say good-bye to the wonderful friends we’ve made, the beautiful country and the warm sunny climate. I am excited to return to family and friends but also nervous about re-entry into our life there. The kid’s friends will have new social dynamics, my friends will have their own routines and we will be coming back to rainy days and a big house to clean. First world problems entirely, but this blog is where I share our joys and struggles and we are at a bittersweet time right now caught between changing worlds.

We are always ready to go out and enjoy the local fauna and flora. This is a local Cheetah breeding project. We went on a tour of the Cheetah enclosures and listened to the tour guide tell us about Cheetah breeding habits and what factors most seem to determine their survival and ability to thrive in the wild.IMG_0300 The beautiful King Cheetah is a  rare recessive genetic colour pattern. We found out that the reason they are so rare is twofold; first of all they only occur when a mating pair each carry the recessive gene, and secondly this pattern does not actually camouflage as well with the landscape so consequently they are usually unable to hunt as well or are more easily spotted by other predators such as hyaenas.IMG_0292To compare the two here is a typical cheetah colour pattern.IMG_0305D has been taking tennis lessons much to his delight.IMG_0278He loves the activity and even more, loves his friends K and C who are in the same class.IMG_0282 We made our monthly rounds of the zoo for E’s honey badgers program. It was a cold rainy day this week so we spent a bit of time hiding under the umbrellas at the cafe…IMG_0359 …with hot chocolate of course!IMG_0332Despite the rain the animals were out and about and we had some great viewing of animals we don’t always see on sunny days.IMG_0382E’s s group stayed mostly indoors learning about bats and doing more paper-based tasks.IMG_0391E practised her reading aloud with some story time for the younger kids.IMG_0412Our beautiful sweet potato vine is finally living outdoors in a pot.IMG_0442This is the jungle gym  at our house and in all this rain we have to get out and play whenever the sun comes out for a few minutes.IMG_0452

We have been so blessed in our time here in SA. We’ve connected with a vibrant and diverse homeschooling community with many social learning opportunities as well as just making great friends. We did an art co-op with another family this week.IMG_0518 Who doesn’t love to play with finger paint??IMG_0525 IMG_0529 Tying into our pioneer/voortrekker theme we have been working on an multidicipinary project; a paper quilt using symmetry, geometry colour, pattern and line. I explained to the children that pioneers were very frugal and because they couldn’t always buy new things they learned to make most items for themselves. They used small scraps of fabric to make quilts out of whatever they had. The use of pattern was a way to beautify their simple, rustic homes and express their own creativity. It also gave them an activity to fill their time during long evenings or days indoors during winter. IMG_0533 We went to our last homeschool skating time 😦 IMG_0543 One of the highlights at skating is hot chips with lots of tomato sauce or as we would say in Canada; fries smothered in ketchup!IMG_0547 Ending our week we had a joint dinner with two families who have been dear friends to us here. Between our families we represent, British SA, Afrikaans SA, Italy, England and of course Canada.IMG_0557 The 3 musketeers!IMG_0578 And what dinner party would be complete without Kareoke? C rocked out the Afrikaans alt/country beat!IMG_0592 Sweet A singing a beautiful rendition of Norah JonesIMG_0614 Me pretending to a be an 80s rock star with Summer of 69, LOL!IMG_0615A mother-daughter moment with Abba!IMG_0621 These times together have been rich. full of laughter, heart sharing, growing and simply sharing our lives together. This morning we slept in after the late night last night and I watched E and her dad cuddle at the breakfast table  with a full heart. This life I have is so good! How can I measure the value of these days? The answer is that I simply can’t, these moments are priceless. Today is Sunday and I am counting the 1000+ gifts in my life and feeling profoundly grateful. IMG_0639Change will happen and we will adjust and choose gratitude wherever we find ourselves.

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South African Favourites:

I realized I hadn’t updated this section of the blog in awhile and sticking to our international theme and time in SA, I thought I’d add some our favourite recipes from this part of the world.

Milk Tart (serves 8)

This was our first introduction into South African dessert and it is such a nice end to any meal in any weather.

Ingredients(8-10)

  • 1 packet  tennis biscuits or  graham crackers
  • 1 litre full-cream milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250 ml  white sugar
  • 50 ml corn flour
  • 25 ml  cake flour
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling over

Method:

1. Microwave the milk and vanilla seeds together in a large heat-proof bowl for 3-4 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, crumble the biscuits into thumb-nail size pieces and use to generously cover the base and sides of a 23cm diameter shallow tart plate.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar thoroughly together. Add both flours. Add this mixture into the hot milk, return it to the microwave and cook for 10 minutes, whisking regularly to ensure a smooth thick sauce.

4. Pour the sauce gently and evenly over the biscuits to fill the tart plate.

5. Set aside to cool down to room temperature, sprinkle generously with ground cinnamon and refrigerate until firm enough to slice into wedges.

Hints and Tips

  • Slit the vanilla pod down its length, and with the knife tip, scrape out the seeds which resemble gritty black paste. Store the empty pod with your sugar to impart a vanilla flavour.
  • This tart keeps well covered in the fridge for up to 5 days

 Malva Pudding

Ingredients:

30ml (2T) Butter/Marg
125ml (1/2 C) White Sugar
1 Extra Large Egg
15ml (1T) Apricot Jam
5 ml (1t) baking soda
125ml (½C) Milk
250ml (1C) Cake Flour
Pinch of Salt
15ml (1T) Vinegar
Sauce 
125g Butter/Marg
185 ml (¾C) White Sugar
65ml (¼C) Water
185 ml (¾C) Cream
5ml (1t) Vanilla

Method:

Pudding

  1. Cream butter and sugar together, beat in the egg until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the apricot jam.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk.
  4. Sift the flour and salt together and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.
  5. Lastly stir in the vinegar.
  6. Pour into a deep round dish about 19cm diameter. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and then bake for 1 hour at 180°C.

Sauce

  1. Bring the butter, sugar and water to the boil and simmer, stirring all the time for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from the stove and then add the cream and the vanilla. Pour over the hot baked pudding.