Walking Update 13: Back to the Treadmill

Almost exactly one year ago on the 8th August 2012 I started a walking for exercise project  and called it Walking Wednesdays http://wp.me/p2BDQm-4S  2012/08/08.

In the meantime, life happened and I was forced to abandon the walking due to a foot problem. Now 6 months after my foot operation, I am able to resume my walking programme.

In my previous series of walking posts I explored the beautiful Eastern cape region from East London to Coffee Bay.

As it is August and time for the arid areas of the Cape West Coast and the semi desert of Namaqualand to be transformed into a floral wonderland, I chose this area for my next destination. These wild flowers are one of the natural wonders of the world and attract many tourists, artists and photographers from around the world each year.

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The flowers usually start flowering in late July or early August. The sun shines from the north in spring and as the flowers only open when the sun is shining, they usually face north. Therefore, it is best to approach the flowers from the north, starting at the small town of Springbok and the Goegap Nature Reserve.

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The flower season is dependent on the winter rains, the wind and other weather factors, and the displays vary from place to place each season.The towns along the route are small and one can usually get good information on the best places to view the flowers from the friendly locals.

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So I invite you to join me each Wednesday as I report on another town along this route from Springbok in the north to Clan William in the south .

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Slightly Obsessed With Succulents

Ugly, spiky, thorny plants stuck between bare rocks in the rockery where nothing else would grow. This might be the picture that many of us have of succulents.

Recently however, there has been a renewed interest in these interesting and adaptable plants. They are being used in many gardens in new and striking ways, becoming a focus point in our gardens and serving the dual purpose of saving water in a country where water shortages are looming more and more on the horizon.

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Succulents are plants that have adapted to arid climates by developing tissues that store water. Different succulents may accumulate moisture in their leaves, stems, roots, or a combination of the three. Succulents comprise hundreds of plant genera, including many plants we recognize by their common names.

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Aloes are indigenous to South Africa and there are a myriad of species available. Although these plants thrive on little water they do need some water and will flower abundantly if circumstances are favourable. The flowers vary from bight red to orange and yellow.

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Succulents grow well in pots and make a beautiful statement or feature in the garden or on a table on the veranda.

S 4The photos above comprise only a very few of the variety of succulents available. They provide a huge amount of  options in colour, form, texture, foliage and size. Add to these features the bonus of striking flowers and I wonder what is not to love about these plants?

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So let us take our environment into account and plant plants that are water friendly in our country with its growing tendency to droughts and resulting water shortages.

From Tree to Table 2: Pecan Nut Pie

Taste this pecan nut pie and no other will be good enough again!

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I few weeks ago I wrote about the pecan nuts in our garden which were at that stage beginning to ripen. Now at last they are ripe and fell from the trees,  which in our home means time for a pecan nut pie.

I have tried many recipes over the years and this one is a firm favourite with everyone.So join me as I make yet another pecan nut pie.

Ingredients:

 For the pastry:
1 cup (250 ml)cake flour
a pinch of salt
100 g cold butter
2 t (10 ml) caster sugar
1 egg
4 t (20 ml) ice-cold wter
1 t (5 ml) lemon juice
a little fresh lemon zest (optional)

For the filling:
130 g pecan nuts
about 60 g butter, melted
200 ml (just under a cup) brown sugar (treacle sugar if you’re feeling particularly decadent)
2 egg yolks beaten
100 ml golden syrup
5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla essence

Method :

Sift the flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour, then rub it in with cold fingertips until it resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, water, lemon juice and zest. Add to the flour and butter and mix quickly and lightly into a dough (the less you handle it, the better). Wrap in clingwrap and put in the fridge for about 30 mins.Take it out, roll it quickly and lightly into a circle, and use it to line a pie dish.

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Arrange the pecans  in the pastry case in  a single layer.

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Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan on the stove. Ad the beaten egg yolks slowly and let simmer for about five minutes while stirring continuously. Add the vanilla essence.

Pour the warm syrup mixture carefully over the nuts (they will float to the top).

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Bake at 180 C for about 40 minutes. When you take the pie out the oven, it will still look runny – leave it for about 20 minutes to set

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Serve with vanilla ice cream and coffee.

Unopened Gifts Contain Hope

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“I don’t know what’s in the box, but I love it. Unopened gifts contain hope.
”
Jarod Kintz, This Book Title is Invincible.

Receiving a gift is receiving hope. If the gift is beautifully wrapped,  it heightens the expectation and the hope, while opening it.

This is the reason why I love wrapping a gift in creative and unexpected ways.

Here is one way of wrapping a gift in reusable fabric.

You will need:

Lengths of  soft fabric in colours you like, the size depends on the size of the gift.

Ribbon to match.

A gift to wrap.

Here is how to do it.

A Gift to wrap

A Gift to wrap

Cut the fabric you want to use to the appropriate size

Cut the fabric you want to use to the appropriate size

Gather fabric loosely together

Gather fabric loosely together keeping the gift inside 

Use a rubber band to faaten the loose ends, leaving parts untied

Use a rubber band to fasten the loose ends, leaving parts untied

Fasten  the loose ends with a ribbon, arranging the fabric  to a desired effect

Fasten the loose ends with a ribbon, arranging the fabric to a desired effect

Although the gift contains merely a chocolate, the wrapping makes it special, sending a message of care and love.

From Tree to Table: 1

Autumn in Pretoria.

The trees are changing colour, leaves are beginning to fall, the sky is an incredible blue and the days are sunny and mild.

Yes autumn is my favourite season  of the year, not because I look forward to the coming winter, but because of the beauty and mildness of the autumn days.

To top this it is also the time of the year when the nuts on the pecan nut trees on our property  are ripening and time for pecan nut pie.

This weekend I will make a pecan nut pie for Sunday afternoon coffee, but first I will enjoy the beauty of the trees bearing their bounty.

Keep reading this space as I will post my special pecan nut pie recipe after the weekend.

Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy too.

 

Walking Update 12: Still In The Armchair

Fish Eagle in the Hluleka Reserve

Fish Eagle in the Hluleka Reserve

Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape. That is where I last reported walking.

In the meantime life happened and I am still in the armchair, recuperating from a foot operation.

This did not prevent me from doing research and deciding where my next destination will be. I found these wonderful pictures which again inspired me and whet my appetite to visit this beautiful part of our country soon.

The Hluleka Reserve is situated about 20km from Port St Johns on the East Coast of South Africa.  It consists of a diverse range of eco systems, ranging from rocky seashores, golden beaches, lagoons and lush forests of quinine, coral, stink ebony and Natal fig trees . The main attraction of the reserve to nature lovers, is the abundance of birdlife which can be seen in the reserve.

There are seven seven double-storey wooden chalets each with a loft room that offers from-your- bed views of the Indian Ocean, a fully equipped kitchen and a lounge leading onto a long balcony overlooking the  rocky coastline, rolling hills, thick bush and changing tides.

Chalet in Hluleka Reserve

Chalet in Hluleka Reserve

Information and photo from :Hluleka  http: //blog.getaway.co.za/travel-ideas/places-to-stay/hluleka-nature-reserve-chalets-eastern-cape/

I trust that in a few weeks time I can resume my walking programme , but in the meantime I can enjoy the wonders of our country by letting my fingers do the walking on the internet.

Something Found, Something Round, Something New.

Scarf or accessory organizer DIY

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The two Cocos Palm trees growing in our garden next to the swimming pool are definitely my husband’s pet hate. First the small greenish flowers clog the swimming pool weir, then the seeds follow and eventually the big dry seedpods fall from the tree. I found one of the seed pods before he could throw it away and with his assistance this is what it became.

Something found, from the palm tree

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Something round, bought in a shop in Clarens

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How it happened.

  • Clean the seedpod and  let it dry well in the sun.
  • Test the strength of the seedpod by drilling an experimental hole in the corner.
  • Measure the length of the seedpod and determine the position of the doorknobs

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  • Cut or saw the seedpod to the desired length.

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  • Drill four holes, big enough to fasten the doorknobs equal distances from one another.

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  • Fasten the doorknobs leaving enough of the screw to ensure there is hanging space between the knob and the pod surface.

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  • Attach to the wall and add scarves or accessories .

The end product: Something new.

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