Gouda – a forgotten village

A mere 140km from Cape Town lies a quaint little village called Porterville.  That’s the place we’ve been calling home for the past 4 years.  During the first couple of months it was terrible. A real love-hate situation.  When you live in the city the whole idea of scaling down, living simple,  keeping chickens and a pig in your front garden and harvesting your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, seems extremely romantic.  But the reality of bad cellphone and internet reception, empty shop shelves and a total lack of entertainment in the sense of movies, restaurants and game arcades for the kids, hits you faster and harder that you would ever have dreamt.

Perhaps that’s what they call adjustment. Change.  Growing into a different person – a person who has to look at who he really is and face his dark side, his fears and angers.  A person who is allowed to be sad when he sees a hungry child on the pavement. Happy or excited about something as simple as the first gooseberry in his garden.

Change scares and radical change petrifies.

But 4 years down the line one starts to embrace the fulfilment of living honestly. Mostly honestly towards one self.  It’s not always pretty or easy, in fact! But it is always true and rewarding…

With that same mindset my lover and I often decide to fill the car with a bit of gas, charge our camera’s batteries and hit the road, jeans on our asses and walking shoes on our feet.  We drive to where the road takes us.  Sometimes it’s an hour or two’s drive, but more often it would be close by, just around the corner.  A different outlook on life, a change of scenery.  A new street cafe,  a fresh dirt road or a certain type of architecture, is all you need to experience to realise that this world is bigger that life.

So 2 days ago we found ourselves in Gouda.  Honestly a no-man’s town.  A forgotten piece of this world, only 30km from where we live.

Nothing to see except a touch of has-been politics and a bit of forgotten glory.

Huge wooden doors, locked up and probably key-less.

 

Beautiful old buildings that will never be restored to it’s former beauty.

And simple people living uncomplicated lifes.

Once again we realised why we’ve swapped the city life for rural simplicity.

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Wabi-Sabi has nothing to do with sushi…

When I first saw the term “Wabi Sabi” I thought it had something to do with my favourite food, Sushi.  Wow – now I can see exactly what that green stuff is made of, I thought… Toe Nie!

The vase is an empty vessel open to possibility, and the flower is an object of natural beauty that is on its journey between first bud to inevitable decay.

Wabi Sabi is a style.  Albeit a decor style or a lifestyle. It speaks of simplicity, naturalism and authenticity.  After reading more about it, I strongly relate to this look.  It’s fast becoming a “thing” in interiors. Yet, the very act of force, of trying to make something a “thing,” opposes the essence of Wabi-Sabi. In other words, you cannot really ‘copy’ this style.  It’s a natural progression of a certain lifestyle.

To truly understand Wabi-Sabi, one likely has to spend years studying Zen Buddhism and the social and cultural mores of the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. Wabi-Sabi has developed from two different philosophies, and can be (sort of) summed up by Richard R. Powell, who wrote in his book Wabi Sabi Simple, “It nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

What’s “Wabi”?

“Wabi” can mean loneliness or distance from society, a sense or remoteness that is grounded in the natural world. The four seasons, most especially autumn, are deeply connected to the spirit of Wabi. Unlike Western cultures, which celebrate autumn as the season of bounty and harvest in preparation for the long winter ahead, Japanese and Zen Buddhist cultures see the autumn as the unavoidable path to death, the ultimate distance or separation from all we know.  However, this is not a state to feared, but to aspire too. It is the shucking off of worldly possessions to live in an other-worldly state.

an elderly Japanese woman describes herself as an example of Sabi. She is who she has always been

What’s “Sabi”?

“Sabi,” while closely related, is focused more towards the transience of life and the inherent beauty of change. In the BBC Four Documentary “Searching for Wabi-Sabi,” an elderly Japanese woman describes herself as an example of Sabi. She is who she has always been, even as her outward appearance has changed over time. In Eastern cultures, the elderly are revered for their knowledge and wisdom and the natural aging process is seen as beautiful.  It’s the process of transformation, the celebration that nothing is permanent and perfection cannot be achieved.  “Wabi is a guiding principal of life, the stripping away of anything that is unnecessary. But it’s ultimately indefinable as words are not adequate when trying to understand the world,” says a monk in “Searching for Wabi-Sabi.”

Is Wabi-Sabi even applicable in our home designs?

With buzzwords such as “rustic simplicity,” “roughness,” “economy,” “austerity,” “modesty” and “nature” floating around it, “Wabi-Sabi” feels a little Shaker in its austerity, recessionist in its economy and environmentalist in its closeness to nature. But, these ties are inherently not accurate, or at least not deep enough. The Shakers did believe in austerity and the stripping away of anything that is unnecessary, but they did not find beauty in destruction or natural decay. There was no “chippy” paint on the Shaker’s furniture. Economy is important, but it’s not about reuse, reduce, recycle, it’s a feeling closer to emptiness and total lack of need.

It seems to me that in our Western culture, Wabi-Sabi cannot really become a design style in anything but the broadest of terms. We can embrace imperfection and the patina that comes from age and use, but we cannot force it.

Faux antiquing will never be Wabi-Sabi, nor will finding an old stick on the road and hanging light bulbs off of it to make a chandelier. Half painted walls and unfinished furniture are not rendered beautiful because they are imperfect and will never be Wabi-Sabi.

On the other hand, a beautiful handmade vase filled with a single flower may be Wabi-Sabi. The vase is an empty vessel open to possibility, and the flower is an object of natural beauty that is on its journey between first bud to inevitable decay.

Thank You Green Living for this interesting article; http://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-is-wabi-sabi.html#ixzz1XjCPh7co

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I am your person

Are you somebody’s person? Is there someone you constantly look out for, care for, inspire and support?  Someone you will stand by no matter what.  Any idea what this means to an individual?  How much confidence and  self-love this generates?

There is this one scene in Grey’s Anatomy where Meredith and Yang sits on the hospital floor – long dramatic story short; Yang says to Meredith “I am your person”.  Never in my life I have heard such a powerful statement.  I sob every time I look at this extract – and that’s rather often as I am a sucker for over the board stuff!   Meredith’s face lightens up as she realises that she is not alone.  Everything suddenly seems more in perspective.

When last did you reassure someone that he or she is not alone?  Choose someone to care for.  Somebody whose person you can be.  Remember, all these beautiful words ie. love, care, etc, are verbs.  Live these emotions.  Make them tangible.  You will add so much value to another special Godly being on this earth.  And after all, that is why we are here; To Serve!

be creative - no one is looking!

I am fortunate enough to be someone’s muse.  I have a person.  This makes me feel richer and stronger than any money, jewels or fame can ever buy.  Because I have ‘a person’, I can be the person I was born to be.  I know I am good enough.

Do not wash your hands too often...

Because I am a muse I can create magic.  I can draw pretty pictures, I can shape clay into perfect or not so perfect vases and bowls.  I can plant and bake and be a beautiful mother to my ever so perfect kids. ‘Cause I am somebody’s person.

paint and paint some more...

I can dance in my lounge to sixties music, wearing scruffy jeans and a 5year old Mr. Price t-shirt and still feel O so very sexy! ‘Cause I am somebody’s person.

I can neglect the house and not sweep for days but still feel like the most precious princess, ’cause I am somebody’s person.

Go on, Tell someone that you are His/Her Person.  That she/he is your Muse.  Magical things will follow.  Everybody wants to be somebody and you have the power to make this happen!  (Hell now I sound like D. Phill!!)

I expect replies on this post of mine!!!

Love you all, Really!

xxx

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Fairytale met ‘n Twist…

Skuus vir die elle lange stilte, maar ek moes  in diepte navorsing doen vir my volgende paar briewe.  Hoop julle geniet die stukkie net soveel soos ek!  After all – it is based on a true story!

 


Eendag lank, lank gelede, in die vroegere 1930’s,  was daar ‘n vlieende ginekoloog-internis.

Die ginekoloog-internis het gewoon en gewerk in die grote Namibie, toe bekend as Suidwes-Afrika.  Behalwe dat die dokter – let’s call him dr. Shreuder, van plaas tot plaas gevlieg het met sy 2-man ligte passasiers vliegtuigie en babas in die lewe gebring het, het hy uit die aard van die saak ook septiese, ontploffende blindederms verwyder, longe aan long- hartmasjiene gekoppel, gewasse verwyder en beswyktes as beswyk verklaar.

Operasies is natuurlik, as gevolg van vanselfsprekende omstandighede, in die plaaswoning se kombuis, bo-op die kombuistafel uitgeoefen.  Dr. Shreuder was gevolglik ‘n man met vele aansien. ‘n Respektabele man, bekend vir sy wysheid en statigheid. Die vlieende dokter Shreuder.

Behalwe dat dokter Shreuder dokter geheet en sy amp met welslae vervul het, was hy ook ‘n trotse voorstander van Duitse Nasionalisme. Sonder dat ek vreeslik hoef te verduidelik, kan jul sekerlik verstaan dat hierdie houding hom nie baie ver gebring het met die 2de Wereld Oorlog wat in die tyd die strate, dorpe en harte van Nabibiers gevul het nie.  Dr. Shreuder was ‘n man vol selfvertroue, gevul met mening en opinie en het sy hart trots en pennetjie-regop op sy mou gedra! Dokter Shreuder die aktivis.  Dokter Shreuder die slim man. Dokter Shreuder;  Duitse bond-genoot, Duitse wysheer en geneesheer. Vlieende redder van lewens en bewaarder van herkoms.

Why am I sharing Mr Shreuder’s story with you?

Wel sien, DieUwe het ‘n Vorste eggenote agter hom gehad.  Die ene Fransisca Paulina.  ‘n Pragtige gedekte tafel, kompleet met blomme,  tafeldoek en silwer eetgerei was aan die orde van die dag.  Allermins die geringste wat Mev-Dr. Shreuder vir haar lieflike familie kon doen.

Hiermee dus ‘n tipiese Dinsdagaand ete aan woning van die Shreuders.  Vroeg in September…

Mev Fransisca Paulina Shreuder se Dinsdag Spread...

  • Een Tuisgebakte brood – kniewerk gedoen deur Truida. Voorgesit met ongesoute Botter.
  • Bruinrys met gebraaide uie, sampioene, knoffel en preie.  Let asb. op die kappertjies wat as garnering gebruik word.
  • Butternut – crispy gebak in die oond.
  • Wortel, aartappel en uie gereg, afgerond met ‘n lepel egte botter en sout.
  • En Natuurlik……  ‘n Heel hoender met aartappels – brosgebraai en liggies gegeur.

Lees binnekort meer oor Dr. Shreuder se doen en late…

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Chocolate Surprise Pudding

It’s Friday evening, just before 8 ‘o clock.  My husband’s boys are visiting us for a couple of days.  All 8 of us, ie. his 2, my 3 and the two of us plus a friend of my daughter’s, have been sitting around the dining room table for the past 2 hours.  Sybe (my husband) shared stories from his youth.  He told the kids how his best friend of 15 years had kissed his girlfriend on his 21st birthday party.  How he shot a hole through another friends cheek  with a pellet gun.  The stories went on and on and the kids couldn’t get enough.

I kept dinner simple, tasty and fresh.  We had pork bangers with loads of salad on rolls and to finish it off  I made a delicious warm chocolate pudding from a little square  book  I found in one of our local shops this afternoon.  The book is called Divine Chocolate..  It won’t be fair if I don’t thank Daniel at this stage for all his help.  I could not have done it without him!

I chose the simplest looking, easiest sounding recipe in the book;  “Chocolate Surprise Pudding”.  And guess what?  I will be making it again tomorrow!

Chocolate Surprise

You Need (4 servings):

  • 100g unsalted butter

  • 100g plain chocolate (or more if you like!)

  • 50g plain flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 eggs

  • 50g castor sugar

  • I did double these quantities… why not!  More is More!

What you do:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

  • Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot, not boiling water.  Stir occasionally.

  • Crease a medium sized oven dish.

  • Whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour for 2 min with an electric whisk until pale and creamy.  This is where Daniel comes in as I do not mix electrically, but by hand.

  • Whisk in chocolate mixture.

  • Pour into the oven dish.

  • Bake for approximately 30 min until the pudding is brown.

  • Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, mixed berries or fresh cream.

  • Remember to ask for seconds!

At this stage all the kids are running around in he house, playing fighting games so,  perhaps it’s a better idea to serve this pudding earlier in the day!

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Little eyes in my garden.

Groot Goudgeel Kannas voor die kombuisvenster is haar troos, elke keer as sy haar kop moedeloos van die vuil skottelgoedwater oplig.  Regs van haar wasbak is haar jare lange getroue Kelvinator spiraalplaat stoof.  As hy nie vuil is van oorgekookte bredies of sop of pap nie, is minstens 3 van die 4 plate bloedrooi warm, besig om die volgende lot kos vir die tafel voor te berei.

Deur die half toegestoomde venster sien Alet hoe groot reendruppels hulself op die groen blare van die kannabos tuisgemaak het,  en tussen die geprut van wors en mash deur val die reen reelmatig op die sinkdak van haar cosy kombuis.  Die rooi geruite vadoek skree desperaat vir ‘n jik-soak, en die spesery botteljies kan doen met ‘n deeglike was.

Twee olieverf skilderye hang ietwat skeef onder mekaar, geraam in oneweredige verweerde hout, lekker breed en bold.  Die boonste skildery; ‘n rooi rissie, deurgesny sodat die gedetailleerde kwashale wat die pitjies en vleis van die rissie vorm ‘n perfekte prentjie maak.  Die onderste een; ‘n groen rissie, heel en bonkig. Redelik rond ge-interpreteer.

Alet trek die prop uit die sink nadat sy die laaste vuil bord skoongewas en in louwarm water afgespoel het.  Met haar hande nog nat sit sy haar elmboe op die rand van die wasbak, leun vorentoe en stoot haar boude gemaklik agteruit. Sy rus haar gesig in albei haar handpalms.  Na minute van staar, hoor sy haar eie stem wat met die geel kanna voor haar praat;  “Wat wil jy graag wees as jy eendag groot is, liewe Kanna?”  mompel sy deur haar lippe wat skeef gedruk word soos sy op haar hande le.

“‘n Rooi roos in ‘n adelike tuin of ‘n soet wit rankjasmyn? Of nee, ek weet,” roep sy opgewonde en spring orent, “jy sou seker ‘n  groot sonneblom wou wees. Met jou gesig heeldag na die son gedraai, altyd ‘n groot glimlag om jou mondhoeke.  Of dalk een van die sonneblomme in Vincent se skildery!  Dan kan jy in honderde boeke verskyn en elke jaar duisende bewonderaars he wat jou van alle kante besigtig daar waar jy teen die muur van die gallery in Trafalgar Square hang.

Bietjie verder, net agter die Kannas, sien sy skielik hoe iets haar dophou vanuit die donker skaduwee onder die kiepersolboom.  Sy sien hoe die ‘iets’ sy ogies oop en toe knip en sy neusie wiekel soos die reendruppels wat oor sy gesiggie loop hom kielie.

Op haar tone loop Alet suutjies na die agterdeur.  Draai die deurknop so saggies moontlik sodat die ‘ogies’ in haar tuin niks hoor soos sy die deur oopstoot nie.  Sy bekruip die kiepersolboom van agter.  Daar sit hy, totaal onbewus van haar. Hy rek sy nekkie om by haar kombuis venster te kan inloer – soekend na waarheen sy verdwyn het.  Alet is net ‘n tree agter hom, en voor hy dit weet vang sy hom met haar tannie-hande; kleine ou dingetjie, sopnat gereen.  Sy hol terug die huis in en druk haar vangs vinnig in ‘n koekblik.  ‘n Oomblik lank wonder sy verward;  Wat nou!?

Sy sit die blik in die middel van haar kombuistafel, tree eers agteruit en gaan sit dan op die stoel langs die tafel.

Wat nou…?

Alet hardloop voordeur toe, maak seker dis gesluit. Sy gaan haal die telefoon van die mikkie af en sit haar selfoon op silent.  Trek gou die sitkamer en kombuisgordyne toe, net ingeval…

Wat Op Aarde Nou… !?

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Warm Scones on a rainy day.

I could never bake.  My cakes wouldn’t rise.  My muffins would be raw on the inside and burnt at the bottom.  I even managed to mess up an egg – as the yellow is guaranteed to break when I turn the egg over in the pan.

scones

I found it so much more efficient to pop into Woolies to see what looked appetising enough to take home with me.  Why go through the drama of baking if you can dress up, get into your car and return home with a variety of cup cakes, chocolate cakes, carrot cake, muffins and scones.  No dishes, no fumes and no burnt cakes.

Well, things have changed drastically in the past couple of years.  It must be something that comes with age, as I can honestly say that now there is few things that gives me the satisfaction I  get when I bake something from scratch and it turns out to be edible.

This scone recipe is the first one I baked successfully and without any hassle.

Ingredients:

2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp margarine
3/4 cup milk

Method:

  • Mix the dry ingredients together.

  • Add the margarine and milk.

  • Knead the dough gently until smooth (don’t knead dough too much or scones will be tough).

  • Form flat round balls.

  • Place scones onto prepared baking tray and sprinkle tops with a little plain flour.

  • Bake at 240°C for +/- 7 minutes (until golden brown).

  • Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm with jam, cream and cheese.

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