Salty, Fizzy & Sweet.

Somewhere in my interweb travels, I came across this southern ( as in American South ) treat.

Salted peanuts in Coke.

As a lover of many combinations the masses find strange, I was all over that!

The idea is to take a few swigs of your Coke, pour in your sleeve of salted peanuts and “Bottoms Up!”

Purists say it must be in a glass bottle to get the full experience. The only glass bottles of Coke I could find were diet and I’m morally opposed to diet anything, so my Coke was in a plastic bottle.

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My verdict? It was really good! Not weird or strange at all! Whoever invented this was fucking brilliant. The salty peanuts and their rich creaminess really cut through the sugar of the pop and complimented that signature caramel essence. The fizzy burn came through for a satisfying ending. I’m a total fan.

It was really filling. This would make for a meal. In fact, I think part of the lore is that farmer’s would eat this (drink this) “on the go” for lunch during their busy days.

Have you ever tried this combo? What did you think?  Do you have another combo that others find strange? Tell me all about it! I’m always looking for interesting new things!

 

 

Monster Baby Lessons.

This wee Monster Baby woke me up at 6am Sunday morning.

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But how could I resist such a sweet boy? I just don’t think its possible.

Besides, fuck that! I spent years as a Mum, resisting my children’s charms because I was so concerned with doing it “right”, with making sure I had positive power, authority and influence over them. Ignoring the truth that I knew damn well that I have no natural authority, ha. And I was faking my confidence and knowledge the whole time. It was all smoke and mirrors, Baby! I spent the whole time my kids were under my care being terrified of making a mistake and living in fear that I and I alone could mess them up so badly if I did. So fuck ALLLL of that 🙂

I found out, the hard way, that you can do all the right things and your kids will still mess up. You can do all the wrong things and they won’t. Life is funny like that.

Being a grandparent is a pretty sweet gig. None of that parenting nonsense.

Now, because I know different, I do things with my heart. It seems to be working out better for all.

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Best of October.

Hello November!

October was a challenging month for me. It was the two-year anniversary of a trauma that re injured my brain AND it was the first whole month in which I was not in Tanzania. Waaa! I had some readjusting to do, under stressful circumstances. BUT it wasn’t horrible. I’m here, alive and kicking in November. I learned some things and made it through. My goal for next October is to thrive rather than survive. But you know that’s my goal every month!

ANYway, I got thinking about it all and the good things that happened and really wanted to showcase that. Do a roundup exercise of all the awesome. Because our brains are wired for the negative, no problem there, ha ha but the positive…that’s a thing that needs cultivating. And that’s a thing that’s really, truly worthy of my attention 🙂

The Best Savoury Thing I Ate In October:

Tanzanian Pepper Beef Stew. I invented it based on my memory of a meal I ate whilst in Tanzania. I’m fine tuning it for my recipe book and will share it eventually, but if you want to make something similar, it’s basically beef and peppers with lots of black pepper and onion. At first bite, I was proud. So proud!

The Best Sweet Thing I Ate In October:

A banana crepe with Nutella at Cora, with two dear friends on a sunny Autumn morning.

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I’m not usually a sweets person but there was something about this warm, chocolate fruity glop of deliciousness that really hit the spot. A rare but welcome thing.

The Best Hot Drink I Drank In October: My last attempt at recreating spiced tea. It was almost perfect. Perfect spice, perfect sweet… I just need to tweak the milk – I’m going to try shelf stable milk – and see if that does the trick – but drinking it whilst reading a book in the warm sunlight, knowing I was so close was dreamy. At this point if the milk doesn’t make it so, it’ll be alright because it’s a damn fine cup of tea anyway.

The Best Outing I Had In October: This is a toss-up between two. The first one was a walk in the river valley with two friends. The sun was shining, there was a chill in the air, the leaves were crunchy and we were surrounded by birds and squirrels doing important animal things. I found the BEST sticks to add to my collection and there were lost of laughs and insightful realizations and just good fun.

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The second one was a surprise motorcycle ride with my man. He came home early on a sunny afternoon and asked me out. We didn’t go anywhere special, just out and back through an area close to the city but it was fun to be zooming along in the sunny air. There was a slight chill as we sped through traffic, turning into curves with total acceptance of whatever was to be. You can’t resist the turns on a bike, even as a passenger so I really had to surrender to them. Would we crash or remain upright and keep going? Only one way to find out. That was fucking scary and liberating at the same time.

Best Social Interactions In October: My fun and chatty conversation with a lady at the transit station who gave me doughnuts. I’ll detail it fully in another post but here I can tell you that it was really nice to have an honest, kind conversation with another human being, especially as we seemed to just click in seconds. People think it’s all weirdos on transit but that’s not true. I’ve met a lot of lovely humans as well.

Going to a new book club at my local library. Everyone was open and friendly, welcoming and engaging. Their words and their actions matched and it was just a really nice night.

Smartest Thing I Did In October: Get our wills made up! The sense of relief I feel is … well, relieving. I feel just a titch more grown up 🙂 One less thing to feel anxious about.

Coolest Thing I Bought: A Namaste Skeleton!

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The dead and dying in me see the dead and dying in you. Its perfect! I buy a lot of my regular home décor during Halloween sales. Ha Ha.

Best Shows I Watched: So yes I’m totally late to this but OH EM GEE …

OUTLANDER. 

I’d tried to watch it once before with the Hubs but just couldn’t get into it. I think watching it was my man was the problem because I had no issues revisiting it on my laptop with my headphones in! I’d read the books years ago and really enjoyed them. I’m happy the series is holding my attention the same way.

Salt Fat Acid Heat 

Is another one I’m liking. It’s on Netflix and its a fancy little cooking show -kind of, sorta – about how if one masters these four elements, Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat, one can transform their meals. I really like the host Samin Nosrat and the whole thing is just really interesting. If you’re passionate about food and people and places, this is a show for you.

What were some of your highlights in October? I’d love to hear all about them!

Love and squishy hugs!

Ngorongoro Crater

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast after our visit with the Maasai before hitting the road to our next destination, the Ngorongoro Crater.

We ate lunch at the top, took some photos, watched the Instagram girls with their boyfriends and their posing and had ourselves a chuckle, then it was down,down,down into the crater.

My favourite memory of this day – and a lot of others – was standing up in the Land Cruiser with the hot sun blazing down on me as we raced through the wind down bumpy, dusty roads. The air felt different. I felt different. So relaxed and aware of everything. Absolutely brimming with life and attention. Both myself and my surroundings. Nothing but magic.

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We saw a rhino for afar. Well afar. Even our best camera was unable to get a photo but we were so excited! A rhino! The rarest of the rare! Even Grace was excited. She squealed and laughed right along with us. We had to squint through the binoculars to make out its shape but saw it we did. A real life Unicorn, I don’t care what anyone says. And then – this seriously happened!- we saw its mate! Across the road and a few miles up! Two! Two Rhinos/Unicorns! That really got our Grace going. She has such keen eyesight to spot anything in the tall grass, never mind a rhino. She quickly made a U-turn and drove up as close as she could along the road so we could get our look. It was still so far away rightfully wary and elusive. We took turns with binoculars and even managed to get photos!

My photo:

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Ha Ha.

And Monica’s photo:

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A much better shot!

Seeing a rhino at all, in the first place is the rarest gift. Being close enough to photograph one is like that, times a million. We were in awe and then immediately sobered because we all knew the reason for the rarity of this moment. There are thought to be only 11-15 black rhinos in the crater and between 5,042 and 5,458 of them in the world, due to poaching.

It was quickly closing up on 6pm so we had to skedaddle out of the crater. Tonight’s lodgings were at Sopa Lodge, a beautiful resort on the edge of the crater.

We all freshened up and then met up for a buffet dinner in the gigantic dining room. It was pretty good, something for everyone but the star of the show was their Chocolate Torte with Salted Caramel. Twas SO good, we suggested Kate go back up and bring us back whatever was left on the plate. She did, ha! After making sure there was another one for the rest of the guests. ( We’re not complete assholes 😉 ) I’ve been working hard at recreating it for home and need to make some tweaks but in the meantime it’s just, chocolate ganache in a graham crust, with a salted caramel glaze atop. It sounds so ordinary but there was just something about it…

After dinner we needed to be escorted back to our rooms by staff. Why? Well sometimes the buffalo like to come up to the rim and chase guests around. Ha. And in the warmer months, staff often find them splashing around in the pool 🙂 Veronica and I didn’t see one our walk back but Kate, Monica and Janet did. So cool!

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We drifted off to sleep excited for our next adventure, hiking, with an armed escort!

October Book Brag *7

I read seven books this month. That is pretty sad…didn’t I read more the month I went away? Let me check…Oh EM GEE, yes! I read 8 books last month. I’m a slacker!

ANYway, here is my round-up for the month of October.

 

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby is about an interesting girl with an interesting dream. Only what happens in the book was pretty damn ordinary in the end. Not horrible. A quick read.

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew is a memoir. It was honest and kind of long-winded. As someone who’s long winded herself, I can relate. Not horrible. I was hoping for something fabulous and profound because I respect and admire this chap’s work in our country. Once again, my expectations failed me 🙂

The Elephant In The Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson. This is a book about our hidden motives in everyday life. Basically, your brain is a selfish jerk BUT your brain doesn’t want you to KNOW its a selfish jerk and it especially doesn’t want other people to know! It’s all ok though because ALL human brains can be selfish jerks. Absolutely fascinating. Intelligent and interesting. Not at all dry and written in such a way that the science behind all of this is easy to understand. Highly recommend!

People Tend To Tell Me Thing by Amy Dickinson. Amy writes an advice column and this book is not really about that BUT it’s still a really good book because Amy is an interesting and intelligent person. She’s clever and unique and really honest about herself- She must have read The Elephant In The Brain!- and it all makes for a great read. I felt a kinship with her, as a messy human. Highly recommend!

 

Little Green by Tish Cohen was engaging. Its a story about two people, a marriage and what happens in that marriage when something goes really wrong. A quick read. I had strong emotional responses, good and bad to both main characters but the ending pissed me right off. Read it. Its not a waste of time.

Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart was slow for me at first but then once I settled into it, I found myself quite liking it. Its part of a series of books based on a set of real life sisters, who lived unusual-for the times- lives. I grew to like most of the characters and was irritated by others. I love it when a book makes me feel something, so this one is a win for me.

The Marriage Of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. I think I may be growing out of this author. This is the second book I’ve read of hers that has disappointed me. In fact this one made me openly scoff. It was a long, complicated, fussy story about a family, told in two parts. The first part is mostly about the mother as a young woman and the second is about her son. In between all sorts of other things are woven with people acting like assholes and hypocrites throughout. Maybe it was my mood but this book is a definite nah for me.

Okie dokie! My goal for November is to read ten books. I don’t think this is going to be a problem because you see, I have a real problem! I added waay too many books to my holds list at the library and they’ve all come in at once. Ooops! Wish me luck.

 

Blueberry Muffins w/ Soph and Grammy.

We had our girl over the other weekend. This kid is getting huge! Yet she is but a wee four year old. How can that all be ? 🙂

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Growth mystery aside, we had fun with her. We went and saw a movie- Smallfoot.- where that kid ate her weight in popcorn, I swear. We hung around the house and played with some toys – Grammy and Grumpus ate A LOT of plasticine food on tiny Ikea plates.- We even made real food! Blueberry muffins, using my mother in law’s recipe.

 

We had some silly fun and ended up with a delicious treat. (I may or may not have added in some white chocolate chips )

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Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

  1.  2.5 cups flour
  2. 2.5 tsp baking powder
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup buttermilk
  5. 2 large eggs, well beaten
  6. 1/2 cup butter, melted
  7. 1.5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen. Whatevs.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well and add buttermilk,eggs and melted butter. Mix well, and fold in blueberries. Will well greased tins with batter and bake at 400 F for 20-25 min. Enjoy.

Sophia said the muffins tasted like ” rotten garbage” Ha Ha Ha! Little shit. They did not, I assure you. I think maybe they just weren’t cupcakes which is what she really wanted to make.

I learned a thing or two from this experience and as I am a child care professional – no really!- here are my tips for cooking with your grandbabies

  1. Make the things they want to make. Soph wanted cupcakes, I didn’t have the ingredients for those so we made muffins. She was happy to do something with me, but cupcakes would have been a bigger hit. Give the kids the power of choice here.
  2. Make sure your grandchild is old enough to help you in the kitchen and make sure the thing you’re making and the tasks you give them are age appropriate. It saves on frustration all around AND ensures their safety. Are they stable enough to stand on a stool? Is the stool stable? How are their listening skills? Can they follow direction? What about their fine motor skills?
  3. Speaking of safety, don’t freak out too, too much about this. I let Soph lick the butter knife, she ate some batter (like I could stop her, ha) I’ve let her cut things up. With attentive supervision all things are possible. Use your judgement, talk them through it and take a few reasonable risks.
  4. Tidy up the place a bit. Have all your ducks -ingredients- in a row. My kitchen was a train wreck and it made things a bit more challenging. But I’d already invited her in to help and she was eager to do so and didn’t want to wait for Grammy. Next time, I’ll make sure I keep my mouth shut til its clean and I’m organized.
  5. Have fun! You can still teach good hygiene and proper measuring techniques as you go but the real goal here is to spend time with your love, engaged and connected. Don’t worry too much about the mechanics of the thing. Enjoy your time together!

 

We’re having the younger one this weekend.

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OV is eight months old now and army crawling all over the place! Time to baby proof Grammy’s place. He’s going to be a helluva lot of work for the next little bit but boy is he ever cute. I suspect I’ll survive 😉

 

Isoitok Camp- Tanzania

We bumped along a dusty road heading toward the hills, passing by the occasional Maasai boma and groups of women and children. Smiles and two-handed waves all around. When the little girls we passed saw that we were a Land Cruiser full of women being driven by a woman, their faces lit up and their welcome was even more enthusiastic.

You could feel their surprise and delight. It was a tangible thing!

Would any of them grow up to be like Grace and break from their restrictive social norms?  Was Grace inspiring them to go their own way and chose for themselves, a different life?

Seeing their faces really brought home the full scope of the importance of what Grace was doing, just by being herself and doing what she loved. So.fucking.cool! And truly, a nice way to end the day. All day long our Grace had been shrugging off questions and dirty looks about what she was doing out ”there” with us, away from her family. “Who’s looking after your kids?!” ” What does your husband think of this?” It must have been so stressful for her. Yet she answered all queries in her quiet way and didn’t seem ruffled one bit. If I’d had to endure the stares and glares and questions and lectures the way she did…I probably wouldn’t have been so nice. DSC07500

 

Isoitok Camp was unassuming from the outside. Completely fenced within a perimeter of acacia thorns was the most interesting place!

Isoitok means many stones and so stones are used liberally throughout the camp to form pathways and other much more interesting structures to honour that. It was so interesting and pleasing to the eye. We were greeted and seated and offered juice and hot towels while our genial host told us all we needed to know about our new home.

 

Isoitok Camp has a partnership with the Maasai communities surrounding the camp through its African Roots Foundation. How cool is that?! They use the foundation as a platform to run small-scale, sustainable projects that seek to help improve the daily life of the communities surrounding the camp.

We freshened up and met back at the main tent to watch the evening show which for us that night consisted of watching the sun set , accompanied by the soothing sound of cow bells as the Maasai led their cattle back home for the night. When people say “More cow bell” I think of something else entirely now 🙂

Dinner was bloody fantastic!

Avocado Salad & Stuffed Eggplant, Chicken stuffed w/ veg then battered and fried, Stuffed tomato to mimic the chicken, only the tomato was roasted and all caramelized , Vegetable Gratin and Cheesecake for dessert!

We sat under the stars and enjoyed a fire until bed. Bed being real beds in canvass tents. So cool!

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We were up early the next morning to visit a Maasai family but first…

 

 

Coffee on my porch!

We spent the morning with a lovely family and were formally introduced to Maasai culture.

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Reuben leading the way.

We visited with one of the wives in her boma and had fun asking questions and answering hers in return about our daily life. She was so open and welcoming to us, interested in our lives as we were hers. Of course we all admired her children, an older daughter – about 5 or 6 – and a baby girl, probably about one years old, who was the most beautiful child I’d ever seen in my life. She had the brightest eyes and the longest eyelashes. She made us all gasp with astonishment. We were welcomed to take photos and we took some from a distance but it still felt wrong, so we refrained from close-ups. (That subject is a whole other post!) But we didn’t have any problems cuddling her when her mum plopped her in our laps 🙂

 

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It was an interesting experience. We were welcomed and the people we met were friendly and engaging. The money that comes from cultural tours help improve the lives of those in the community.

The idea of cultural tourism opened up questions for us about responsible tourism. This was a mild, gentle reciprocal experience. It felt respectful but we were still questioning ourselves and thinking about how tourism has an impact on the world around us…unknown to us at the time, even bigger questions, from an even bigger experience were just around the corner.

Up next, *Ngorongoro Crater.

( I totally spelled Ngorongoro right from memory. Go me! I’m so proud. )