Thursday, 27 February 2014

Wedding Flashback : Centre Pieces

*it's less than a month until our first wedding anniversary, which is why I'm suddenly Flash-back crazy. I'm enjoying reminiscing about the days leading up to it, and the day itself.* 

Our colour-scheme was yellow and navy-ish blue. I'm not sure if we ever actually discussed it, or if I declared it sovereignly (as only brides seem to do), but they were the colours that just were. Everybody seemed happy with them though. As long my mom didn't have to wear yellow, she was happy as Larry. (haha! So as happy as my dad was at not wearing yellow. My dad's name is Larry.) I digress.

Blue because the colour makes Malcolm's eyes stand out. Yellow because sunflowers are yellow. And sunflowers were automatically assumed. Because.

sunflowers yellow navy blue
Cara-Lee Gevers Photography
One day, while on holiday at my parents house, sometime in the 9 months before we actually started planning our wedding, my eyes fell on the ceramic pots on the bookshelf in the lounge. They've always been there, but I suddenly noticed their beautiful shade of blue. 

It was official; these pots were going to be used. 

The pots came to South Africa with my grandparents when they emigrated from Germany in the 50's. I never met my grandmother from that side, and, seeing as something from my paternal grandmother was incorporated into the getting-ready photos, as I'd always dreamed, it was nice to have something from my mom's side too. 

After some pinterest-ing one day, I came across the wooden disks as centre-pieces. I thought they were a good way to make the centre pieces a little more 'together', as opposed to having random things scattered on the table. To find them wasn't so easy - people don't seem to go around chopping down trees big enough. Fortunately (for us!), a storm came through PMB, and a tree in our university parking lot fell over. Once the fellers had chopped it up, Malcolm and I loaded a couple logs into his teeny-weeny boot, and, after they stood in my flat for some time, we took them to Durban, where his parents got somebody to chop them up. They turned out just as I'd imagined.

blue, navy, yellow, grey ceramic and wood
Cara-Lee Gevers Photography
We also had lanterns with the table number on them. These belong to the High School where my mom works, and are often used for the matric-dance. We got hold of them, spent a day sanding off a LOT of old paint, and then I painted them grey and stuck blue cardboard numbers on. Initially, they were going to have a candle in, as we initially wanted an evening reception. But, when it became a morning wedding, the candles were replaced by flowers.

Table number centre piece
Cara-Lee Gevers Photography
Still wanting some flickering candles, we had the blue candle holders next to the pots made by a lady in Eshowe, Ilona Andrews. She did such a great job, and after the wedding we gave them to people who helped out.

ceramic blue glaze
Cara-Lee Gevers Photography
I'm so happy with how all the elements actually came together!

the House Inn Zululand, eshowe
Cara-Lee Gevers Photography
wedding reception: blue, navy, yellow, white
Cara-Lee Gevers Photography

I look forward to sharing more soon! 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Weekend Wandering

Malcolm wasn't feeling too great this last weekend, but it was a goodie nonetheless.

Friday evening friends came over and we chatted and ate cake and pudding. Saturday evening was a similar event but with Elfer Raus and Uno thrown into the mix. We're so blessed to have made friends with such kind-hearted people in our building. Saturday was also the Internationale Suppen Fest (yep, a soup festival) up here in Richtsberg. Despite not being hungry, we headed over to see what it was like and just to cure some cabin-fever brought on by staying in all day. We were astounded by how many people there were! We stood in the queue for quite some time to keep friends company and catch up, and then as we neared the door to the hall with all the different soups for tasting, made our way home. Apparently there was a white chocolate and chicken soup which sounds intriguing, and I'm looking forward to finding out which soup won the event! 

On Sunday after church, as we left, we were surprised by what a beautiful day it was. Way too beautiful to just go home and sit inside. So, we trekked up the hill to Spiegelslust to see the view.

There's nothing like a sign warning of possible unexploded bombs to keep one on the path! 

hiking trail




It's a pretty steep hill to climb, but fortunately the path zig-zags up so although it's a long walk, it isn't actually very strenuous. And, with the beautiful weather, the muddy paths weren't slippery and the air was just a little crisp.
We eventually made it up to the top and got to the tower. There's a beer garden and coffee shop there, and the view is the best we've seen of Marburg. For a euro one can go all the way to the top, though we went just to the first level, and already it was so impressive.

marburg



marburg view

marburg view

marburg view


Certainly worth the detour!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Wedding Flashback: Lies and Deception

A year ago today, a month before getting married, Malcolm and I were sneaking and lying to each other. Saying we had plans with friends when we didn't, and hiding belongings to force delays. 

Yep, the day of my Kitchen Tea and his Bachelor's Party. 

I knew what was being planned for Malcolm's bachelor's party, as my brother was helping to organise it. He told me the date and I assured him Malcolm was available. Then, after work one day, when Malcolm came to visit me, he announced that he was being sent away for work over that weekend. Quick sms to my brother, and they needed to change the date.

Meanwhile, I was moping about the fact that I probably wouldn't have anything special because my bridesmaids live so far away and I was in a different city to my mom and mom-in-law. I'm still a little disappointed that so many things I had imagined doing with my mum, like going to dress-fittings, I needed to do alone. But, there were plenty of subsequent special moments to make up for it. Nevertheless, Malcolm picked up on my gloominess, and was a big coordinator for organising my kitchen tea... definitely not traditional, but so sweet! After some consideration, they chose to have it for me at the home of family friends, Liesl and Doug, in whose garden-flat Malcolm was living at the time.

Eventually, the day of Malcolm's Bachelor's arrived. I knew he needed to be at his flat at a 10am, while he needed to get me to his flat at 10am. However, while I wanted him to get there early so he'd be ready to be kidnapped, he needed to get me there a little late so that everything would be prepared.

So he came over to me for breakfast. He said that he needed to meet with Liesl at 10am to go check out a flat she had heard of for after we were married. I was concerned because I knew his friends had other plans for him, but thought that it might be a trick organised by my brother to get him there, so I smsed her and confirmed that.

However, while he wanted me to come with, obviously to see the flat she spoke of, I didn't want to go with him because I knew that then I'd be stuck there without my car and not invited to his day out. So I said I was meeting Anabel, in town for the weekend, for coffee at 10am, even though I'd actually arranged with her for lunch. This got Malcolm worried because he thought she had forgotten about the Kitchen tea or had got the time wrong, so he secretly smsed her. Of course, because I'd lied, she had no idea what I was talking about and why I had said 10am. He let it slide, and we both tried to enjoy our breakfast despite all the frantic messaging and lying.

10am was coming, and I needed to hurry up and get Malcolm back to his flat to meet Liesl (or, as I knew better, to be kidnapped by his friends). He didn't know why I was hurrying him out the door, and he needed to delay me so that everybody would be there for my party. I was getting increasingly frustrated, and then, as we finally got out the door, Malcolm asked if I had my phone. No. He suggested it was in my room (while he had actually hidden it in the couch), so I went off to search for it. Then, when he thought I'd wasted enough time, he fished it out from between the couch cushions, and proclaimed he had found it. Off we went. Finally.

I insisted on driving my own car, so that I could just 'meet with Liesl briefly' and then 'go meet Anabel', and let Malcolm drive ahead of me. What followed was an agonising 2.5km drive as he crawled along at below 40km/hour, while I was feeling like I needed to get him there faster, and would've preferred to drive 60.
We eventually arrived, and as we drove into the gate, I realised there were far more cars than I had thought his friends would bring. Then I saw mum, and it clicked.


I had joked about having my own party with my cuddly toys, and there she was, with a whole arm-full of them from home. Then she took me into the house, and there were some of my favourite ladies.

I was quickly dressed up like some kind of princess-bride, while Malcolm's friends arrived and crowned him. We were both surprised!


Malcolm's friends whisked him off to enjoy a day learning to sword fight in armour, like my knight-in-armour that he is. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a morning of presents, cake, games and the company of special ladies in my life, before being paraded through the mall dressed like this, and then having my make-up done at the bodyshop.







I'm happy to report, that all the scheming did result in good days for both of us, and that despite all the lying and deception, we did go ahead with the wedding and, 11 months later, laugh at the very twisted stories and how they tie together. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Seasons

I've mentioned before how seasons are somewhat unknown to me.

I grew up looking at story books where September showed Autumn leaves falling on children going back to school, and teddy bears playing on the beach in July. Christmas carolers were covered in snow-flakes, and Spring was flowery and filled with bright Easter eggs.
When I'd look out my window though, there was very little change evident. Many trees stayed green throughout Winter, and even our grass was often unaffected. My September birthday coincided with the first Spring showers, and our March wedding was Autumn-y. Our Christmases were spent in the sun, and our Winter holiday in July was perfect for doing some gardening. Our seasons weren't as extreme as they are here. (although, that said, I'm extremely grateful that this winter has been so mild)

Since experiencing seasons that look and feel so drastically different, I've realised something more about Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."

I understood the differences and how contrasting they are, but I never felt the relief or excitement for one season to pass and the next to come. (okay, maybe sometimes, you know, on those really hot summer days)

But, I'm understanding a little more now. The bitter-sweetness of seeing the leaves start to turn golden, signifying that the hot but glorious Summer is ending. The first flowers popping up through the cold, damp soil, and the hope that they represent, that winter is soon to be over, and that the sun will shine again.

The Autumn after we got married was characterised by endings; leaving our jobs, saying goodbyes, pruning our possessions, and uprooting ourselves. But, we quickly transitioned into our Summer as newly-weds in Cologne; fun and, all things considered, carefree. Again, Autumn came, and things in Cologne ended and we were uprooted into Marburg. Our winter in Marburg was a cosy one where we snuggled down, made friends, settled in, and felt like our place right here is home.

But now it's feeling like Spring. 

Our first Spring since 2012. With our roots sinking deeper in here, it feels like we're secure enough to grow. The sun is coming out and I'm feeling hopeful for things and opportunities on the horizon, and for what ever adventures this season brings.

I love the way that God prepares our hearts for the change of seasons. I love that we don't change them, but that He is in control. It's beginning to settle in my heart that He knows when it's time for the season to change, and I'm beginning to learn that our job is to live in and make the most of each season we're in.

Richtsberg

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Miracle Cake

I really felt like baking on Sunday. It was a good day for it because
a) it was Mum's birthday
b) we were going to friends for coffee and cake so I'd be able to share and get the temptation out the house
and
c) it was a miserable, rainy day. 

However, one of the main things I've had to get used to here, is that shops are geschlossen on Sundays. Some bakeries open for a few hours, but grocery stores are completely shut, and there is no such thing as a 24hour Spar down the road from us. This poses a challenge to spontaneous baking, when ingredients are not guaranteed to be in our grocery cupboard. 

Fortunately, I remembered that we had plain yoghurt in the fridge, which made me think of the spicy yogurt cake recipe that I've had for aaaaaages but have never had the ingredients for. They aren't crazy ingredients, but I don't usually have all of them. 

I read over the recipe and realised that, miraculously, I did indeed have all the ingredients. I had the exact amount of butter, the exact amount of yoghurt... everything was perfect to try this new cake. In honour of mum's birthday, I could bake a cake, without substituting anything!
Okay, well, since it's honouring mum, the queen of substitutive baking, I had to substitute ONE ingredient.

Without further ado, I present... Spicy Yoghurt Cake. Aka. miracle cake.

caramel almond spice yoghurt cake

Ingredients: 

CAKE
450ml cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
310ml brown sugar
125ml butter/margarine
250ml plain yoghurt

TOPPING
50ml cream
50ml butter
125ml brown sugar
160ml desiccated coconut
50gr nuts

Preheat oven to 160degrees C. Mix eggs and sugar together, then add melted butter while whisking. Add the yoghurt. Add all other ingredients and mix together. Pour it into a lined 23cm square baking tin. (or, if you're in my position, onto an oven tray covered in tin foil folded up around the edges...) and bake for about 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

While it's baking, slowly heat the ingredients for the topping, until the sugar has melted. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute.

When the cake is done, pour the topping over it (you may need to poke some holes in it if it keeps running to the sides). I also sprinkled some more nuts over the topping. Put the cake back under the heated oven grill until the topping begins to caramelise. (Sadly, our oven has no grill, but it worked well enough.) 
Leave the cake to cool before turning it out. It's also one of those cakes that taste better once cooled than while warm, so let it cool. Yes, I tested this.

Devour. Or have self-control and share.

It turned out pretty well, even though I substituted the mixed spice and ground ginger for "Lebkuchen Gewurz", which is pretty similar. Hey, it was that or curry powder.

It was really tasty, and would be even BETTER with Icecream. In Summer. Come on Summer! 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Valentines in a Valentines-less Land.

Valentines day is apparently not really a 'thing' here. Aww.

Throughout school we'd pay for the Valentines 'civvies day' and usually dress in the obligatory red or pink and white clothes for school that day, instead of uniform.

Exhibit A: Valentines day 2006 or 2007?
A committee of some kind, usually raising money for the Matric Dance, would sell roses, chocolate, teddy bears and mugs, and then deliver them anonymously on the special day. We'd hold our breaths as the delivery-person walked into our classroom and started handing out the goodies. Thank goodness mum taught at my highschool, so I was always assured of at least a rose! Thanks mum! (And Happy Birthday for yesterday, again!) 
Shops would be covered in Valentines day things, and TV would remind me of my single-status for many years. It was usually a fun day, though, and a good excuse to have chocolate.

Here, the only signs that it was Valentines day were the two men I saw with flowers, and the fact that the grocery shops in our area were sold out of just about anything with petals by 6:30pm.

However, in the spirit of celebrating love and holding fast to a wonderfully un-German holiday, we celebrated our first married Valentines Day.

It only really dawned on me that it was coming up on Thursday, so I baked Malcolm some cookies and fudge, and bought him some things to tie in with the card I made.



I was surprised on Friday morning while making our breakfast with a note in the kitchen, which was followed by other notes throughout the day, each with a word for the letters of my name. When I got home from Kinderclub in the evening, the last note was stuck on the doorhandle, and then a letter was stuck on the lounge door. When I opened the door, Malcolm was there to surprise me, looking all handsome, holding the last line of the letter, and a box of Lindt chocolate, in our lounge filled with candle light. This man knows how to melt my heart.

After we had our supper, we headed upstairs to friends and watched Love Actually together. It's one of my favourite movies, though I felt like a lot of humour was lost in translation.

Saturday morning we planned for Malcolm to get his hair cut and then to go for a walk up to Spiegelslustturm, with its huge florescent heart on it, to have a picnic lunch. However, the weather was looking dreary so we scratched that idea and are saving it for another day, and instead had our picnic in our lounge. With left over pizza from Friday night!


All in all, a pretty memorable and fun Valentines Day, where we got to unashamedly celebrate and enjoy being in love.

I hope that wherever and however you celebrated or ignored Valentines Day, that you know that you're loved by the Creator of the universe, and the ultimate Romancer. Nothing beats that.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Noteworthy moments lately

I've been MIA for a little while... and the only reminder that I have this blog are all the spam messages coming through all the time. 
(Anybody want to enlighten me how to stop spamming-sites getting to me? Is it possible?)
But, I've been feeling much like a responsible and productive adult lately... this seems to come in waves, but they do make me feel rather accomplished.

Some of my noteworthy moments...

- getting my first student to tutor, starting next week.

- studying English. Because I'm really quite scared about teaching it!

- playing travel-agent for my parents when they visit. It's actually rather fun to search through all the options and figure out the cheapest transport.

- getting a credit card. And a savings account. Okay, these are actually in Malcolm's name, but we're a team. Finally we can stop storing our savings in envelopes sticky-taped under various surfaces. Although using the "Sparbuch" really doesn't seem like much of a step up, it's at least safer.

- setting up internet banking. I've been terrified to do this in case I accidentally click something and make our money disappear. (There's no English option on the banking site)

- making my second-ever phone call in German to book an appointment.

- reading the Great Gatsby and the Catcher in the Rye in the same week. The advantages of having access to a somewhat outdated English section at the library is that I can read classics I've never bothered with.

- going to scary offices for all sorts of things involving much paper work and signatures. Even though one such adventure proved fruitless as the office moved 2 years ago and the website hasn't been updated, I'm happy to be overcoming my fear of offices.

- following a bit of politics. Oh man, South African politics is interesting, but confusing some times. Related to this...

- keeping tabs on election dates and announcements so that we'll have everything in order to vote. Really, travelling to Berlin makes me think that waiting in a queue on voting day when the station was a km away from home is totally not so bad. South African friends, when you're bored in a queue for an hour, think of us over here needing to travel 8 hours each way to cast our ballot. Thankful that we have the privilege though!

- having collected change from the bank and now being able to do laundry Whenever. I. Want. Booyeah!

- resisting all the easter eggs that are on sale. Ok, not all, I caved and bought one bag of waffeleier.

- not crying like a teenage-Erica when Malcolm scheduled his dentist appointment for early Friday Valentines-Day-Morning. I mean, breakfast in bed will not be happening, but life goes on.

See? I'm getting the hang of this whole adult-world-thing.
That doesn't mean we haven't been having fun though. In the midst of this there have been coffee-and-cake-gatherings, treats in our post-box, celebrating the semester with the Internationale Kreis, and so on. Really living a very blessed life!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Our European Road Trip!

Our road trips used to involve a road, a car, dorritos, ice-cream-stops, the smell of petrol at stations, and sometimes getting a little lost.

Our road trip this weekend involved shoes, trail-mix, stops to catch our breath, and the smell of mossy trees. And a road. And getting a little lost. Some things don't change.

Although it's now considered a walk rather than a road-trip, there was a road. And this is Europe. So we did a European-road-trip. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

Sunday morning was grey and dreary, but we felt like exploring to see what's on the other side of the forest. So Malcolm checked google maps and found a town 3.7 km away and the path there. I took a photo of the map and we set off.

We took the first wrong turn as soon as we got into the forest. We walked left for a little way, but it felt like we should go right. We knew that it was either right or left, but not wanting to take the chance at being wrong, we went straight, which we knew wasn't correct but it felt like the right direction at least. Go figure.

We headed along the path, which soon turned into slippery mud, but it was beautiful. The mist, the remaining snow, the empty trees.


schrock hiking: misty trees

hiking

As we neared the top of the hill, it got a little greener and clearings were covered in soft moss.

hiking



When we got to the top of the hill, we remembered that we had a GPS on our phones, and we realised we were quite far off. But, it was a down hill and we eventually found a sort of tarred road which we decided to follow. All roads lead to Schröck, right? And if we missed, then we'd hopefully land in Moischt.

We were SO happy to finally get out of the forest and into the farm-land. The sun had come out, and we could see Schröck and Moischt in the distance.

moischt marburg


marburg

We walked through the fields, and headed into town to see the church. Judging by the direction that we entered the town from, we must have walked at least 5km, and it took an hour and a half (all the back tracking, stopping to figure out where to go...).

The village looks very much like a farming village, and many houses had barns attached, and there were tractors parked all over. Some buildings were crumbling, but on the outskirts there were some newly built houses. The streets were deserted and it felt like we could be in some sort of horror-movie. You know, they always start off peaceful and unsuspecting.


church

church war memorial

We walked around the church yard, and were really surprised at the war-memorial... SO many names for such a small settlement.

Having seen what there was to see, we headed back out.



Our GPS was working a little better and we managed to get back a lot faster than it took us to get there, and it was nice enjoying the sunshine.