Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: A year in thanks

I'm a big fan of New Years Day, it's basically my favorite day of the year. This of course helps me get the year started off right if I'm like 'hey day! I freaking love you!' so it sets a good tone.

Right now I'm planning out some goals for 2014, not something I've always done, but something I desperately need now, being a self employed gal and all.

While I'm doing that,  I thought to take a quick break and look back on 2013 and thank God for His epic Grace in my life and take a moment to be thankful for a good year. (Every year above ground is a good year hey?)

January:  Starting of a new year as a new wife in a new country, snow, fireworks, Manito Park discoveries, First Friday art walks, brand new gifted sewing machine.

February:  Short winter month, first sign of Daffodils in the store, Princess Bride at Bing Crosby theatre for the first time, 3 years with my favorite person romantically, home made chicken tikka masala, Tulips appearing in stores.

March: 28 years alive, hiking, the immediate outdoors in my back yard, befriending Willful/Joyful, downtown parades, more Manito Park discoveries

April: 6 months of wedded bliss, longer days, cabin fever lifting, more hiking, internship that averted crazy housewife meltdowns, GREEN CARD APPROVED, running

May: Completing Bloomsday, Spring whispers, longer day trips, waterfalls, yellow fields, blogging, Turnbull wildlife refuge, not wearing winter jackets

June: Yellowstone camping, bears and majestic mountains, a patient husband, free camping sites, fires and yes... more hiking, more outdoors, more roadtrips

July: Glorious summer, long days, shorts and sandals, long weekends, North Cascades camping, best hike ever, yard sales, my parents visiting, Spokane, getting my USA drivers license.

August: The Olympic peninsula camping, the humor of Forks WA, farmer's markets, picnics in the park, ice cream walks, an understanding husband.

September:  Camping with Chestnut Mocha, the county fair, last days of summer, roses, free concerts in the park, pumpkin patches and pick your own flowers for $5, surviving and learning from a depressing office job, starting the whole 30 and loving it.

October: one year of marriage to the best man in the world, ending the whole 30 challenge, Fall colors, fall anniversary camping in Washington, basically fall everything.

November: Survived and loved my first year in the USA, self employment, a supportive husband, thanksgiving like in the movies, heat included in the rent, in laws that live don't far away, Ben's promotion, free Gonzaga basketball games.

December: Another hot springs trip with friends, knowing that we'll book our tickets to South Africa soon, Christmas parties, Christmas with Ben's family, new Christmas traditions, Love Actually, snow tubing again, Christmas eve church service, Photoshop, Mastering the Art of French Cooking Christmas gift, Ben's time off, discovering snow shoeing, snow, a general good feeling about 2014.

We're richly blessed beyond what we deserve, for that I'm so thankful.

What were you most thankful for this year?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

These are the days

It was December 2011, the year I would leave teaching in Vietnam, bring my ‘life partner’ Ben with me to South Africa and visit the US for the first time. This visit had my first American Christmas in store, an engagement and a trip to these hot springs in middle of nowhere Idaho. So saying I have a sentimental attachment to visiting these hot springs would be true. What makes this place even more special is that we were able to bring myparents here in the summer. 

I thought about all these things on our short trip there with our relatively new and special friends. Then I thought about how I was thinking about that. I thought about that because I didn’t want to get too caught up in the past, memories and the general melancholy that is time flying by at an uncontrollable speed. Here I am, two days later, fondly looking at these pictures, thinking about that rustic cabin, the forehead game and the ‘had to be there’ moments shared with amazing people… Now I simply think and believe that ‘these are the days’. 

Aren’t they just? 

Check out this post by Katie of Chestnut Mocha about our trip there for beautiful pictures and stories of our trip. Also, keep your eye on Amanda's blog Willful/Joyful for post on our trip, another talented writer and photographer. My oh my I adore the company of inspiring people. 

P.S. - Did you know that I met Amanda on Instagram and Katie via our blogs! I'll never stop thinking that's cool.

P.P.S- I'm rather proud of my Instagram posts from our trip, so hey, follow me, it's fun there. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dear South Africa

Dear South Africa,

It's - 9 outside, the sun pretends to be shining but it's kind of sucking at it, and I'm cold. Even inside my 'heat included in the rent' apartment. I'm trying my very best not to think of you, you with your 'Skool vakanie is hier' summer vibe going on. Then I read this article about moving back to SA and my best intentions of embracing yet another Christmas without my family and this stupid cold went out the window (which you must know, is impossible because all my windows are double glass and shut super tight).

I also just had a nice long chat with my parents on Viber, about the places we'll go and the meat we'll eat once we do come visit you, hopefully early next year. My goodness do I need you, I need your affordable lamb chops and wine, your beaches, your lions, Woolworths! I need Woolworths!

It feels necessary somehow, to write this letter to you. It's after a year of leaving you that I need to say, it wasn't you, it was me. I didn't leave because I thought you were going to the dogs, or because of that awkward 'held at gunpoint' incident of early 2012. I left due to meeting this super hot guy while cheating on you with Vietnam, sorry about that by the way. So, yeah, something about leaving for love.

Don't be too concerned about me though, I don't hate it here in this strange land,  I will even miss this place once I leave some day. Isn't that just the lot of an expat? Your heart get's left in all these places and you wonder if you'll ever totally feel at home in one place again. Might just be me. Maybe home is not about a place?

I just wanted to write to you and say I'm totally rooting for you. You're one of kind. I know you have problems, turns out, so does every other country. Despite the etolls and that clown of a current  president, I still think you're the best country on earth and I still can't imagine saying that we'll never move back. I don't know if and when, but I also don't know a ton of other things. Like the rules of rugby (still) and what the hell EFF stands for, because surely it can't actually stand for Economic Freedom Fighters can it?

This letter isn't really about me being homesick for you, or about listing the 204 things I miss about you, I just thought we should, you know, touch base. Let you know that I'm thinking about you and that despite not hanging out for a while I'm still totally crazy about you.


'n boeremeisie x

2 hours after I first posted this: I just learned that Madiba has passed away. I've typed out at least 7 different sentences here and I keep deleting them, I guess nothing can really be said other than rest in peace great man. We love you. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

10 things that I am used to: one year anniversary special

Do you recall this little post of mine? I was lamenting the strange things about living in the US that I just wasn't getting used to.

Well today, I've been here a year!

A whole year that I've lived here. (year,here, year, here- say it fast)

I have such mixed feeling about this fact. I think it's not the being here that's hard on me today, but rather that I haven't giggled with my sister in person, had cheap sushi with Belinda, shopped at Woolworths, frantically checked my surroundings as I was entering our property late at night, in a year. So there's that.

Hold on. I feel this post turning it self heavy, and really, I'm here to celebrate the things that I have gotten used to so far...

So make some joyful noise as I present to you these minor victories.

1) Ordering breakfast.

Weird one right. I'm from a world where the options were choosing white or brown toast.  Ordering breakfast for the first time was more intense than passing airport security.
 If you're not used to making choices fast then

"how would like your eggs? Cheese on your hash-browns? Rye, wheat, sourdough, English muffin, English man making your muffin?  More coffee? Cream and sugar with that? Extra bacon with that?"

might be as overwhelming for you as it was for me. Not anymore though, I have mastered the fine art of ordering my eggs finally.

2) Spelling color without the 'u'.

But let's be honest, things are just more colourful  with 'u'.

3) Stopping for pedestrians.

LOL no, I keep forgetting to do so and that's really frowned upon around here.  Let's all hope I get used to this one faster.

4) The responses to "I'm from South Africa"

Some of the responses I've had after answering where I was from have included:

"Oh cool, I've always wanted to go to the Giraffe museum in Nairobi."
"Our uncle lived in Madagascar 4 years ago."
"My sister once went to Africa to build houses for them."
"My son just moved to Australia."

I know I sound like a bit of jerk here, because really, I love that people ask me where I'm from and then try to find a way for us to connect. You, America, would however be perplexed too if you told someone "I'm from the US" (Although, I've noticed most Americans, even while traveling abroad, will answer with their State when asked where they're from) and their response to you is "Oh wow, my cousin once worked in a tourist cocktail bar in Peru".

As I said, I'm used to this and kind of love the strange responses I've had over the last year.

5) Drive Thru's.

Fast food is one thing, but...

Banks, dry cleaning, charitable donations stores, pharmacies.


6) Expensive stuff,

I've gotten better at not working everything back to South African Rand. I still do it sometimes, "did I really just spend R45 on a coffee, I wonder how many tubes of toothpast I could buy for R37 and so on.

Stuff here is more expensive, I'm used it now. In fact I really look forward to my next South African visit, BUY ALL THE THINGS! Drink all the wine! Eat all the Sushi.. ALL OF IT.

7) Driving on the "right" side of the road.


8) Fast and unlimited internet.

How oh how did I live without you. While we're here celebrating internet things: Netflix, I'm very much used to watching my TV and movies on demand by now. I remember in the good ol days when 2 Gigs was all our family had for a whole month.

Disclaimer: It's not like South Africa doesn't have unlimited internet, it's just that it was too expensive while I was still living there, and now I have it, so this is more a 'me' thing than a SA thing. 

9) Converting C to F temperatures.

From all the conversions I've had to learn this one has been the easiest. Probably because I talk about weather so much. People ask me a lot about weather in South Africa and I also give a daily report on the weather to my family in SA. So that has helped.

Although, 1 Degree in Celsius still seems much colder to me than 34 degrees in Fahrenheit.

10) I got used to those long days of summer way to fast, now I'm screwed with these dark at 4:30pm days. dammit.

I wonder if I'll be used to everything by the time I write the 'Two years and loving it' post. Probably not.

Hey, here's a fun idea, how about we follow each other on Twitter and you'll get see what else I'm getting used to in this fabulous country. Follow here.  

Also! This is my 200th post, yay for me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Thursday distraction

It's been a while since I posted a 'distraction' post hasn't it?

I know I should really be posting these for a Friday afternoon, because I sure know how I love link-heavy blogs come the end of the week.

How about you bookmark me and come back when you need to. I'll be here. I will always be here to distract you... and inspire and entertain you. (woops, I might have copied a bit of my own wedding vows there)

First up, I just loved reading this piece on living in New York City by Cup of Jo. It's both hillerious and helps with the NYC envy all of us not living in NYC have.

I adore this colorful blog 'Capture the Colour' by Text Sketches. She's challenged me to do something similar and have I've been meaning to post my own version soon! You should do it too and tell me all about it!

My blog-crush the Everywhereist share her ever applicable blog writing wisdom having just posted her 1000th blog post. Clever one that girl.

A Beautiful Mess recently talked about doing the 4 simple goals project. And I'm such ABM groupie, I'll do what ever they suggest I do. (Just like I did the 30 selfie challenge and am still working on my very own DIY braided rug).
Here are my four simple goals:

I've tried to find fairies in this magical post by my pal Willful/Joyful, she camped in what looks like an enchanted forest and I want to go there now!

This lovely post on Gratitude by Tulips and Flight suits is inspiring. I want to be more intentional about finding opportunities to love on people, and help.

The adorable Owl Eccentric shares a Cher make up tutorial. Which has since made me wonder if should go as Katniss meets Cher for the upcoming Halloween party.

We finally went on a corn-maze adventure. Another solid tick off the 'things I need to do in America' list. My favorite fellow foreign bride Chestnut Mocha posted about it.

Also, my new hair cut that's not so new anymore. Why can't my hair always look like this? Why?

That's it for now x

Monday, October 28, 2013

just a quote...

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe Me."

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.

- Hafiz, from The Gift

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



I want to not hate Mondays.
Or waking up on weekdays.

I don't want to live for the weekend.
And post Garfield memes about how I'm glad it's Friday.

I want to know I'm working towards something more than a paycheck.
Or, a raise, a title, a higher tax bracket.

Two weeks a year to fit a South African trip into.
With 3 days each way included, just to recover. 9 days to connect and breath.

Nope, that's not what I want.

Call it the hopeless idealism of a millennial.
Call it what you want.

It's not that I don't want to work hard.
I want to work really hard (and I will)

I just want to know that it's possible. Just tell me I can do it.

Or tell me I'm crazy. But rather tell me I'm brave.

This is by no means supposed to be a poem, it's just what I've been thinking about these days and it's shaping my decisions.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Anniversary camping and my brilliant new plan

What if...

Instead of one special day celebrating the wedding anniversary we celebrate 'honeyversary'.

What's a honeyversary you ask?

Just this exceptionally smart idea I've had where you celebrate your honeymoon too.Spend the same amount of days traveling as you did on your honeymoon. Go beautiful places, be romantic, be together.

How is this not a thing people?

Well this year, being newly weds and all, we practiced by going on an over-night camping trip the day before our wedding anniversary. So really that doesn't count, but I'm determined to make honeyversary our tradition from next year on.(Where should we go!!)

We also said good bye to camping for the rest of the year. Ending it the way we started, in barely above freezing evening temperatures, all huddled by the fire, snuggled up in a a few dozen blankets, warming hands with bad tasting camp coffee. Oh the best! I'll miss it for a while.

Also, it's a strange thing to get married in the Spring, but celebrate in the Fall.
(We got married in the Southern Hemisphere see)

A few shots from this past weekend:

Monday, October 14, 2013

One year- also, a lifetime.

New Years Day 2012, you'd think there should've been snow on the ground, but New York managed to be freezing without. My favorite person in the world casually (or so I thought) suggests we sit down on an unassuming Central Park bench. You know, the kind that's dedicated to the loving memory of someone who used to loved sitting on park benches in Central Park.

We had both been feeling the weight of the evening approaching. When we'd kiss each other good bye at the JFK airport, unsure of how and when we'll be together again.It was the toughest time, in our approaching three years together. Not knowing where we'll be together again. USA? South Africa? Back in Vietnam? Oman? This year, next year...

I was so preoccupied with how to make these last few hours count that I hardly saw Ben's next move coming. A move he's been thinking about for months and months and years if you want to count that. He proposed. I'm not sure if it was seconds or minutes or a lifetime that hung in the suspense of the question leaving his heart and the 'yes' that I finally managed to get out.

Becoming this man's wife was exactly what I was supposed to do, and ten months later out in the fields with roosters crowing in the background, rain clouds holding their breath in the air and a handful of the best people we knew witnessing, I did.

What I wasn't sure of was how it was all going to come together, on that dedicated Central Park bench, I had no idea.

Yesterday marked our first year of marriage. We can't decide if it has felt like a year or felt like just the other day. I guess it feels like both. I thought a lot about how thankful I am for this man, how happy he makes me, how I find myself more in love with him today than a year ago in the open fields, or a few years ago in the crazy streets of Hanoi.

Through all the love and thankfulness and looking forward to our first non-whole30 meal I was vividly reminded of the promises of God. The ones He gave me as a young teenage girl thinking about the kind of husband she wants, the ones I held onto in some crazy twenty something years and then the ones from those early engagement days. The promise that He will make the way, that I can trust Him, that He will not fail, just like He has never failed before. I really needed to be reminded of this, so that (trusting) in some time I look back on these weird days, and say, I had no idea what I supposed to do, but He showed me the way. Starting over in America is no joke sometimes.

This guy, I go where he goes.