The Cake

I had some grand ideas to make the cake myself, but the idea became more and more daughting, especially given everything else we would be doing.

My sister is a cake decorator in England and although they would be able to attend the wedding we chatted about the cake and she offer a lot of ideas. We decided that if I got the cake made, she would send some things to help me decorate it. This was she felt she could be involved in a small way.

We decided on a white 3 tier cake. I contacted Nadine from Jorja’s Cakes. I asked her if she could make the cake and add a tree up the side. I told her about my sister wanting to help and she was so nice and agreed to make the cake and only do some of the decorations. The job she did was lovely, the cake was perfect. I could never have got it all so smooth and professional looking.

My sister sent 2 little twitter bird toppers back with my Mom from the UK. And some heart cutters and coloured fondant. Ghilraen, Sarah, Heather and my Mom helped me make it look wonderful. Please note my lovely bunting around the cake table. I sat sewing them for weeks before, the ladies at my blanket tea also helped me sew some. They were here and on the chicken coop and at the farm house.

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We were looking for a knife to cut the cake and could not find the one that had been packed. In looking through her kitchen draws Carle found a big meat cleaver. Dad laughted and said it was perfect, the wedding was so non traditional that the cake cutting might as well be too. We hid it in a cake tin and the look on Yme’s face was priceless.

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Quick Easter Bag

This is really quick and you even have time to do it before tomorrow. I left things to the last minute as always and Rachel has been nagging me all week to make Easter Baskets. Then we saw a felt bag on Pinterest and decided a bag was a better idea. We did not have felt though, but quite advantageously we had some yellow material with little lambs. Rachel loves yellow and I know lambs are not strictly speaking Easter but they do fall into Spring, which is what the pagan festival Eostre was about this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. Down South we should really be having an autumn celebration like Halloween.

This is not the proper proper way to make a bag but I had limited time and did not want to sew the edge together and then sew the top seam together while this was in a tube, I just went with what was fast this morning. I did not measure a single thing. I just looked and saw more or less what size I wanted to there are not fixed measurements here.

You will need:

– Fabric. The type does not matter, I did not line it or make this bag for longevity. I used a light printed cotton, but a thicker fabric like denim can be used too.
– Pins
– Scissors
– Ribbons, ric rac, buttons or other decorations
– Iron
– Small safety pin
– Sewing Machine
– Over locker

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Fold over and pin the fabric to the size you want and cut, mine had a pattern so it was easy to cut without needing to measure and still get a straight line. You may need to measure and pin if you fabric has no design as a guide to cut straight.

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Open fabric and fold over a small fold on what will be the top edge of the bag. Pin in place

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Iron the fold down removing the pins as you go, this step can be skipped if you can confidently make a rolled hem without ironing.

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Fold over again this time a slightly bigger fold for the top as you will later attach the handle in this space so it needs to be a decent sized hem.

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Cut handles, remember they need to be folded in half and over locked so make them wide enough. The length depends on how long you want your handles. Make it long enough to cut in half to make 2 handles or cut to strips

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Sew down the folded over and ironed top edge
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We added ribbon over the row of sewing stitches of the top hem
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Sew second row, or other decorations like ric rac, different ribbon colours etc, we just used 2 stripes of the same colour ribbon.
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Now fold your bag in half, sew down the side and bottom seam to close the bag.
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I overlocked both the side and the bottom edges
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Now take the bottom edge and fold it over to meet the side seam
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Pin and sew across this line, you don’t need to do this step but it gives the bag a box bottom, easier for getting things in and out of.
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I used the side that I had already sewn to measure and pin the other side.
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Fold the handle in half lengthwise, with the right sides together and overlock.
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Pin the safety pin to one side of the handle, through only one layer of fabric
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Turn and push the safety pin through the middle of the handle tube ( excuse the messy desk behind)
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Keep working the safety pin through
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Until the pin pops out the otherside and you have successfully turned your handles the right way around.
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Iron flat and cut in half
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Attach the 2 ends of a handle with a square of sewing on the inside of the bag on the top hem, each one about 3-5cm from the side seams. Repeat on the other side with the 2nd handle
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And voila your bag is done.
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Caleb did not want a yellow lamb bag and not one can blame the boy so he took some boxes from the recycling and ask Pappa to make him a Robot Easter Bag.
Robot in progress with scale weight to hold it in place while the glue dried
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Easter Robot – with caterpillar track wheels and all
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Callie thinks he looks like Wall-E
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DIY wedding: Living Plants in recycled tins

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Being a Pink Haired Girl who is green at heart, I wanted to include elements of recycling and green eco friendliness into the wedding. Besides it is a great budget saver if you can make a lot of the decorations from stuff you collect. This blog is about recycled tins into plant pots for living decorations at a wedding or party.

You will need:

* clean tins
* Philips Screw driver
* Hammer
* Potting soil
* Small trays of plants
* Origami crane or other decorations

Step 1: Collect the tins
Collect tins of various shapes and sizes during the months leading up to the wedding/party.
If you want a rusted more antique look then leave them outside to the elements to get a bit rusted.

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Step 2: Make drainage holes
Use the star screw driver and a hammer and make a small drainage hole at the bottom of the tin so that that water does not collect around the roots after you have planted the little plants into the tins. I planted mine the week before to gibe them time to get used to their new environment and also so I had less to do closer to the wedding. No plants likes wet soggy roots so drainage hole are important.

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Step 3: Buy plants and potting soil

If you are really really adventurous you could get seeds and grow the plants you are going to use from seeds but I just went to the nursery and bought small flowers. The fun part is choosing all the colours and pants to suit your theme. We went with a multi coloured, but you can get flowers in certain colours. Bear in mind if the area you are going to use the flowers is in the shade or the sun and then match the flowers accordingly. Depending how far in advance your wedding is remember to look for plant that still have closed buds so that they will be open at the time of the wedding.

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Step 4: Planting

I planted about a week before to let the plants settle in, I used a small amount of potting soils in the bottom of the tin, then added the plant and filled the sides with more soil, press down lightly and water. Keep i the shade until the wedding and remember to water them.

Step 5: Add Decorations and Enjoy

There are many ways that you can decorate the tins, we added ribbons and rainbow origami birds on wire sticks
You can also paint the tin or decorate them in other ways that suit your wedding/party theme

There we used some on the logs next to the isle with little knitted and fabric birds to match our theme as we met on twitter
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Wedding Hair on the Big Day

I blogged quite a lot about what I was going to do with my hair for wedding.
At first I thought I might like it rainbow I then later had a vote on the blog to see what options people liked. It still surprises me that 111 people voted!

I went for a few hair trials and found out a lot about what I did not want.

In the end I (we, as we don’t really talk about the fact that The Geek has hair dyeing skills) did my hair colour at home. We have been doing it for so long that it was just easiest and cheapest for the budget. Since the vote for a light pink with blonde, which I really loved. I had been working on getting my colour lighter. I used Special Effects as always, but the Cupcake pink, and then mixed it with conditioner to get a light pink colour. I had been dyeing the roots with this as they grew out and letting the back slowing wash out and fade from the bright days of Atomic Pink to the softer shade on the day. It is amazing how much pink was left even after no having dyed that part of my hair for over a year.

weddinghairI then found the lovely Natasha who is a make-up artist, home school mom and blogger she normally does Make up for TV Commercials but she agreed to come and help me. She did my hair, my bridesmaid Ghilraen and both our Make-Up. What was even more amazing was that she came to the place my parents were renting at 5:30am to help us all get ready on time. I really love the way my hair and make up turned out on the day. We did a trial 2 weeks before and she really listened to me and captured what I wanted. I am always worried with someone doing my make up that it is going to be too much. I wear very little normally but Natasha was wonderful, she was very understated and kept me looking like me ( just on a really good day)

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Here I am signing the register and you can see the hair from the side. Please note the pen I am signing with. Carle’s attention to detail meant that she found a pen made from a knitting needle, and it was in pink! And of course the beautiful tiara that The Geek got me. But that and the necklace need a post of their own.
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Ghilraen and I together. I think we looked great
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Ghilraen’s Hair at the back
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Remember you did the best you could at the time

Looking Back

BenchI spoke to someone recently about past decisions. It made me realise that when we look back on things that we did in the past we can be so hard on ourselves. We think I should have done this, or if only I did it that way, or I made a mistake. We wonder about different outcomes if we had done something else. This is all normal, BUT what we forget when we beat ourselves up is how it felt to be the person that made that decision at that moment.

The Geek is wise in many ways. One thing he taught me that makes me look back differently is, a silly story he tells about being at the Coke Fest once, he had been there all day from 10am and it was now 11pm and he was tired and dusty, dust in his nose, his mouth and even his eyes felt dusty, he just wanted to be at home. As an introvert, I think he had just had his fill of people, noise, crowds and needed to leave. The only problem was that one of his favourite band Quorn was playing shortly. He debated whether to leave but he could not stay any longer. He made a mental note to remember how he felt in that moment because he knew that looking back one day he would be mad at himself for not staying. I think he is still a little sad that he did not stay but at the time he made the best decision for the person in that moment. I know this is a rather trivial decision but it illustrates a point well.

We forget, often when we look back, we are in a different place emotionally and sometime in different circumstances, We might be able to make a different decision now. We did the best we could at the time, and even if we made a rubbish decision we were different then. Some of the hardest decisions we made before gave us the chances to do and be who we are now. We have to be kinder to that person, he/she sometimes made very very hard choices and because of that we have chances we might not have had.

We will always look back, but I think we need to do it in order to;
– learn,
– to make less mistakes by learning from those we made,
– and to see how far we have come.

We need to use the chance to make sure that the difficult decisions that the person in the past made were for a good reason, we should use it to motivate us to do better and strive harder now.

Some decisions are just crazy hard. They stay with us forever but don’t let them haunt you, learn and grow, past you deserves you to do well now.

**Photo credit** The Awesome Andre van Rooyen

Ring and Blanket

(I was having issues with my blog and adding pictures so I am a bit behind, I will add a few pre-wedding ones and then some about the wedding and honeymoon)

Have you ever had a moment when you realised that you were surrounded with such love and part of something so much bigger than yourself?

I had this on Saturday (26 Jan). Some mysterious parcels have been arriving at our house which I have not been allowed to open. I never had an engagement ring, I asked him to save him waiting to afford a ring, which we could not really and to make it about wanting to make this commitment rather than about the bling. But unbeknown to me. The Geek had poured over the pages of Etsy and spent many hours trying to figure out what the perfect ring would be. He also knew the plans for later in the day so he made the point of giving me his present that morning. It was not a big fuss or a huge planned event but it was perfect. He got something, so me, so perfect. I have had diamond and platinum ( which I bought myself after my first wedding, there was no romance in it) and this means more to me, it is so full of love.

The photos are not the best but you will get the idea

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Inside it says “Jy is my alles”
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Carle and I spent the morning shopping for wedding stuff. We got some great things and were feeling well chuffed with ourselves for crossing so many things off our list. During the week she had suggested that we go to tea after our shopping, I had invited some people over to help me with wedding crafts so we decided to invite them too. Little did I know that Carle and a whole group of my Ravelry friends had planned a surprise for me and were all waiting for me at the Cape Grace.

It was a wonderful afternoon. I knew they had been planning a wedding gift/surprise as Carle had started a thread and then gone onto it from my phone to set it on ignore so that I could not see it. This way they could chat and plan and I would not see the thread and be tempted to read it. I knew it was there and I could have gone and found it but I wanted it to be a surprise and oh boy that is what it was.

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They organised the most amazing blanket for our bed. But not any blanket.
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Carle choose colours to represent each of the 5 of us in the family. I was pink, Yme grey, Rachel yellow, Caleb green and Titus blue for his eyes as we are not sure of his favourite yet. Then she assigned colours to each of our siblings and parents. People from all around the world volunteered and knitted squares and then a group got together and crocheted all the squares together. Her and Pam co-ordinated more than 40 people and had to make sure they could get the right yarn in the right colours and that all the squares would get to SA in time to be sewn together.

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The pink is always next to grey, the kids colours always touch sides with either the pink or the grey. But the corners of the blanket show the true thought and attention to detail that went into this. They are red and white for Natasha. It was to symbolize a jersey she called Yme’s Denis the Menace jersey, and her beautiful red hair. They are the corner stones of the blanket, such a wonderful way to remember her. (They were knitted by a wonderful friend who also lost a sibling)

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There is me looking and reading the book that went with the blanket, it had a note from everyone that contributed. Again it shows that the most precious things in the world are things that can never be bought.
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The whole blanket (on a king size bed, just to give you an idea of the size)
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A huge thank you to Carle and Pam and every person who knitted on this special blanket. I will treasure it forever. ( You will see that there was a square missing, this is the last one that my daughter and mom knitted together while Rachel was visiting my parents. Carle will help me put it in and then it is all ready to winter.

Thank you my friend – (Carle getting tissues from Jo)
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Are your domestic’s children starving?

I write for a nursing journal and was doing an article on malnutrition. I was reminded how big the problem is in this country, it is easy to live I lives removed from poverty and not to ‘see’. But logically if we go to the shop and food prices have gone up and up then how much more must this affect the poorest households.

I have included a few stats from the GAIN ( Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) working paper on Malnutrition in South Africa at the end for those interested but I don’t want you to get lost in the stats.

Most children meet their macronutrient and protein levels, which means they eat enough and often weigh enough that they don’t always look malnourished. So looking at them we can fool ourselves into thinking they are fine. But the problem is on a micronutrient level. As many as 10 000 children will die in our country each year from complication of Vit A deficiency. Other micronutrients such as Vit C, Zinc, Iron, niaccin, folate and calcium are also often lacking. This leads to grow stunning and affects their physical and mental development.

Why do I ask if your domestic’s children are starving?
Becasuse as I was writting this article I could not help constantly thinking if I could feed my family as well as I would want to on what we pay. I pay well above the minimum wage and this is not a wage dispute but rather an eye opener. Even if you pay above the recommended minimum wage lower income households spend on average 70% of their income on food and this is just for the bare essential.

I am not discussing employment issues at all, we all have to do what we think is right and fair when it comes to wages. I think however it should not stop there.

Poor food choices are made by the majority of South Africans rich and poor. Watch trolleys in the shops and you will see whether it is a few coins paid for a white bread, pap and coke or a trolley over flowing with processed foods, fizzy drinks, chips and fatty snacks the same poor choices are being made.

Again I don’t think that there is much we can do to influence this, sure we can teach our domestic workers about the benefit of 5 a day fresh fruit and vegetable but in reality culture, finance and time may make this impossible.

So I decided I could not change millions but I can change 1 family. I challenge you to do the same, you will find the things that work for you. This is what I could do


1) Vitamins and Minerals are what is lacking, consider sponsoring your domestics children a monthly supplement.For babies and smaller children something like EmVit sprinkle is ideal as you can just add it to the pap or breakfast porridge and it is flavourless. Older kids can have the chewable multivitamins. The difference this can make to a child’s life long term is enormous. Imagine if each one of us did this and asked our friends to do the same and they asked their friends etc etc, we can touch a lot of lives

2) I don’t have time to make a vegetable garden alone so I have asked my Nanny/house keeper if she will help me. If we do it together then she can take half the food for her family. Most of us have a small piece of garden, even if you don’t have time to grow anything, maybe get your Domestic/House Keeper/Gardener to help and share the produce. You might even teach them the skill of growing food, or don’t be surprised if you are the one who learns

3) Simple education on food choices and about the 5 a day

4) I give my extra eggs from the chickens and anything else that I have over bought that month. I am careful but if we do have surplace I would rather her family benefits from it.
5) Dish up and extra plate of food at night from what we eat so I know she has had a good meal everyday, if there is less food in her house then at least she has eaten well and the kids can have more.

Can you think of anything else?

Like the starfish story, if we can make a difference to 1 child then we have done a lot

GAIN:” Despite various national nutrition and primary health care programs initiated in South Africa over the last decade, recent findings from scientific research have indicated that child malnutrition rates, as well as child health, have not improved. At the national level, stunting and underweight remain the most common nutritional disorders affecting one out of five children and almost one out of 10 children respectively.

The consequences of these levels of under-nutrition are very serious not just for the children but also for the economic development of the country. Using the latest data from epidemiological studies within a well established model we have calculated that the present levels of stunting and vitamin A deficiency result in more than 10,000 extra child deaths annually in South Africa. Poor breastfeeding habits are contributing to a further 7,312 child deaths. A number of longitudinal studies have also established that stunting and iron deficiency in infancy results in losses in earning capacity in later life, mostly through reduced physical stamina”

No until Death us do part

I have been thinking a lot about wedding vows with The Geek and my wedding coming up in a few short weeks. We want to write our own vows. I am sure not everyone is like me but as I think about the promises I want to make I ponder if people in the audience look at me as a divorced woman and think – “I wonder if she is going to keep them this time”

Maybe being older and wiser and slightly more cynical I am thinking about my promises more carefully. I am not religious. I don’t believe that marriage should be forever if it is damaging to either party. If there is one thing I have learnt is that life does not go to plan. I have seen friends with the greatest love, ended by a cruel twist of fate. Sometimes we marry for the wrong reasons or we grow apart or things just happen.

Did I mean my vows when I said them the first time? – of course. I was not planning to get divorced it was not even an option. But it happened. I am not a bad person. I did not fail, although I am sure there are plenty who think “you just have to try harder and it will work out”. I don’t believe that, I tried for 8 years, sometimes the bravest thing to do is to get out.

I think marriage should be viewed more like a business partnership, obviously a lot more emotional and loving but no one thinks badly of you if a business partnership ends or changes. People grow and change and sometimes it is not in the same direction.

I found this article and it rung true for me:

“People understand that anything can happen in life, and you don’t make a promise you can’t keep. When people get divorced, they mourn the fact that they said ”til death do us part’ — you didn’t keep your word in church (if they had a church wedding). Some people are in therapy because they promised ‘til death do us part’ — it is the sticking point in the healing of a broken marriage. The wording can give you a stigma of personal failure.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,163251,00.html#ixzz2JFi3Rala

I am no less committed to The Geek, in fact I don’t think I have ever thought so long and hard about promises before. I want to say what I know I can keep, and words that will challenge me to work as hard as I can on this relationship. I do not see it as an easy way out to not say until death us do part. I am not just presuming we will stay together, I know we have to work at it and make a conscious choice to make it work.

I know many will disagree with me and think that these are the sort of things that lead to high divorce rate. But in my mind, things happen, sometimes very unexpected things and no one should have to stay miserable in a broken relationship just for the sake of others in society worrying about our morals. There are no prizes for a life of unhappiness.

What do you think?

Wedding Hair

I went to do the colour for the wedding trial hair today. When in to the hair dresser at 11:30 and out at 4:15! It was a long day but it was quite nice not to have kids running around calling Mommy every 0.035 seconds.

We did a paler pink, left some lighter blond bits, it is hard to do it exactly like the other pic as it is not blonde to start with and rather pic. That picture was blonde with pink marbled on. So unless I bleached it all and stripped out the pink it would not work and I really don’t want to strip or damage my hair.

Here is the final result

I love the sides BUT I think the the plaits must go into the roll and be a bit less fussy at the back, what do you think?

this is the part I am not sure about

Stop Camel Light Fun colour boxes!

The Geek smokes, he is trying not to but that is another story. He usually smokes camel and he showed me with some amusement the new bright coloured box he had. It is part of a new limited edition coloured boxed like the ones in this picture. He was surprised how vehemently I reacted against them. They are fun and bright, very clever marketing, I have even heard adults on twitter say that they have not smoked in years or were about to quit and were tempted by the new fun colourful boxes.

Marketing that targets adults is one thing but using bright fun colours often associated with kids, toys and sweets is irresponsible, especially for a brand of light cigarettes, which might be a starting choice for teens. If adults are struggling to resist what about under age teens this holiday? Making smoking fun is irresponsible and dangerous. Tobacco companies can do what they like to adults, but when they blur the line and target children I get furious.

Titus (23 months) has never shown any interest in The Geek’s cigarettes, but he saw the box on the counter, pushed over a chair and got them down and tried to eat them because he thought they were sweets! If a baby under 2 is programmed to associate bright colours with sweets and something nice what chance to older kids have.

I am disgusted and appalled at the lack if integrity and regard for children’s safety.

If you like me feel strongly about this, and I encourage every parent with their child’s well being at heart to take the time to complain.

I have as yet not managed to get any tobacco company to take ownership of the camel brand. Everyone tells me it is someone else. I did read something that said that Camel was being brought into SA under Jti and I have emailed them a complaint, there is no direct number.
You can email a complaint to asasa.org.za There is a very simple on line form to fill in.
Blog about it
Complain to any shops that you see stocking them
Complain on Hello Peter
Complain to the department of Health
Email or tweet you local government representative. I am going to tweet Helen Zilla. @helenzilla

Our kids need protecting at all costs.