Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cape Town


 So here I am, posting from the fairest Cape, the “Mother City”, the city on the southernmost tip of Africa. I never thought I would be writing those words and some days I still feel as if I am dreaming. It have wanted to live here since I first visited when I was twelve years old. I fell in love with Cape Town as a child and have wanted to move here ever since then, although I was born near the Highveld gold fields and have lived my entire life on the dry, hot, grassy plains above the escarpment with thorn trees and red dust and the blinding sun all I have ever known.
What a culture shock this move has been. We have lived here for the past six months and I am still seriously homesick for the Highveld. Cape Town is a beautiful city but it is so foreign to all I have known growing up. I now live a two day drive from where I was born but I could just as well be living on another continent. Life is slower and more relaxed. People spend serious time on leisure activities. The scruffy man in the bank queue who looks like a beach bum turns out to be a business owner talking in millions about profit. Long hair and casual clothes have replaced the army style haircuts and business suits of Gauteng. The languages are different, with Xhosa clicks heard everywhere, Afrikaans is spoken with a Cape accent which nothing like I am used to and the slow drawl that identifies a Capetonian is soft and foreign to my ears. Donkey carts, squirrels in the trees, seabirds flying overhead. The taste of the sea on my lips if the wind is blowing in the right direction. The gnarled and slanted trees growing in defiance of the Cape winds. And always the magnificence of Table Mountain dominating the skyline.
This is now the city that I call home. Yet my heart still longs for bone chilling winter frost, the still, deep hush before a Highveld thunderstorm breaks, the red earth and purple Jacarandas. The granite copies and harsh cry of the Hadeda Ibis.
We have made the decision to move and there is no going back but I am still a Valie at heart and it will take a long time before I will think of myself as Capetonian. I feel very much like these tourists in Fish Hoek beach, far from home and everything is foreign.
Please keep reading and join me on this new adventure. When I decided to start this blog I decided to call it seasonal sanity because at the time there was a great deal of craziness in my life. I was battling to with being a mom to two very young children and having to go back to work. My life has changed so much and I am now in a different season of life. My children are both at school and I am, for the time being, a housewife. We live in a beautiful city and I look forward to sharing our adventures with you.
Happy blogging
Lauren


Saturday, February 18, 2017

New books and storm lily


The rain is falling intermittently as I am writing this post and it reminds me of God's grace in watering our lives with gifts that grow our soul. New books by good authors are on of these ways.New books by favourite authors is always something to get excited about. When the authors in question happen to be friends that is even better.

Lisa-Jo Baker is mom to three children and blogs at lisajobaker.com. Her first book is called Surprised by motherhood and it is excellent. If you are a mom or know someone who is, I highly recommend this book. She is about to bring out a second book called Never Unfriended, the secret to keeping lasting friendships.

It deals with friendship between women and uplifting and devastating these friendships can be because, quite honestly, women can be quite savage with others of their species, leaving scars that can hurt for decades. She is giving away the first two chapters for FREE, so go on over to her blog and sign up. I have already started reading the first chapter and I can tell you it is excellent. Never Unfriended will be published on 4 April 2017, so do yourself a favour and pre-order your copy or keep an eye out for it on the shelves.

The second book I would like to recommend is Walking in Grace by Dalene Reyburn. Dalene is mom to two awesome boys and has learnt the hard way about walking in grace. I have an enormous amount of respect for her and her husband and God is using both of them to bless others. Walking in Grace is a 365 day devotional and if you want to deepen your walk with God, then get this devotional. It is already on the shelves, so do yourself a favour and get a copy. 

Dalene and Lisa-Jo have been wonderfully blessed as authors and write from deep experience with words that reach deep into your heart.


 On a completely different not I would love to share this beautiful storm lily with you. It was one of four given to me by a friend and it is the lone survivor.

It flowered for the first time this summer and was so beautiful while it lasted.

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Welcome 2017!



I always feel a bit ambivalent about a New Year starting. On one hand I look back at the year past and feel that I could have done so much better, so much more. This past year has been a particularly difficult year for our family. I have battled with health issues which exhaust me emotionally more than anything else. My uncle died last December following a very short illness, which meant my aunt has had to move back to South Africa. My dad started the year off with a triple bypass followed by complications and two return trips to ICU. God has graciously spared him and we are so grateful but it has been a stressful time for our family.

I lost my job and had to take a much lower paying job. While we have battled financially as a result, I am also much happier and calmer in my new job and for the first time in years actually look forward to going to work. This loss of income has meant that we have had to take my daughter out of her expensive private school, which for those of you who live in South Africa or know anything about our public school system know that it has been a big blow to our family, particularly my daughter. We are also in the process of selling our house as we are no longer able to pay our bond and at the moment face a very uncertain future in terms of where we are going to live and how we are going to cover expenses. This financial stress has also brought me closer to some dear friends who have let me cry on shoulders when needed and prayed with and for me when I feel weak and afraid. I thank God for this family He has given to believers.

We have also lost a number of friends this year to illness and accidents, some younger than we are. This brought great sadness but also helped me to remember that this life has no guarantees and that only God know when our time is up, so I need to live my life to the full while I can because there may be no tomorrow. It has also inspired me to stop putting off the things I fear or the things that want to do “one day” when I have the time. These include losing a LOT of weight that is literally holding me back from living my best life. It also means finishing a degree that I have wanted to complete for years but was held back by fear. It means connecting with friends round a cup of coffee and not just on Facebook. And putting paint brush to paper and ink on a page. You get the idea.

I do not know what 2017 holds and I have no guarantee that I will be here to greet the New Year and see in 2018. What I do have in hope and a faithful God to cling to in all things. May your 2017 be full of God’s blessings and may you experience all His goodness.

A small aside. I have a friend, Dalene Reyburn who is a brilliant writer and she just published a book of devotions called Walking in Grace which is coming out in January 2017. Please go to her blog for a free copy of the first chapter of her book and grab a copy of, in fact grab several copies for friends and family. Dalene has been given the gift of writing and touching our souls where they need it most. I am getting nothing from this promotion except the knowledge that you will be supporting a friend and will be blessed by what she has to say.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

A year of living dangerously


Danger means many different things to different people. For some it is the adrenaline rush you get from leaping out of a plane. Others get a rush from chemicals or alcohol or even new relationship. For others it is their career. My dangerous looks a little different.
Relection


I have a whole box full of patterns I want to try, cookbooks I would love to experiment with, a bag of polymer clay with a head full of ideas of what I would love to create, two easels and a drawer full of art materials. My dangerous is picking up the paintbrush, opening a new Word document, adding the first stitch to needle or material, buying the ingredients for a new recipe. The blank canvas, in whichever form it comes terrifies me, yet I have this desperate desire to create. It fills me to the point where I cannot not create.

Perfectionism and creativity are not happy bed companions. The very nature of creativity is wrought with failure. I am so scared of this. Ruining a canvas, writing a post no-one will read terrifies me to the point of immobility. So this year I have promised myself I WILL create, regardless of the outcome. I have given myself permission to fail because I realise that without this permission I will stagnate and die a little more inside each day.
Letting go

My God did not create me for this. He is the first creator and has made me in His image, which means that my creativity is given as a gift from my Father, to enjoy and to give pleasure to others.

So here is to a year (... and a future) of leaping off cliffs and living dangerously.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yarn along

I have decided to join Ginny from Small Things over at her Yarn Along on Wednesdays. Why don't you join me. Although I am busy with my Granny Stripe blanket at the moment, I tend to have more than one project going at any given time, so I will share what I am busy with at the moment. I just love the colours I have chosen for my blanket and it is going to be a total indulgence for the girls in the family with our favourites of pink, lavender and purple.

The blanket is going to be a long term project so I will share here what progress I am making as I go along but in between I know there will be other projects. I have found a gorgeous knitted strawberry and apple pattern by Linda at Natural Suburbia. It is my daughter's birthday soon and her uncle has revamped a small wooden stove for her as a birthday gift. I think I am going to add some apples and strawberries to her toy kitchen as part of her birthday present.

While crochet is definitely my first love when it comes to handwork, I cannot resist yarn and material. I have a small sea shell cross stitch, an applique cat and a dress to finish as well a two quiet books. I find that doing handwork helps keep me sane and after a hectic day at work it is great to relax with a cup of tea, a good TV programme and something to make keeping my hands busy.



Happy creating!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Creative sparks 2015


 The ATC on the left was made for an ATC swap at Very Berry handmade entitled Home. I got my inspiration from the picture of this beautiful door on the right ( I cannot remember where I found it, so if this is your photo please contact me so that I can acknowledge it).
I have a kitchen full of random plastic bags and they seem to get everywhere. I decided to make a pretty bag to keep them in. I used a piece of material I had and sewed up the side. I then added a seam on the top and the bottom and threaded some elastic though the seams to close them up a bit and prevent the bags from falling out. Finally I crocheted a short chain and sewed it to the top of the bag. Voila! One plastic bag holder.

 I know that strictly speaking I did not make this. I have wanted to try to plant bulbs in a vase for quite a while and this spring decided to give it a try. It worked really well but unfortunately I was bedridden shortly after this for a couple of weeks and no-one watered the plants so they died. I will give it a try again this year.
A bookmark I made for a swap

 My daughter is crazy about Frozen and I got the instruction to make her a Frozen cake for her birthday. I found the decorations at a party store. The cake itself is covered with condensed milk icing and pretty sugar crystals.

 A pretty bead necklace my daughter and I made using a mixture o plastic and glass beads. It was more a fun exercise in beading for her but we really enjoyed making this and I think it turned out quite well.

The pattern for this  lovely flower cushion comes form one of my favourite blogger, Lucy, over at Attic24. I was bedridden for two months after surgery to my Achilles tendon last year and spent about 6 weeks working on the cushion. Lucy's patterns are very easy to follow and I really love how my cushion turned out

This rather sinister looking shack was made for my son after he received some pirate Lego for Christmas and had nowhere to land his ship.I found this over at Papermau, a website with dozens of free paper diorama's to download and build.

I made this Christmas advent garland this year from a pattern I found at Ravelry  by Frankie Brown. It is the first successful knitted project I have completed.  It was quite a difficult project but one that I am quite proud of.

The cake above was for my son's birthday. He is crazy about dinosaurs, so I decided to make him a cake with a whole lot of different dinosaurs.



I made this snake for my daughter after her having seen a similar toy at a friends house. It is made strips of material sewn together and then stuffed. She loves the snake and it sleeps on her bed every night. It was such a hit that her brother persuaded my mom to make him one as well.

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Finally this crocheted strawberry hat was made by knitting rounds similar to the flower cushion above. When it was large enough I stopped adding stitches. The edging was crocheted in a matching green and I added a flower and leaves to the crown.

All in all I have had a busy creative year. I cannot wait to see what this year holds and have already started on my new project, a granny stripe crochet queen size bed blanket.

BIG SCHOOL


I am officially the parent of a First grader.
When I started this blog in 2011 my son was nearly three years old and my daughter 15 months old. This week, with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat I sent my babies off to big school. They were both so delighted and over excited, dressed in too big, brand new uniforms and carrying bags that seemed to dwarf them. This letting go process, that starts from the minute the umbilical cord is cut, is so difficult at times.

 I have to let them go, for their sake and mine so that they can gain their independence and one day leave to start their own home and possibly family but it is so difficult to hand them over to another woman to care for. Then going off to work and trying so hard not to think about them every moment of the day and physically holding myself back from phoning the school to see how the day went.

 I am not a working mother by choice and this week has been much harder than I anticipated. I had planned to stay at home until they went to school and then possibly home school them. Life happened and I have worked for nearly all of their short lives, handing them over some mornings with both of us in tears and having to turn my back on the cries of a child who cannot bear that I leave. Then crying most of the way to work because very motherly instinct is telling me to turn the car around and take my child home.

Envy is a very ugly thing but sometimes it overwhelms me when I chat to friends who have been stay at home mom’s or home schooled their children. This week has been so hard, another stepping stone on the road to adulthood. I know I am not the only working mom out there who feels this way, having missed out on large chunks of their children lives. Time spent in meetings when you would rather have been playing in the sandpit. Days at work when you have been forced to send a sick child to school or left them with a granny or a nanny because your leave is up or you have a deadline to meet. Take away dinners instead of home cooked meals, because honestly you do not have the energy left to even think of a meal, much less cook it. Buying their birthday cake because there is no time to make one from scratch.Teacher being the one who gets the hugs and whispered confidences that should have been yours.Missing out on sports days or dance recitals because how can you ask your boss off for that when your work is piled up on your desk?

If you are a working mom I am sure that you can add your own regrets to this list and the time just flies by and before you know it they are wearing uniforms and getting homework and doing team sports.

And it seems like yesterday they were tiny babies in your arms, depending on you for everything.


This new phase is going to take some getting used to. I feel a bit shell shocked but I am so proud of how they have taken to their new school and classes without a fuss, making new friends and seeing this all as adventure. This year I am going to try so much harder to make every moment count, as the years are going far too quickly.