~Written and edited by Veronica Clark ~

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Smirnoff's first Swim!

Good Morning friends. Spring seems to have sprung and the days are warming up slowly. I am delighted as I am not much good at winter. Although, I love the elegance of winter's clothes, I adore the freedom of my summer wardrobe much more.

Smirnoff, the Labrador has decided that it is time for his first swim after winter. He generally swims daily in summer but during winter a  maniac plunge into the pool happens, normally, when he returns from a walk. He barges in the front door, panting and skids and slides around corners to exit at the patio door in full "Marley and Me" style, all the while his tail is  wagging like crazy and plunges in, no matter what the weather. Come rain or shine!! Ditto when her returns from a stint at the kennels where he probably pines for the pool endlessly...

He gets so exhausted but can't seem to stop himself.  On this occasion he came back from a walk and was already tired. He plunges in and takes a turn and exits, has a shake, smiles at you with sheer delight, turns and heads back in.... Repeat , Repeat ....

On this occasion, we counted seventeen sorties in and out making quite a impact on the level of the pool!

Almost to tired to get his back legs out the pool!!

Eventually he has had enough! and time to dry of next to the pool at mother's feet, completely contented and satisfied with the days fun...

Well, now I am looking forward to my first swim of the season but unfortunately I am not a Lab and the temperature of the water is still way to cold to take a plunge!

I will be out of town for a few days and hope to be back on Monday.

Live Well



I will be joining Watery Wednesday with one wet dog! here at Pixel Posts

as well as

Outdoor Wedenesday at a Southern Daydreamer here

Please regale me with your comments in the comment box below, to keep me company while I am away...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Paella Aplenty

Good morning dear ones. I have had a very busy weekend which started on Friday already, with a visit to the Wild Flower Reserves of Darling along with hoards, and I mean hoards of tourists. It was wonderful though, to be out in the reserves among the flowers searching for natures little treasures close to the ground. The weather is still terribly confused and one minute we have spring and then winter chases us indoors again. But, I have my eyes firmly on spring and Canal Walk Shopping Centre have started their Christmas Decorations. Can you believe it? How time flies!

Spotting the Christmas decorations, immediately made me think of Christmas and Summer Holiday food, naturally!! One of my favourite dishes for the holidays around the pool is paella. Well, first of all ,it always feeds a crowd and second of all, everyone can get involved in helping to make it. This recipe feeds between 8- 12 depending on how many prawns and how big the fish!

Now, of course as you know, its a Spanish Rice dish that originated in Valencia where it is a regional dish that is regarded as a identifying symbol. I am sure there are many debates as to how to make paella and what should and should not be added, and over a glass or two of Sangria we can have lengthy debates and discussions about the merits of  adding snails, rabbit, chicken, duck, beans, etc!! And, of course what rice to use will take a few more sangria's to conclude. So, let us just say, that my Paella recipe falls into the freestyle paella category...very free style.

So here is a typical summer holiday menu at our house around the pool in Dec/Jan.

Strawberry Champage Fizz


Served with Springfield's Wild Yeast Chardonnay without fail!

Lemon Meringue

Veronica's Paella

Light the braai fire and make the Champagne Strawberry fizz for the chefs.

Pour a small amount of strawberry puree (strained to remove seeds) into a tall glass and top up with your favourite bubbly. Pour slowly as it fizzes and you will have yourself doused in no time at all and the dog will be licking the floor with a glee full look on his face, So take care..

Now onto the paella

1.5 kg of chicken
 ( I use small drumsticks but I have also used deboned thighs or mini chicken breast fillets)

400 g smoked pork cut into strips
(I use smoked gammon steaks)

(the proper horse shoe one from Woolies or delis)

as many as you want!

Fresh Calamari tubes cut into rounds

Fresh Mussels
as many as you feel you need

Fresh Fish

(I choose an oily fish such a yellow tail, tuna or even the fish kebabs on offer at Woolies. As long as it is braaiable (Can be BBQed)

2 Large Onions, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 chilli, seeded and finely chopped
3 red peppers, seeded and cut into slivers
4-6 tomatoes, skinned and chopped or tin tomatoes
fresh basil
fresh parsley

750 g arborio rice
(debate declared open, bring your own Sangria)
30 ml turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
2 pinches saffron
2 litres  hot Chicken Stock
( made with 4 chicken stock cubes or fresh of course)
I also use fish stock if I was able to make it myself
100 ml white wine
Olive oil

I am very particular about which paprika to use. This is the absolute best for me!!

Now that you have your bountiful harvest together here's what you do...

Whip out your paella pan and get going...

Saute the chorizo first in order to use the oils released from the chorizo to fry the onions and garlic in otherwise
Saute the onions in olive oil until translucent adding the chilli as well
Towards the end add the crushed garlic and saute briefly to release the oils
My paella pan is large enough and here I am sauteing onions, chorizo and the smoked pork gammon simultaneously.

Remove and set aside

Saute the red peppers as well. I prefer to roast the pepper on the braai (BBQ) since the fire is going and then to remove the skin and cut into slivers. Since Mr. Tassels is tending the fire I give him a tongs to turn them until they are blackened and done. Put in a paper bag and then remove skins easily.

This time round I used the mini chicken fillets and dipped them in BBQ marinade and sauté until done
Set aside

Stir fry the prawns until done...
Same with the calamari ~ they only take a few seconds.
No need to spice they will absorb all the flavour in the pan

...or hand them to the chef in charge of the BBQ to grill them over the fire along with the fish or fish kebabs

Set aside...

Now for the rice....

To begin with I sauté the rice in a little olive oil stirring all the time.
Add the turmeric to the rice and sauté
Place the saffron strands in a little bowls and pour over a little boiling water and leave to steep

Add the tomatoes to the rice and continue to stir

Ladle in the warm stock one ladle at a time stirring until all the stock has been absorbed

Towards the end of cooking I add the paprika and the saffron and stir for a few minutes

This is where is gets interesting.....and you have to pretend you're an octopus if you do not have any help at hand.

Steam the mussels in a pot with a bit of boiling water until shells open.
Discard any mussels that do not open

Add  the chicken, pork, chorizo, onions, red peppers, calamari, mussels, prawns and warm through.

Most people add cooked peas but I usually do not preferring to leave it as is or to just garnish it with fresh parsley or basil.

Adjust the seasonig to your taste. Since I am a paprika freak I always add a little more...

The fish  I usually serve on the side with plenty of lemons

I prefer a  white wine like Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay or Nitida Sauvignon Blanc

Bon Apetité

Now, I have to say that you probably think that it looks like a lot of work but honestly, you get so practised that it gets faster and anyway, since it holidays there are always helping hands and its fun to involve everyone.

So you can farm out the mussel steaming, the fish and prawns to the BBQ chief...

Do give it a try, wether you are in summer or autumn it suits both seasons perfectly.

Let us refresh your memory and tastebuds!!!

Live Well Friends



Please regale me with your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for stopping by....

Linking to On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable here

Mosaic Monday with Mary at Dear Little Red House here

Just something I whipped up at The Girl Creative here

Recipe Roundup here Christmas Smorgasboard of Recipes
Amaze me Monday at Dittle Dattle here

Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits at Permanent Posies here

Saturday Show Off at Be Different act Normal here

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ladies Spring Tea ~Linda's Vintage Table

Good morning dear ones! Welcome to all the new faces on my followers list as well as those of you subscribed via feed burner, face book and e-mail. It is great to have you along on my inspirational ride through blogging and I hope you are all having a good week!

There has been so much wonderful inspiration to share in recently, that I almost forget to post on my own blog!

I recently attended a ladies morning organised by the local church in our community and my dear friend Linda invited me to share the morning with her and some other guests. Each hostess was responsible for the decoration of their own table and my oh my...what a feast it was! And, as you might imagine, being a blogger, I was superbly snap happy! I will be sharing a few more of the wonderful tables, in the coming weeks, but I am starting with Linda's gorgeous vintage table. The inspiration for the table scape came from her daughter who attended a varsity hostel reunion.

Come take a look...

allow me to translate the invite...

Spring Tea

Women with spirit, passion, hope and humour.
(the Afrikaans word "woema" is a slang word and means "women with get up and go spirit!!")

Linda used an old green enamel treasured coffee pot
for her centre piece and the arrangement was stunning.
Note how the colour of the rosebuds are shown off to perfection against the green enamel tone... Some of the blooms Linda picked on a walk, the green ones and the coned shaped yellow ones are indigenous and grows wild here.
The round rose covered tablet case on the book contained the sweetener tablets!

There were pearls of wisdom being offered all round and some of them also landed on the table...

The Tablecloth belonged to Linda's mother-in -law.

The attention to detail was astonishing...
The pincushion is just to dear for words  and was a gift.

I just love the way the blue and green teapot's lid picks up the colour of the enamel.

Gorgeous, isn't it?

And hiding inside was the final treat for the morning,,,,Shortbread biscuits and chocolates, yes inside the teapot!

What a surprise!

The functional crockery was supplied to each hostess who added her own distinctive detail to her table. Hence the white canteen cups, but who would have noted with all the wonderful intricate little details that Linda added...

Lace, ribbon and a bead add to the vintage feel...

A bouquet for Spring if ever you saw one...

The roses looks almost fragile nestled into the delicate white and of course the pearls rounds it off beautifully.

I have to mention that Linda has a fine eye for detail, is a consummate hostess and is a multi talented lady!

She also paints and her home and garden is a delight.

Watch out for both in a future post.

And, here's me eyeing up the billowy meringues....

We started with a quiche and salad.

And, how do you like the table cloth? Gorgeous...

How many of you have a similar one tucked away in the back of the closet?

Time to haul it out and parade it's intricate pattern and beauty...

See, what I mean? Details to delight!

An enamel tea pot with the locally brewed rooibos tea.

The little milk jug was borrowed from her daughter's varsity room.

And, finally, let me introduce you to the lovely lady herself. Linda and her daughter Anli.

And, of course we all had to admire the doilies belonging to Linda's mom and mom-in-law!
What a blast from the past. I am sure I own a few myself... I need to find them!

It was such a fun morning with a wonderful speaker filled with humour and fellowship.

A huge big kiss and thank you hug to Linda for a stunning morning.

I hope you enjoyed your visit .

I will be linking Linda's Vintage Table to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch with Susan here ,who hosts us all each week.

Feather your Nest Friday at French Country Cottage here

Vintage Inspiration Friday with Debra at On Common Ground here

Freshman Friday with Erin at home Savvy here

Debbie Doo's Newby Party here

Table Top Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life here

Please join us for loads of inspiration.

Live Well



all images are my own .

Please leave me with your thoughts in the comment box below. I love hearing from you and if the comment box is not enough my email is in the sidebar, if you would like to drop me a mail.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Queen of the Night

Hello dear friends. We are back in the grip of winter and finally the rain that was meant for winter is  falling all over Spring. I had full intentions to fly into the garden and snip, plant and weed but alas a Cape Storm foiled my good intentions and now I am gardening in cyber space ...

I was cleaning up my computer files when I wound some ramblings that I thought I might share with you. Do you ever do this? Muse and ramble...

Well, brace yourself...

Ramblings from a suburban garden, in constant state of renovation and renewal of sorts...

Sunny Saturday dreams under Queen of the Night...

Guava notes assail my nostrils and I take a languid sip from the glass...tropical fruit pops on my tongue and I close my eyes...hmmm, I am thinking,...this is bliss...

Reclining on a comfy deck chair, I am savouring the taste of my salmon and cucumber sarmie, washed down with a Chenin Blanch, that according to the label, has raked in more medals than team SA in India, with a lot less effort, might I add, aptly named Perdeberg...lol..honestly.

There is an ever so gentle stirring of the Washington Palm's brown hula skirts as the breeze attempts to waft across the garden. It barely makes it to the assembly of Acers in pots, perched on the camping table next to me...but it does manage, somehow, to flutter the new luminous lacy-lime- butterfly leaves of Serruga against the boyant maroony-pinky- bronze of Acer Dissectum Nigrum. Acer Moonfire interjects with a lively red glowing whirl, whilst the two toned leaves, of the one that I can never remember the name of, interjects with a flurry to add lightness...and dances merrily as I drift off into a lost in translation state of mind...

I planted myself on the reclining chair under my favourite tree, actually it's a shrub turned tree called Cestrum Nocturnum or Queen of the Night. It's contorted branches are an endless source of delight for me and my feathered friends. At last count its twiggy growth was host to twenty three nests...makes for a lot of bird poop believe me!

My Queen of the Night is an endangered specimen here on my patch. Apart from being declared a number one category invader by the Department of Conservation and thus should be removed, its chief enemy on my patch is actually, Mr Tassels!! He threatens my Queen with constant extinction as its a great source of irritation for him, what with dropping leaves in his pool, and it had to endure the sole blame for turning said pool into green- pea- soupy duck pond over the winter months. Not taking care of the pool had absolutely nothing to do with it, you understand...

But Queen of the Night will remain as long as I have a say. I have to confess though, (but certainly not to Mr. Tassels, I won't) that it is a bit messy, but it's but a slight inconvenience to bear, considering the heavenly fragrance that it exudes so generously to our entire neighbourhood when in full bud ( not to mention, an inordinate amount of leaf mould for my beds... see it has many uses. honestly, as a fellow garden maniac, I am sure you get my drift! The tiny starry flowers are all but insignificant, but, en-masse, covering the tree in the late summer, they positively glow at dusk.

I am addicted to the fragrance and can not seem to get enough of the heady perfume. I will often come out here at night and lie on the warm paving to inhale its exotic offerings. It always fills me with a  sense of profound comfort when I catch a whiff of it through the open window lying in my bed. The heady fragrance transports me to David Lamkin's " Night Jasmine Man" and his mystical and sensuous quest through the land of primal beauty. Always compelling, always Kenya.

Some things makes one feel right at home, and the other sound that signifies home to me, is the very specific rustle of the Giant Strelitzia's leaves. The waxy leaves bang out a bongo beat when battered by the South Easter. It comforts me into snuggle bug mode... Oh yes..forgot to say, the purpose of my recline apart from bread and wine that is, was to plan on where to plant my potted Acers...and so , here I am, due to consider the design implications of my planned urban forest! Maybe they are best left potted, that way I can move my jungle about...sigh...

Dangling not a metre above my reclining self, is a completed weavers nest and alongside it, the beginnings of another. I marvel at the precision engineering that enables it to swing there perfectly safely in the wind. Incidentally, the night before, as I turned over in my bed, I caught a glimpse of the shadows on the wall and there it was, quite clearly....the weavers nest dangling against my bedroom wall. How stunning, to lie in bed and see the shadows dance across my midnight wall.

Now, however, Mr. Weaver was spying me with a sharp shrill bleet from a lofty perch, a ream of my palm tree scrolling from its beak. I am kinda in his way and to close to his construction site. He is now fiercely twittering his disgust for my flagrant disregard of his schedule. But I am not about to be intimidated in my slumbering recline. He decides to risk it and flies into the frame of the chamber, all the while voicing his sheer delight in the pleasure of his engineering feat. He darts of to the palm tree not three metres away to restock on building supplies allowing me a quick sip before he returns.

It astounds me, the speed at which he nips the palm leaves and holding it in his beak simply flies of ripping it off as he goes. I am completely spellbound and such a privileged spectator that I daren't move to sip my wine until he goes to restock. My very own nature channel on tap..sigh...sometimes suburbia is not all that bad!

The Labrador, Smirnoff, lifts his head to regard the commotion with a sad look of despair at the decibels being inflicted upon his afternoon nap. He decides that it is not worth getting up on all fours for to move along and simply flops down with a sigh of resignation.

Spot the deaf, blind diabetic Pug is totally oblivious to the scene and merely stares blindly at the pool trying to figure out safe passage along the paving to the grass in order to find a suitable soft landing for his deposit

Meanwhile, robin redbreast has come across the newly filled birdbath to the right of me and bleeping his delight plunges in with a splatter, sending droplets flying in all directions. It's not often that he has exclusive use of the bathing facilities in this busy bird haven and he is making the best of it while he can. Around the bottom of the birdbath, the head of pest control is noisily foraging among the leaves of Queen of the Night. A large dove that I call Plop the Mop! How he ever gets airborne so rapidly astonishes me! There is new aviation ground...or rather, sky...to be broken here, honestly.

The mossies have decided to move from behind the confined space of the honeysuckle and the office wall to being neighbours to the noisy weavers. The have constructed a large messy platform in stark contrast to the precision engineering of the wavers and I can just imagine what Mrs. Weaver would think of the messy neighbours.

They have quite a colourful assembly above, what with bits of yellow Johannesburg Gold, some red coleus and a bit of orange phorium. The nest has grown quite large in the last two days and they dart back and forth with new bits of colourful lining to add to the decor and for the babes. They sit on their platform taking in Mr. Weaver's antics and seems to be doling out encouragement and advise on how the please the Missus...lol... she ripped the previous nest to shreds!

My Brugmansia is in bloom and the large single white bell nod from behind the Liquidamber tree. With each nod the fragrance is released upon the breeze and sails past in a barley there seductive note. I have a day fragrance and a night fragrance, well until Queen of the Night flowers and then just claims the night entirely.

Nicotiana, selfseeds every year beneath the Liquidamber and is standing stoutly erect in brilliant white. When night has fallen and the earth cools, so will he perfume pervade the starry skies. I promise myself to stake them just as as soon as Weaver is done and the Chenin Blanch is finito, or the South Easter will have them floored in no time at all.

Well, and just as soon as I am done scribbling this note, on some tiny piece of paper pressing on my recipe file, with my glass balancing precariously to the one side of the file, one eye on Mr Weaver and being splashed by robin from the other side..such is the life of a suburban mother, suffering empty nest syndrome, well, not in the tress, you understand, but in the two vacant rooms inside....

However,  the Chenin has put in a fine performance and I am totally relaxed and close my eyes to listen to the surrounding symphony. The crow conductor is squawking the orchestra into tune from atop the roof, the blackbirds are popping up from under the gutter to put in a perfect projection, the doves are cooing from beneath as they patrol the pool paving, almost right in front of the snoring Labrador's nose...the mossies offer some cheery cheeps, robin throws in an aria and percussion is provided by someones  far off thudding knock in DIY mode... tomorrow is another day...sigh...so why waste today's perfect sun...aghuna mata...
....honest confessions of a recovering obsessive gardener/urban sprout....


 Construction continues and I will update you in due course....

Have a fab week

Live Well

Thanks for stopping by and you may leave any confessions of your own in the comment box below.



Joining Mary for Mosaic Monday here
Wow us Wednesday with Kim here at Savvy Southern Style
Homemaker on a Dime for Market your Biz here
White Wedneday at Faded Charm Cottage here
Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer here
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day at Mays Garden here
Fertilizer Friday  at Tootsie Time here
Poutpourri Friday with Honey at 2805 here