Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kindle vs real books...

Let me start off by saying I am a book lover. I was the little girl who's favourite Disney princess was Belle and all I ever wanted was her library.

Nothing will ever feel quite as natural as a real book in my hand. But having said that I am forced to tell you that nothing gets my panties in a bunch quite as much as my books getting damaged (cracked spines, bunny ears, food/drinks spilled, water damage, the list is endless)...and that's bound to happen with all the travelling we do. I am guilty of shoving my book into my handbag while disembarking a plane (resulting in damaged corners), of soaking in a hot bubble bath - book in hand, of spilling water on my book while reading...terrible, I know!!

About 4 years ago my best friend got a kindle and I gave her so much crap about it. I mean nothing can replace the feel and smell of a real book! AND no gadget will ever impress me quite as much as Belle's library did!
I mean, just look at it!!
Now here I am 4 years later and I have my bookshelf filled with my childhood collections, textbooks, a few novels and the latest addition, my kindle.
My bookshelf

The latest addition to the family!

At 14 I was reading at least 1 book every week and eventually when me needing a new book every other week became too much for my mom she got me a library card, I was there at least once a week, in my element!

So what made me decide to buy a kindle you ask?

Well, firstly, I was in Dubai and they were quite cheap because everything was on summer sale, and secondly, we will be moving soon and I will be needing some reading material and even though I will be putting my books in storage for now, eventually I will have to ship them and their beloved bookshelf halfway across the world!

So here is a quick list of my pro's and con's of a kindle vs real books:


  • It's lightweight and compact, smaller than my average book.
  • I can read in the dark without bothering hubby or anyone else with the lights being on.
  • I can store hundreds of books on it. 
  • There are a lot of free books to download for the kindle. 
  •  Kindle ebooks are cheaper than real books and when you buy them online you have them instantly, no delivery time.    
  • It doubles as a tablet, all android apps can be downloaded from the Appstore!
  • I can shove it in my handbag and it won't get bunny ears. 
  • Did I mention that it's really small, I won't be needing a big bookshelf for a while, just my bedside drawer!
  • It took me a while to figure out how to download books ( RTFM Simone!)
  • It doesn't feel as good as a real book.
  • Although the spine won't crack, the screen might if I drop it (I still need to get a cover for it!)
  • If you run out of battery life you have nothing to read.
  • You need an internet connection to download books (which is not a problem for me because hubby can't live without internet but it may be a problem for others).
So as you can see, the con's really aren't that bad and with a little foresight & research you shouldn't have a problem. I for one am loving my kindle and don't regret buying it at all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One week in Dubai - First impressions!

Ok so after typing the title to this post (which just popped into my head), I now have the song "One night in Bangkok" stuck in my head! One night in Bangkok makes the hard man humble la la la lala la la lala la la!

Aaaarrrgghhhhh... I hope you are sharing my pain right now!

Anyway, we left for Dubai from Johannesburg on Friday night and it was madness! I stood in the queue to go through to the terminals for approximately 50 minutes!
Note to self : when we immigrate we will NOT be doing so on a Friday night!
Instagramming because the queue is long and I'm booored as hell!!
We touched down in Dubai at 5am and were out of the airport by about 6:30, we settled in our hotel rooms in the Jumeirah Lake Towers by 7 - I was snug as a bug in a huge bed...exhausted! After a power nap, and a high tech soak in the tub we were on our way to the malls for breakfast and shopping!
High-tech taps - took me a while to figure out...Hot and cold? Nope! Haha turns out you bath according to temperature here!
 We shopped from 11am to 8pm! (Not really though, the malls are like these magical wonderlands that have alot more than just shops and restaurants in them. Our 9 hour "shopping spree" included skiing, watching musical fountains, watching children ice skating and gazing at an aquarium full of ocean critters - all in the Mall of Emirates and the Mall of Dubai!) We caught the metro back to our hotel and got lost between the JLT station and our hotel, it took us about 45 minutes to find our hotel in 40 degrees Celsius humidity, it was so funny!
Ski Dubai, the area where I had my first skiing lesson!

Pretty building outside the Mall of Dubai

Aquarium inside the Mall of Dubai

I can describe my first impression of Dubai in exactly 2 words! Fascinating and humid.
The buildings, architecture and infrastructure fascinate me. It is now 3 days later and I still sit in the taxi gazing out the window in awe. Each and every building is unique, different, beautiful. The only thing that I can think of comparing the diversity of it to is ... people!  Each and every one of us - unique, different, special in our own way - BEAUTIFUL.

This country is beautiful, not only the buildings but the people! The vastly colourful population! Just as fascinating as the buildings! I have done so much people watching in the past 3 days, everywhere we go is so different to anything I have ever experienced. Friendly, helpful people from every corner of the globe populate Dubai.

I can't wait to tell you all about our trip, as soon as I get a free hour, but for now, I think this will do!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Red Velvet Romany Cream Cupcakes

I don't know if they have Romany Creams anywhere other than South it like Peppermint Crisp, that you can only find it here?
Surely there's an alternative out there somewhere!! There has to be in order to make these delicious little monsters!!

For those of you that don't know what a Romany Cream's like one of my most favouritest cookies EVER!! There are a few other cookies that I like more, but they are all home-made. I will be sure to share the recipes...EVENTUALLY!

Romany Creams are the most delightful chocolate coconut cookies that are sandwiched together with a milk chocolate filling. If you dunk them in your tea for a second or two, the chocolate filling melts a little and it tastes like heaven!!

I have tried to make my own Romany Creams but nothing comes close to the real deal! Only the bakers man can!! 

This recipe yields 30 delicious cupcakes all in less than 2 hours!

So this is how it goes:

What you'll need:

2 1/2 Cups of Flour
30 ml Cocoa
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking soda)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Butter (Unsalted, Softened)
1/3 Cup Cooking Oil
2 Cups of Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Milk
30 ml Red Food Colouring
2 tsp Vanilla Essence
+/-15  Romany Cream Cookies

Cream Cheese Vanilla Frosting
250 grams Plain Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Butter/White Margarine
2 tbsp Sour Cream
+/- 600 grams Icing Sugar (Sifted)
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
+/-7 Romany Cream Cookies (Depending on how sweet you like your icing!)
15 Cookies for decorating

How you'll do it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Mix in the sour cream, milk, oil, food colouring and vanilla essence until well blended.
  3. Gradually beat in the flour mixture on a low speed until just blended. Do not over blend.
  4. Crush the cookies until quite fine and stir them into the cupcake batter.
  5. Line your cupcake pans with paper cupcake cups, and spoon the batter into the cups filling each one 2/3rds full.
  6. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes/until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool before icing.
Cream Cheese Vanilla Frosting
Beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar until smooth. Split the 7 cookies and remove the milk chocolate from both sides of each cookie. Pulse the cookies in a blender/food processor until its a really fine crumby consistency. It is important that there are no large chunks of cookie because they will clog the piping tip. Stir the cookie crumbs into the icing. Use a Wilton 1M tip to pipe the icing onto the cupcakes. Cut the remaining cookies in half and place a half cookie on top of each cupcake and Voila! You're done! 30 delicious little monsters waiting to sabotage your diet!! But hey it's all about moderation!

I really hope you enjoy the cupcakes as much as I do!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Top 10 Holiday Destinations

I have a bucket list of holiday destinations that just keeps growing.

Everytime I log onto Pinterest I find another place that "I HAVE TO GO TO!"

The latest place "I have to go to" is Paro Taktsang, Bhutan, I didn't even know this place existed until about a week and a half ago. It is so fascinating, it looks like something out of Mulan (the Disney movie).

So today I am going to share with you the top 10 destinations on my bucket list, these are my be all and end all and if I die having been to these places I will die a happy woman!

Anyway enough of the depressing talk about dying and on to the exciting times ahead!!
Note: Friends and family if you are wondering what to get me for an upcoming birthday, a plane ticket will suffice! *Wink*Wink*Nudge*Nudge*

1. Paris, France
Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to go to France. It is after all where my maiden family name comes from. Ah, a little fishing village in the very South-West of France, Meillon. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to go to Meillon one day, if not, recreating a Lady and the Tramp dinner by candlelight in Paris will do just fine! Merci!

2. New York City (On New Years Eve of course!)

To watch the ball drop at mid-night on New Years Eve, and then kiss my husband and cheers to the inevitably amazing year that lies ahead! A girl can dream right?

3. Venice & Rome, Italy

I think this is one of the most romantic cities in the world! What better way to celebrate an anniversary than to float along a canal in a gondola, make a wish at the Trevi Fountain and take a stroll through Villa D'este, Tivoli. Sì per favore!

4. Phuket, Thailand
Phi Phi Islands, Bangla Road, Full Moon Party, Riding elephants, wake up feeling like I just relived "The Hangover", Snorkeling, and just soaking up some vitamin D with the most beautiful backdrop...Sounds pretty freaking awesome to me!!

5. Santorini, Greece
There is just something about Santorini that is calling my name. I love the uniformity of the white buildings with the blue rooftops. It is breathtakingly beautiful. And it has black sand beaches...How interesting! And just to add in a bit of excitement, it has an active volcano!!

6. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Our surname (Vos) is dutch, Riaan's grandfather was from the Netherlands, so this is must for us. It is another destination that has a personal meaning to us. Also, I would love to ride a bicycle through the tulip fields, pay a visit to Anne Franks House, the Van Gogh Museum and make a stop past the red light district!{Insert big grin emoji here}

7. London, England
Doctor Who has shown us alot of London...but not enough! I want to go there, firstly to see all things HP, Platform 9 3/4 and all the rest!!! Also to see Buckingham Palace, where Lady Di lived (I did love her when I was a little girl, she was a real live princess!). There are so many places to go in London I really doubt that I need to list them here, the list is exhaustive.

8. Australia
One of my best friends - Caitlin - lives here. Oh, and then there's the great barrier reef and a naturally pink lake!! Enough said!

9. New Zealand

Hobbiton, I mean seriously! We have to go there!! Besides for that I would love to just explore the natural beauty that this country has to offer, go on hikes and explore it is amazingness!

10. Switzerland

To stroll through Lucern eating Swiss chocolate and visit the gargantuan castles. To snuggle up in front of a roaring fire at night while sipping on Swiss Hot chocolate, go skiing in the Swiss Alps, eat lots of Swiss chocolate, build a snowman and make snow angels! This sounds like the most perfect winter wonderland holiday if ever there was one!! Oh and did I mention the Swiss chocolate???

So that's that, my top 10 holiday destinations! What are your top 10 holiday destinations?

Note: All photos (except for the first one) were sourced from pinterest, I do not claim title to, or own any of the photos.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Packing for a business trip to Dubai

I am one of those people that are lucky enough to have a job that has allowed me to travel.

Sometimes to lovely places like Mozambique and Cape Town.

Other times to not so lovely Angola.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some undeniably beautiful places in Angola, as there are in Mozambique and Cape Town. I will eventually share all my travels with you, but this post is dedicated to Dubai!!

Most definitely the most exciting trip I will go on for my company!

This time next week instead of tapping away at my keyboard I will be packing my suitcase and making sure that I have everything I may need for a week in Dubai!
 I have checked the weather forecast and it says I can expect highs of 43 and lows of 32 degrees, 43 degrees Celsius!!! Oh my soul, I think I might just melt while we are there!!!

Since Dubai is a conservative country being Muslim and all, I will mostly be packing clothes that are modest and considerate of the local culture - itsy bitsy outfits are a no no! Shoulders and legs should preferably be covered up when in public areas.

You might be asking "Why would you want to pack itsy bitsy outfits for a business trip?", well the answer is simple really, my boss is like no other! We will undoubtedly be visiting at least one night club while we are there and not to mention we have a full Saturday there before we start working....I'm thinking...BEACH!!!

These are the most important items on my packing list so far:
Sunblock and a sun hat - for when we are on the beach or strolling the streets, its bound to be a scorcher at 43 degrees!!
  1. Light weight scarf - to cover up shoulders, or just as an accessory, whatevs really, I like scarves!
  2. A pair of black pants, black leggings/tights, a black pencil skirt, and a pair of denims - these items are versatile and can be mixed with any top/blouse.
  3. A pair of black heel and a pair of wedges - versatile items.
  4. A few blouses - light-weight blouses and button up tops.
  5. A smart jacket/cardigan - since all of the buildings are air-conditioned it might get a bit chilly indoors.
  6. A bikini and a sarong - for the beach of course!
  7. A pair of sandals and a pair of closed flat shoes for walking the mall in comfort - the shops in Dubai male close LATE! I'm talking like 11pm, so there will be plenty of time to (window) shop after work.
  8. A beanie and gloves - we are making a definite stop over at Ski Dubai! I cant wait!!!
  9. Dresses/skirts of a flowy material - lightweight and versatile for day or evening wear.
  10. Accessories - Necklaces, earrings, bracelets and bangles!
  11. Gym clothing and running shoes - a must for any trip!
  12. A good book - hopefully while I'm there I'll get myself a kindle! I love a real book but a kindle is travel friendly and compact.
  13. And last but not least...Gadgets - Smartphone, camera, ipod, laptop, and chargers for all of them!

So hopefully while I'm there I will be able to squeeze in a post or two with a few photos and a maybe a word or ten! Haha!

If you have been to Dubai before and know of something that I'm missing please tell me about it in the comments section!

A Weekend of Wining and Dining

Ok so I was so busy this weekend that I didn't even get a chance to bake! Bummer!! But I did get a chance to do was spend some quality time with my amazing hubby and our awesome friends!!

On Friday afternoon Riaan had to work late (sis! I mean, who does that??), so once he was done we decided that we were in no mood for cooking and that we should go out for dinner on a mini date night - we haven't done that in ages!!!

So we missioned off to Emperors Palace for some delicious Col'cacchios Pizza, they seriously make the best pizzas if you are into loads of toppings!! Which I am!

For me a pizza should be less base and more toppings...the more the merrier! So a half-half pizza is right up my alley! If you know Riaan, you would know that (and I am saying this in the most lovingly way possible) he is the most indecisive person EVER when it comes to ordering food at a restaurant! Which is great actually because we usually end up ordering 2 meals and sharing!

We started off with some frozen margaritas, YUM!

Closely followed by delicious pizza! I obviously opted for the half half option, both which had lots of chicken and avo (best combination ever)!

As you can see, they are not shy with the toppings!

On Saturday we woke up to an overcast sky and miserable raindrops tapping on the window, not the best weather for a river-side wine tasting adventure!

We met up at about 12 and we set-off on our 100km road trip to the Vaal!
The first tasting venue was a kind of heritage museum, with a few interesting displays of what the old school Vall Triangle was like!

After tasting 6 wines we decided to move on to the next venue, it was so lovely there last year, we sat alongside the river sipping on wine in the sunshine. This year however we were not allowed to sit outside due to the impending rain! Ah Damn! But that didn't stop us from venturing down to the river for a few photos!!

The venue had quite a cosy feel to it, I can just imagine sitting there around a roaring fire roasting marshmallows in the middle of winter. Since we aren't partial to white wine we decided to only taste the red wines at this venue.

As it would happen, we enjoyed ourselves so much at our first two venues that we didn't make it to any more thereafter!

Until next time...Peace Out!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kickass Carb-Free Chilli Beef Lettuce Wraps

Ok so this is my absolute most favouritest way to cook beef mince!  It's just amazeballs! 

Beside the fact that it's super tasty and easy to make, the best part about it is that it only takes 10 minutes to make!

Carb Free Chilli Beef Lettuce Wraps
We adapted the recipe from Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course.

It's a great dish for a hot summer night, when you want something fresh and light!

This recipe makes a good serving for 2 - 3 people, along with a side of your choice, we usually have ours with a salad or veggies.

What you're gonna need:

Olive oil for frying
400 - 450g lean beef mince
1 tbsp Toasted sesame oil for frying
1 – 2 red chillis – finely chopped
A sprinkle of ground ginger
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or 1 heaped teaspoon of crushed garlic)
1 tbsp brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lime/lemon
Salt, Black Pepper and "Steak and Chop Spice"
2 little gem lettuce separated into leaves

Sweet and spicy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 – 2 tsp durky sauce
1/2 chopped chilli (leave the seeds in for extra heat)
The juice of 1/2 a lime

How you're gonna do it:

Heat a large frying pan and add a little olive oil to warm. Season the mince with salt, pepper and steak and chop spice and mix to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed.

Fry the mince in the hot pan for five to seven minutes until crisp and brown and broken down to a fine consistency.

Drain the crispy mince in a sieve and set it aside – this will help it stay crispy.

Using the same pan, add a tablespoon of sesame oil, the garlic, ginger, chilli and sugar and fry for about 2 minutes - Don't burn it!

Add the drained mince and stir it up.

Add the lemon juice and zest and heat through. Stir for about thirty seconds. Turn off the heat.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a sauce jug and adjust to taste.

To serve, spoon some of the mince mixture into the lettuce leaves, please for the love of all things grown in the earth, wash your lettuce leaves before you use them!! Haha! Drizzle with a little dressing and dig in to the most amazeballs lettuce wraps ever!!

I know a picture is worth a thousand words but pictures seriously don't do this dish justice!!