Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Hi friends :)

I hope you're beginning to thaw out if you're in the north and embracing the cooler weather and falling leaves if you're in the south. Here in Johannesburg, it's technically autumn already, but the weather is in this magnificent phase where it's warm during the day and cool at night, and we're still getting summer thunderstorms. It's lovely.

I celebrated my 25th birthday almost two weeks ago. I have to be honest, the day started and ended so wonderfully, but everything in between...well, just didn't feel like a birthday. My husband of almost four months (after getting about four hours of sleep because of studying for a test he had ON my birthday) excitedly woke me up with hugs and kisses and the best smile and presents. He made me coffee and made me feel like March 14th was the most exciting day yet!

The company I work for throws this massive bash each year (approximately 1,000 people), which happened to be on my birthday this year. That's not so bad in-and-of-itself, but we were so busy helping set up and prepare (starting at 7am) that I just kind of forgot throughout the day that it was my birthday.

I got home from all of this at about 8:15pm and husband got home from his exam at about 8:30pm. We got Thai take-away and sat on the couch, eating and talking. (And sometimes just starring into space or at each other, as we were both exhausted.) But there was no one better to do that with. :)

So, I finally did a bit more to celebrate, by going to a French bakery this past weekend with some friends:

Petit Fours. Charming, Enchanting, Pink, Delicious!

Here are a few pictures of the end of my first quarter-century and the start of hopefully another 25. :)


Friends :)

Second moms.

Nicole - one of my bridesmaids and best friends here in SA.

Monika, my new American friend!

Choosing two was hard enough. I easily could have chosen four. (Left: red velvet cake...honestly the best I have ever had! Right: Shortbread cake with dark and white chocolate.)

Nix chose a savory quiche.

Sorry it's blurry. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Welcome to town

Over the past month or so, I've been discovering downtown Johannesburg like I've never seen it before. I first wrote about town here - and explained what is wrong with downtown at the moment; but how I found a diamond in the rough. Again, I mentioned town here, after yet another fabulous downtown discovery.

As I have boldly ventured into downtown Johannesburg more and more, I have also taken note of what fantastic architecture and art there is! I wanted to share some of the photos I've taken of this. Hopefully, as more and more of downtown Joburg is refurbished and rejuvenated, we will see more and more great pieces of art and history.

Come visit and I'll show you around!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Our Wedding - the ceremony, part 3

Yay, we're finally wrapping up the ceremony! Part 1 of our ceremony pictures showed the processional and Gordon and I first seeing each other; Part 2 showed the message and exchange of rings. In this final post about the ceremony, you'll see the signing of the registrar, the kiss (yay!), and some moments of celebration.

I really hope you enjoy them and get a sense of what a happy event it was! It sure makes me happy just looking at them. :)


What is going on here, you may ask. In South Africa, you must sign the marriage registrar during the ceremony, and you must sign it under a roof of some sort. So that's what we're doing. I like to think of it as our William and Kate moment. (Did you watch their wedding? You know when they went into another room during the ceremony to sign the marriage certificate? Yeah, that's us here. :)

Just a really great picture taken during the ceremony that I love! This is Nicole, one of my bridesmaids; Paige, my maid of honor; and one of my flower girls, Gaby. Nicole's mom, Michelle, is the one smiling in the background, on the left.

"You may now kiss your bride."

I don't really have a great comment or explanation for this. I just loved this picture and this moment. 

Yay, we're married!

Hugs and celebrating afterwards! 

Me, Gordon's mom, Gordon's grandma, Gordon.

Me and my brother.

Love this. Me and my mom.

Me with my parents. And notice G showing off his ring in the background. :)

How precious is this?! My new husband and one of our flower girls. He's going to be such a great day. :)

Next up: the party!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cupcake decorating / the best Groupon ever

How was your weekend? The weather is changing very quickly here in Joburg, from summer to autumn, which provided a lovely blend of sun and cool breeze this weekend (and at the moment: a dreary mix of clouds, mist, and cold). And the husband and I went on a date to a new, Thai restaurant (new to us) in Nelson Mandela Square and had such a wonderful time. We needed a catch-up.

Really cool lanterns hanging from the ceiling of Wangthai.

I promised a post on a cupcake decorating class last week and I did not deliver. My apologies. But here it is! :)

Two weekends ago, myself and three friends used a Groupon, purchased long ago, for a cupcake decorating class. The plan was to do a mother-daughter excursion when my mom was in town for our wedding, but things were just too busy. So, I took my mother-in-law along. :) We were all excited about the class but also had no idea what to expect. Well, six cupcakes and almost four hours later, I have to say: this was arguably the best Groupon I have ever bought.

The Johannesburg Culinary & Pastry School is an absolute delight and gives you a true culinary education and experience. The school, owned and run by Kelvin and Jarlyne Joel, provides group courses, couples classes, and exquisite cooking experiences that are fun, practical, and delicious! Our cupcake class, although we reviewed the red-velvet cupcake recipe that was used, focused on decorating. We learned techniques for frosting, sugar details, and chocolate shaping that I can totally do at home! The ingredients aren't exotic or expensive. The techniques take practice, but can be strongly acquired after not much time. Kelvin taught our class - it was an interactive, friendly, and enlightening experience. Also, The JCP School is ANOTHER cool part of town! Who knew downtown Johannesburg was so rapidly chaning?!

Really, I could keep raving, but just look at the pictures or sign up for a class yourself!

Bon appetit!

The JCP School kitchen.

The school also serves cookies and cappuccinos to munch on, while you watch a class or read cooking books.

Nicole and I making red-velvet cupcakes. Kelvin, our chef/instructor, said he first learned of red-velvet cupcakes while working at Hyatt in America. He had never seen them before that; so, he was quite interested to hear what I thought of his recipe - it was great! :) 

Second mom, Michelle, and my mom-in-law, Charmaine.

Kelvin showing us how to create chocolate garnishes. Here, he mixed white and milk chocolate and spread it finely on parchment paper, then left it to harden.

Abstract shapes.

Of course, we had to taste a piece - or two. 

Perfect red-velvet cupcakes!

More chocolate garnishes. Here, Kelvin uses a tool to create squiggles in the chocolate before it dries. Then, when it does dry, you've got chocolate snake-like garnishes. (It's very cool - see cupcake below.)

He also showed us that if you add a certain type of baking "dust", you can add color to your chocolate. Upon letting it dry, you get a matte and a gloss look to the chocolate.

Ok, I don't know what you call this technique, but it's so cool and you end up with the extremely sweet, fishing-line-thin, caramel ball you see at the bottom. 

Three of the cupcakes I decorated. The techniques we learned can give you pretty abstract designs, but I think with more practice, I could create something...well, not so abstract. :)

My cupcakes. :) You must go!!