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So, I had a really depressing couple of days. My boyfriend is suddenly in defense mode, and I’m left wondering what the hell is going on. So what do I do? I bake.
Before things got strange, he had challenged me to repurpose some orange pulp that was left over from him using his new juicer. I had a hell of a time finding orange cake recipes (which was what I initially had in mind) so I decided to use a yellow cake recipe that I keep on standby, but added an extra 1/2 cup of flour to my plan.
First, I needed to create the orange glaze I intended to use. I could have tried to make the cake itself more orange in flavor, but without actual orange juice I knew it was going to be tough. I took about a cup of the pulp and a cup and a half of water and brought it to a boil on the stove. I cut some of the rinds into long strips (for whatever reason, my boyfriend hadn’t tossed them yet) and added them to the mixture. The fruit naturally has pectin in it, and I wanted to maximize the jelly like state it would cause the glaze to go into. Once it was boiling, I added a 1/2 cup of sugar, a tablespoon of vanilla essence, and a cup of rum (this can be more or less to taste).
I let it cook for an hour with the lid on. Towards the end, I used a wooden spoon to “smoosh” the orange peels, so I’d get more pectin out of it. I could tell it was a slightly thicker consistency, which was perfect.
When I was done cooking it, I added 1/4 cup margarine and 3/4 cups of icing sugar, and stirred it well…..along with another dash of rum (I can’t help that I’m a rum girl). I put the mixture to the side to cool.
I went ahead and make my cake batter from a standard yellow cake recipe. I added 6 heaping soup spoonfuls of the glaze mix (I was experimenting at this point) to counteract the extra flour. I was hoping that it would help make the cake extra moist. After pouring the batter into a square pan, I added 5 spoonfuls of the glaze into the batter, and swirled it around with a knife.
Ok, so I stuck the cake in the oven and baked it about 50-55 minutes (until I inserted a toothpick and it came out rather clean).
I let it cool off, then popped it out onto a dish. I did not flip it over, because I wanted the orange swirl to be upwards….besides it looked nicer. Once I had it on the dish, I started spooning large amounts of the glaze over the top and near the edges of the cake. Think of it as “basting” the cake in the glaze. I had several hours before the cake was going to be served, so I wanted to to soak in the orange goodness in the meantime. By the time I was done, the cake had a nice thick layer of glaze, and I could see it being soaked in the crevices and along the bottom of the cake. It smelled awesome.
Afterwards, I made my version of a cornish pie (because we didn’t have half the stuff I needed) by browning beef (seasoned with mixed herbs), and sauteed some carrots, onions, celery (also seasoned with mixed herbs). I spooned the browned beef into the bottom of a pyrex pan, followed by the layer of veggies. Then, I chopped up some tomatoes and layered them on top of the veggies. I put that to the side and made mashed potatoes (with butter, a cup of milk and more mixed herbs and salt/pepper to taste- I wanted it a slightly soupy consistency). I threw in an egg and mixed it all together, then poured/spooned it over the rest of the layers. Added some thin pieces of cheddar cheese on top and made a cute decoration with thinly sliced tomatoes….and viola! Popped that bad boy in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180 c. It came out perfect.
I’ve had a really confusing day, and the emotions I’m feeling are almost crushing me.
Last night was the first night in a week that I actually got to sleep in the same bed as my boyfriend, due to his kids being here. Their mom picked them up yesterday morning, so I was looking forward to the alone time.
We had a great night. We watched some movies, shared some cuddle time, and went to bed late as ever. Fast forward to this morning….I felt a weird vibe from him. Eventually, it prompted me to ask him if he was still ok with the relationship. He hesitated, and started to tell me how he got used to not sleeping next to me the past week, and it was weird to share the bed again. I asked if he meant good weird or bad weird….then changed my question to “would you rather sleep alone?”.
And he said “I think so”.
Now, I know that doesn’t mean he wants to break up and all. So I didn’t panic. But I did ask him if he really wanted me there, because I had been staying with him for a couple of weeks. He proceeded to tell me that he felt like he didn’t have much space, and that he felt bad that I did so much cooking and cleaning, as well as watching his kids.
I thought about this, and told him that it made sense to me to keep the house in order etc because there’s no reason he should work 10+ hours and have to come home to do domestic things (at least, not while I’m there). And as far as the kids went, the alternative would have been them going with him to the office all day. That would have been boring for them, and distracting for him. I also reasoned that it would be important to bond with them, in the event we did take this relationship further.
He agreed with me. But in the back of my mind, I was wondering how a relationship can go further if he feels crowded? How many couples would function while sleeping in separate rooms?
I asked him if he wanted to take me home, and he said that he knew I wanted to be there (and that it allowed me to get work done). I asked him the question again, pointing out that I wasn’t asking what he thought I wanted. He never really answered me.
So, I’m confused as hell. He tells me he loves me, but then shows few signs of being able to handle a real relationship (due to his traumatic marriage and divorce). I even asked him directly if he was ready for a relationship, and he said he wasn’t sure….but cited finances as a reason. I know it’s something deeper than that, because once I am working again full time that would eliminate that issue.
Not sure what to do. But despite the 8 hours of sleep I was able to get, I feel totally exhausted with zero attention span. I ended up sleeping a few hours in the afternoon….and no, not in his bed.
I obviously need to tell him how I feel, but every time I try he clams up. Partially because he feels confronted, partially because he feels guilty. He’ll listen, but not really say how he feels in response. I’ve never met a more emotionally defensive person, but I understand why he’s that way.
I guess I’ll try this sleeping separately thing. But I’m struggling with the idea of just telling him I want to put the relationship on ice for now, because I can’t settle for just some aspects of it. If we’re talking about sleeping alone and feeling crowded….how can this honestly go anywhere?
I see a husband in him, and a lifelong best friend. He’ll be my best friend regardless, but at some point I’ve got to decide what’s more logical. I’ve met him more than half way; I’ve crossed half of the world. But if he can’t understand how much I’ve risked and come out of his fortress a little…..I can’t keep this up too long.
I recently had to create some business cards for my crafts business (that I’m trying to start) and balked at some of the prices that were quoted by some companies. A friend of mine had suggested I look into Vistaprint, as she had used them for her photography business. She assured me that she found a great price, so I took some time to look into it.
Right away I took notice of the very reasonable prices (expecting a catch, of course) but decided to order a set of cards along with a stamp and address labels. IT was nice to be able to customize them multiple ways. I came to the part where I had to check out, and was beyond pleased with the final price.
I have to admit, I was entirely shocked with how fast my order came! Everything came as detailed, and was great quality. I’ve already been seeing a difference in the volume of response I’m getting, which is crucial for me considering that I’m trying to gain some consumers for a new business venture. I will certainly have to order from them again!
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*Entry inspired by the awesome people at VistaPrint. Many thanks!!!
So…. one thing I’ve learned since coming to South Africa is that maids and other domestic workers are very common here. Most of my friends here have a domestic worker (or several), as well as most of their friends and families. Now I know some people back home in the US might raise an eyebrow at it, I realized it kinda makes sense.
South Africa struggles with a very present 30% unemployment rate (last I heard, but it’s pretty much stuck around 25-30% constantly), most of which is a largely low skilled group. Post Apartheid there was a large amount of skilled workers that left due to the “affirmative action” that is still in place. Basically, they give preference to people with a degree of “blackness”, as well as females and those with disabilities. They are allowed to say flat out in ads that the applicant MUST be black to be considered. I’ve also seen the opposite, where people state they will only hire whites. Only problem is, they do not take skill level as much into consideration. Many people just got fed up and left.
With the idea that it’s better to make up jobs and keep people off of the streets (in an effort to reduce the high crime rates out here) there have been many “bs” jobs created to allow more people to become employed. Think of your standard parking garage, for example. You drive in, press a button, and get a ticket. Most garages I’ve come across have a machine you later insert the ticket into BEFORE you leave to pay for the time you’ve been there. Then you get in your car and drive to the exit, where you would normally just put the ticket in another slot so the arm lifts to allow you out. Here, I commonly see some person standing (or leaning) against the spot where the slot is, so you hand the ticket to them and they put it in for you. Think about that. Someone is paid to just put the ticket in the machine. But, that person is employed and (logically) is kept off of the streets.
Back to the domestic workers. So, if it wasn’t so common to have domestic workers, there would be a lot of people that would otherwise be jobless due to lack of any other skills. Seeing how many people I personally know that have one, I don’t want to even imagine how large that number would be.
My boyfriend has both a maid and a gardener. They only come by on Saturday, but he treats them well. They can make whatever food they want (though, sometimes go overboard with it) and he drives them both home afterwards so they can safely get in before it’s dark. This is more so for the maid than the gardener, because she lives in a a squatter camp, and apparently there are a lot of people being murdered after dark there.
I took this particular shot of the maid’s (Martha) home when we dropped her off last week. Squatter camps like these are very common, and there are designated areas (typically rural) where people are allowed to set up a shack to live in for free. There is usually running water and electricity provided, so it’s not as barbaric as it might sound. I’ve also heard of people having normal appliances like a fridge or stove.
Not too long after I arrived in the country, I recall being told a story by my friends’ uncle about his own domestic worker (who also lived in a squatter camp). His workers’ daughter had a pretty well-paying job in the medical field. She still lived in a squatter camp with her mom and the rest of her family, because it was home to her. She even had a shack built to house her Porsche.
And, that’s another thing I’ve learned since here. Her situation is not unique. There are many that will choose to be around family over the luxury they can afford. Plus I guess it’s a bonus to live rent-free? My boyfriend’s gardener told me a couple of weeks ago how he and his family have this amazing property about two hours away…..but most times he’s working and living in a shack locally, and just sending the money back home. Another common scenario…..
I guess these are just examples in one belief I do have…..money isn’t everything, nor are material things.
So, my personal situation has put me in a rather interesting situation.
For those who haven’t yet read the previous posts, here’s a summary: I decided to take a leap of faith and go from the US to South Africa to meet someone I met through an online game. Sounds corny, but it gets better. We’ve now known each other 3 years, so I made the choice to take it a big step further to see how well we get on in person. Long story short, it was totally worth every bit of stress and heartache. However, my situation changed.
Originally, I was going to go for 3 months, then go back to work in the US and then we’d see what the next step would be. Somewhere in the middle of that 3 months, we both decided 3 months was not going to suffice. So I took a risk and applied for temporary residency.
So that leaves me….jobless, and on a very limited (and slowly depleting) budget.
I don’t have the means for a work permit quite yet, nor do I really have any solid offers. So what do I do?
Eventually, it dawned on me that the whole work from home industry has supposedly been growing. However, finding legitimate work was almost impossible last time I checked into it. But, I decided to look into it again.
After doing some research, I stumbled on a blog mentioning oDesk.com (bear in mind, I’m strictly telling this from personal experience, not for compensation). I was a bit skeptic, but I did a lot of reading on the site and found that it was actually perfect for my situation.
It basically takes a bunch of skilled contractors (IT techs, writers, customer service wizards etc) and allows them to try to bid on jobs that clients have listed on the site. Before I go any further, let me say this: when you’re new to oDesk and don’t have any feedback yet, it’s hard as hell to find anything. However, there are plenty of tiny jobs that pay little that you can bid on to gain a rep and some experience.
Now, most of these jobs expect people to work them for a low hourly or fixed rate. So, don’t expect it to be an instant financial solution…..but if you’re unemployed or find yourself anchored to a foreign country (like me), it could be a means to something. But, I have seen contractors who are actually working full time on there and making a decent wage.
Luckily for me, the South African currency is shit, so a lower pay rate is fine with me. Plus, in time I’d be able to demand more (hopefully).
Anyway, it’s not for the lazy types, and takes a lot of patience. But, I’ve finally snagged something part time that will help get the financial ball rolling. Thank God, I was getting scared.
In any case, that’s good for me, because I’d hate to keep seeing money going in one direction (out of my pocket). I still have a lot I want to do in South Africa, like surprise my love with a trip to Cape Town one weekend, or go to see the Drakensburg Mountains for an overnight trip. I’d love to get a nice secluded place to stay and spend some time with him away from it all.
Alright, no more sappiness. I hope you all have a great day. It’s super late here, and I have to get up in a few hours to get ready for the one moment I have been dreading….coming face to face with the evil ex wife.
Don’t ask about the names; I didn’t give them. But this is my favorite picture of this trio.
This is Piper, one of the two toy poms that tend to stalk me at my friend’s house. I have a plethora of pictures of all six of the dogs on the property, so be prepared for many more over time.
So, it’s a horribly windy South African early morning, and I can’t sleep. Plus, it’s my boyfriend’s son’s 12th birthday today. So, what else can I do at 5 am? Bake a cake and make some fruit and jelly parfaits to surprise him with at dinner time.
But, truth be told, I learned that I was becoming a bit of an insomniac when I have to sleep alone.
The mildly awkward part of this relationship, especially with it going against the grain somewhat for this man and his somewhat traditional family, is that I have to sleep in the daughter’s bedroom, while the kids sleep in the bed with him.
Now, I don’t mind it. It’s already weird that they’ve (the children) easily accepted me coming to visit, let alone staying for a short while with their dad. I’ve been staying with a friend about 60km away, so it hasn’t been a lot of me staying with him. It would go against the idea that both him and I have agreed upon: no need to rush things.
However, two weeks ago I found myself being stressed by my home environment. My boyfriend felt it would be better for me to have a change of scenery, and advised he’d be picking me up that night. I expected to stay a couple of days…..but it’s slowly been turning into an extended stay with no talk of me going home.
I don’t want to delve into too much, but the love of my life is a classic example of someone having been hurt, just to carry that pain into his next relationship. It’s been a very trying journey to be able to have patience for the past couple of years, and to maintain a level of understanding.
So, things as little as me staying for a while, let alone spending time with the loved ones, seems simple to some but are a huge deal to me.
And…..here I am, at (now) 7 am, trying to hide a mint cake with chocolate frosting as well as the chocolate cherry parfaits for a little surprise after dinner. I have to admit that it makes me pretty darn happy, even if I haven’t been to bed yet 🙂