Friday, July 29, 2011

Attacked by fear.

Funny how fast it happens.

One minute I'm at a high, seeing that opportunities are opening for me.

And then... fear hits. Not just something like being afraid of spiders or mice, but rather a fear of failure. A distant memory that becomes more real because I'm repeating exactly the same subject as the one that is without a doubt, the greatest failure in my life.

It takes hold and suddenly all of my thoughts turn in, focusing on the fear.

Then starts the whorl. My thoughts start to chase their tails, running around in circles about one axis: the fear.

It completely paralyses me, filling me with even more fears, because fear breads. Splits and multiplies like a cancerous cell.

I don't know where I would have ended up if not for a little voice. One that said:

"Misha! Quickly, think of a flower." 

My reactions was identical yours now: Huh?! 

And that was the point. God gave me the ammunition I needed to shoot fear down. Because He made me snap out of the destructive thinking pattern to something different. From there I could wrest control back over my thoughts and control how I would think about my worries.

Most of the original thoughts were valid, but the ones that came after weren't. Once I knew that, I could look at my situation and list solutions.

And you know what? The first solution was the best in the end.

Now I feel like I have a grip on one fifth of my Exam marks when I'm writing exams (one third during my test). I will gain the upper hand over this subject lecturer by lecturer. And I won't fail this again. I'll make it a massive success, smile at everyone who says that I should do honors, and walk away into the rest of my life.

Fear is not going to get a lasting grip on me now.

What about you? Ever got hit by fear? How did you deal with it?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just like that, things fall into place.

Things are still going insane around me as I try to settle into my new schedule. But they will be better. Especially once I've caught up on the classes I missed because the blasted webmaster put up the wrong dates. >_<

That aside, I now have to take my solo-singing classes on Wednesdays. Which is why I got some awesome news today.

See, I'm still trying to figure out how to crack into the music scene.

And today, the way was handed to me on a platter. I was asked to write the story for a musical. ^_^

I'm so excited! Especially given the fact that the project will only start after I finished my degree. The timing couldn't be more perfect. And I'd love to get a look at how a musical is born.

Still, a lot of things can happen in a few months, but I'm carefully optimistic, because if I can get this experience, it might prove vital to my career. AND it mixes two of my dreams: writing and drama. Perfect.

Now it's just the wait to November.

What about you? Anyone else feeling themselves one step closer to your dreams?

Monday, July 25, 2011

South African Food Part 2: Sweet Treats

After a long wait, I finally have the post on South African Sweet Treats.

Like the braai, there will be more than one opinion on what makes up the basis of our sweets, so I decided to share some of my favorites. Please note that clicking on the pictures will lead you to recipes. :-)

First up is this:

Milk tart is very similar to custard tarts, except that the milk to egg ratio is much higher, which results on a lighter texture and a milkier taste. The consistency tends to vary from recipe to recipe, with the biggest difference coming from the way in which the tart it made. Some milk tarts are made by baking the pastry and the filling at the same time (my favorite), others are made by baking the pastry and filling it with a ready made "custard" and putting it in the fridge. The former results in a fluffy, mousse-like texture. The latter in a smooth, more set tart. The second largest source of difference comes from the crust/pastry. Talk about variation. I have to admit that I'm not a fan of this crust, so if you're dead serious about a truly divine recipe, let me know and I'll send you one.

Next on the menu is Malva Pudding.

Named after Malvasia wine from Madeira. In the olden days the wine and the pudding were served together as dessert. Nowadays we're not that fussy. I like my pud with custard, but it can also be served with cream or vanilla ice cream. All varieties are yummy, because Malva pudding has a caramel taste.

Then there's Souskluitjies, which are dumplings in a cinnamon sauce.

The origins of this yummy dish seems pretty unclear. Some say it's from Persia by way of the Netherlands. Others say it was brought to South Africa by German migrants. I'm not all too fussed. Now when I have the scent of warmed cinnamon wafting through the house.

Now on to my small treats. Starting with my (an almost everyone's) favorite:

The Koeksister. In a way, this is the South African take on doughnuts, except it's consistency on the inside is more like a croissants than bread. Basically it's made by braiding the dough and deep frying them before letting them seep in a cold sugar syrup. The perfect koeksister is neither too sweet nor too bland and must be juicy and crispy at the same time. Now THIS is the one I hope that my foreign blogger friends will try. (And a milk tart.) Incidentally, this is another dish of Malayan origin, although it's less spicy.

Then there are the jam tartlets:

Jan Smutsies, named after Jan Smuts, one of the most prominent statesmen in our history. He was one of the key founding members of the League of Nations and is the only person to sign the charters for both the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Hertzoggies, named after General J.B.M. Hertzog.

Both Smuts and Hertzog were prime ministers in South Africa, but apparently the supporters of each only ate the confection named after them. Fortunately I don't have to make that choice. Basically, the bases of both these cakes are the same, as are the jam fillings (ALWAYS apricot). The difference comes in the toppings. Jan Smutsies have a top very similar to the base, while Hertzog toppings are made of a sugary coconut mixture.

So there you have it. A crash course on South African sweet treats, there are more (we have sweet teeth), but I think I managed to pick out the highlights for you.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Now I quickly want to ask. Are you guys interested in one more food post?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sometimes, life just gets in the way.

Sigh... Looks like the best of intentions sometimes go to pot. I really wanted to post about South African Desserts, but I got busy on Friday and it didn't feel right to pull myself away from my writing. So I said I'd post on Saturday, but then some of my family's friends came for a visit and stayed the whole day.

It was wonderful to see them again for the first time in almost two months.

And that just reminded me of something.

Sometimes, life is more important than writing about it. Just like it's actually more important to write, than it is to write about writing.

I sometimes forget this.

So I'll do the post on Monday and take today off, because I have a lot of preparations to do for my first youth church as one of the leaders.

May you have a peaceful and blessed Sunday! See you all tomorrow!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

South African food, Part 1

Well, today I'm going to do something a bit out of the ordinary. One of my blogging friends asked me to write a guest post about South African food. Unfortunately, I doubt I'll ever be invited to post about food, so I promised him that I'll post about it on TCoML.

So here I am. Unfortunately, South African heritage comes from a variety of cultures, so I can't really do a single catch-all post about it. 

Instead, I might end up doing a series. Not a long one, but one that I can say is a summary of our food. I might even ask some of my South African friends for help. 

Anyway the first point of departure when it comes to our cuisine: Meat is the foundation. As such, I will give you an introduction to one food tradition that actually has a day of its own in my country: 

The Braai. 

If you think I'm crazy, click on the picture. 

Alright then. The above picture pretty much shows what braai-ing looks like. Basically a barbecue, except that we NEVER braai burgers. The only refined sort of meat to feature on a braai is the sausage in the picture above. 

This, however, is NEVER referred to as sausage. 

It is called boerewors. (Directly translated: Farmers Sausage, but it doesn't go by another name.) Recipes for boerewors vary, but usually it's made out of (hopefully) coarsely minced beef with spices. The spices vary. Because of this, we actually have competitions to see who can make the best boerewors, because the difference in spices and amounts can change the taste. 

Then we have the meat: chops, steaks, ribs etc. One can also braai snoek (which is a fish). The picture will take you to a recipe. 

And then we have sosaties, kebabs of Malayan origin. See? I told you we have a varied food culture. Anyway, there are many recipes. The meat can be beef, mutton, chicken or a combination of the three. With or without onions, bay leaves etc. The marinade varies into infinity, but the picture links to a recipe for Cape Malay Curried Lamb sosaties. 

In the midst of all these proteins, we do make allowance for carbohydrates. We have mixed and potato salads, but  most importantly, we have braaied sandwiches (involving cheese in some way) or breads with preserves, or pap. 

Pap comes from the dutch word for porridge or gruel, and comes in various consistencies. My favorite pap is krummelpap (crumble porridge, also never referred to as such). We don't actually add corn to our pap, but this picture leads to a handy recipe - if you ignore their efforts to Anglicize the name. 

In the picture above, the red stuff is tamatiesmoor (apparently also called sheba sauce, this I am willing to accept), a home made tomato sauce with onions and sometimes sugar. The site the picture above links to, also links to the sauce, which I suggest you try with pap at least once in your life. Anyway, the smoor is mixed with the pap and eaten with the meat. 

And there you have it. Our braai main course. If you guys are interested, I'll go into dessert on Friday. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

My new passtime

I've recently decided to take up jogging.

It's a great way to spend more energy and it makes me feel good once I finished it.

Of course, I am using the term "jogging" rather loosely. I'm currently walking more than I am jogging, but I'm following a plan that I found on the Internet, and apparently I'll be running in about eight weeks.

For now, I'm doing three sequences of 6 mins walking and 1 min jogging. I'll do it two more times this week. Next week it will be 5 mins walking and 2 jogging. And so on.

I think it's a great way to start, easing my way into it and building my strength and stamina. Much better than hurting myself in the attempt and not running again for months.

Also, it's worth mentioning that I'm doing a lot more exercise by this run/walk method than when I was running and quitting too soon afterwards.

So, who else took up running? How did you start? How are you doing?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where I squee like a fangirl...

Today I don't really have much to say, except that they played this on the radio today and I sat up to pay attention. Dare I say it? Yes I can, being as I am actually a rocker.

Here goes. I LOVE this cover more than the original. 

What do you guys think? Awesome? Not as good as Adele?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dream Three

Sorry that I skipped yesterday. On Tuesday, I got hit by such a deep feeling of frustration/melancholy that I didn't know what to do with myself. So on the advice om some of my writing blogger friends, I took some time away from the Internet. In that time, I started with a new knitting project: a knee length cape.

I'm about quarter of the way through, and I think it's going to be beautiful. I'll share a pick when it's finished. 

Anyway... The feeling wouldn't quite go away, so I started thinking, and my thoughts turned to my three dreams, of which I've been neglecting one: My Clothing Label. 

So now I'm putting that into motion. I'll be starting VERY small, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to grow as I go along. 

But I must say, I already feel a lot better now for the fact that I made this decision. 

Anyone else took steps toward their dreams, lately? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sometimes I wonder...

I sometimes wonder what it will be like to actually be doing what I dream of doing.

Can you imagine? Years and years of angst finally over, with me doing what I've always dreamed. Will it be everything I hoped it to be? Will it be better? 

I really hope so. 

After all, I already nearly destroyed myself when I went after other people's dreams for me. Now I'm doing things that will hopefully help to make my dreams come true. I pray every day that that will be enough. Still, if it isn't, I'll have to do more with God's, because I have dreams that have to come true. 

But sometimes, I get a bit jittery. 

What if I just miss it? Will I be stuck in limbo all my life? 

Or worse. What if, after everything I've done, I make it and... it's not what I really love. What if my focus is too narrow, and I missed something I really loved?

And then I snap out of it. Because I realize two things: 

1) No matter what, going after my dreams is a much better life than trying to build dreams on other people's expectations. 
2) I've been using the broad focus for years in an attempt to find what please others and me. I found plenty of stuff. But the only things I truly have a burning and constant passion for are the things that I'm focusing on now. All those other things served only to distract and hurt me. 

And knowing that, I find my doubts fade quickly. Because then I know that no matter what, my life is good and I'm once again living through that phase where everything is possible. 

Do you sometimes doubt? What do you do?  

Friday, July 8, 2011

This is the moment...

So... when I discovered that the Hoff played Dr. Jekyll in Jekyll & Hyde, I was intrigued. I mean, I have heard him sing before, but never though of him as the Musical-type. So I went digging around for Jekyll's big song and voila:

I present to you, the Hoff:

Beautiful words, no? It sort of makes me think of my life.

NO... I don't drink drinks that alter my personality into that of a murdering psychopath. *at least I don't think I do.*

No, but my life is coming to a point now. At the end of the month, I will sign up for that one stupid subject.

This time, I will finish.

And then....

And then comes my This is the Moment moment. Then, I will be free to put money where my mouth is. To stop dipping my toe into the water and to dive in.

Strange to think about it, but last year, the thought terrified me. But this year, I can't wait.

This is the moment, 
When all I've done, 
All of my dreaming, scheming and screaming
Become one...

Here's to that moment coming soon. :-)

Anyone else reaching these moments?

P.S. Also want to apologize for my lack of post on Wednesday. Got stuck in revisions again. :-/

Monday, July 4, 2011

Why I now take weekends off

It's amazing how incredibly annoying an inconsistent Internet connection can be. I mean... I replied to the post before last's comments. Think it shows? Uhm... no.

Anyway, I decided to take weekends off. So no revisions (even when I really want to), no singing practice, no dancing practice. Nothing. Just chilling with a book or movie or vegetating in front of the T.V.

I'm lucky in a way. I really love everything that I do. So very little of what I do feels like work. But, I've been noticing that I'm starting to think of these things as things I have to do. I have to practice. I have to dance. I have to revise. I have to work. Etc.

And while that doesn't sound all that bad, it can become a problem when I start seeing the things I love as an obligation instead of a passion.

See, I made a commitment to living my dreams. But wouldn't it be terrible if I succeed and end up feeling like it's just another job?

So now I just vary my lifestyle with other things on weekends so that I can prevent my passions from feeling dreary.

It might sound odd, but it does work. I couldn't wait to revise this morning. Can't wait for dance lessons tonight. All because I took a forced rest.

Anyway, other than that, I don't have too much news... So I'm going to leave you with videos of the newest addition to my repertoire.

And yes... that is the Hoff.

Happy 4th of July to my U.S. Friends!

Friday, July 1, 2011

My progress on the weight loss front

I thought that I didn't really have anything to say today, but then I realized that I haven't spoken about one of my big topics for some time.

How is my diet/lifestyle change going?

I struggled with calorie counting, for the simple fact that it's difficult to keep the discipline. In the end, I only knew by how much I've been over-eating.

The reason is simple. If I eat too much for lunch, I say that I'll eat less for dinner, except I never do... And then it hit me. Food actually has too strong a hold over me. So going on calorie counting is (on a much smaller degree) like telling a drug addict that it's OK to just use a little less. Not going to happen unless the hold is broken.

So I decided to switch to nutritional shakes for a while so that I can snap out of the "must have everything now" thinking. And so far it works. I'm not craving anything, because I can have anything for lunch. BUT I have to watch portions, so I'm finding that I'm more likely to pick foods that satisfy me.

Also, the fact that the shakes are actually tasty helps a lot too. I haven't felt down about switching them in for my meals. Not even in the beginning. Didn't even get as much as a headache.

And the best part? I've lost 4 pounds. So I'm more than a little thrilled.

Anyone dieting/watching weight? How's it going?