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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My pizza patio ~

So when I first saw the patio on returning after many years, it looked tired and sad.. not how I had remembered it as the Sunday gathering braaing with our folks and  all the young children.
It was in serious need of a  facelift ...We had six weeks to redesign before the children were arriving...

I cannot live without a beautiful garden, no matter the keeps me sane..
I started working on it before I moved in...

Workmen and rubble have taken over my life..

Figuring out how to get the oven on top of the took many very strong men....

My most faithful handyman pictured below.. he started working with us 30 years ago..

Pallet cladding has taken the industry by storm..

And of course I have planted up herbs in all sorts of containers..

 Do you see them growing on this wall too...

Here is the completed look together with some of the delicious food that has been turned out of this gorgeous little oven...

 And my pocket garden is beginning to show off....

The weather played havoc too setting us back a week and a bit...
I enlisted the services of Love NGO project that takes homeless people and trains them in woodwork projects using old pallet material..
I am so please with the outcome.. completed just in time on the Thursday evening before our children arrived home...

Until next time...


Monday, August 29, 2016

My little Dolce Vita

It's been absolute ages... I was looking back on my blog and the last time I posted was almost a year ago..
Much has changed....partly due to my "empty nest" and the longing to feel fulfilled..
It took a programme airing here on television.."Debbie's Building of  La Dolce Vita" to inspire me to write my own story..
Sort of a journal that began on the 8 January this year saying goodbye to my dearest youngest...
This was not to be just an hour or so's flight or a great little stop over to's on the other side of the top of Africa!
I was devastated but tried to put on a brave face whilst waving him good bye with his little lass.
I think if not for her, I would have wanted to go along to "tuck him into his new apartment" but that was not to be..
So there I sat, my eldest now happily married to a beautiful soul both inside and out and my youngest with his gorgeous girl happily getting along in their new found happiness and settling into their careers.

My darling did not know how to handle me and days went by sitting in a tiny corner of this huge home that we had just shared with 20 odd people at Christmas and lovingly completed for happy reunions, laughter of the many younger generations, dogs, birds all brought together by gorgeous food in celebrating our love for life!
Gone in an instant...I had lost all sense of purpose as a mother..what now!!

Well it took a walk outside the gate one Sunday to discover a charming estate agent that I have known for years to twist my arm and in the blink of an eye this sprawling cocoon of mine was gone together with all my furniture! My next post, I will write of my thoughts and emotions on packing up the  family home.

The kids and my friends were shocked but not so much, as they all know this is a familiar trait of mine...

Where to now....

Well, I've found my "little dolce vita"...
It's half the size, it's old and crumbly and has family history too!
And as I sit here bashing out the old story of my married life...There's the old familiar bashing going on upstairs as we begin the 1st of 3 phases of restoration.

I'm in my happy place and will hopefully try to bring you updates of  DIY, bashing, restoring, living and cooking in the downstairs of my little townhouse and hopefully, God willing, the end result next year sometime....

So come along and journey with me....

I moved into this place in April and had 2 months to buy a complete home's worth of furnishings..
this was quite a challenge as I love to layer but for the now, was faced with  trying to inject some"Shel' into it before we started restoring; as our children were coming home for 2 weeks

I worked with a great ladywho had to put up with my distraught calls most days. The end result is exactly how I had, beachy and understated and it had a lived in look from the beginning.

Some of my pics still have the plastic layers over the furniture..

Moving onto my food scene, I've enjoyed cooking up some great comfort on a plate, courtesy van Loveren wines....
It's been quite a kind winter to us, however, we have had the odd very cold day and on those days I choose comfort, one pot meals whilst I work, food that "sees to itself"...
I think I'm also battling to cook for 2...yet another challenge of mine...

Here's the recipe for the venison mincemeat pie~

  • oil for frying, e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 700g venison mince
  • 2 streaky bacon rashers, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & cut into small dice
  • 2 celery sticks cut into small dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250ml  van Loveren Pinotage red wine
  • splash Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh (leaves only)
  • 200ml beef stock or water
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour
  • salt & pepper

  • For the pourable dough..
  • 250ml milk
  • 250 ml cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 430 ml AP flour
  • 20ml baking powder
  • 3 ml salt
  • 1 onion cut into rings
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. 
  • Mix the milk, eggs and oil together and incorporate the flour mixture. Pour over the mincemeat and arrange the onion slices on top.
  • Bake at 180deg C for around 30 minutes until the crust is risen and browned.
  • Delicious!

                                                          See you soon!    

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


We have an abundance of herbs and tomatoes ...
I'm trying to balance my life again...too much going on...
So here I am in my safety net ... not sure for how long but at least for today...

I was once again engrossed in Monique's blog...she has so many gorgeous Tomato recipes to try out..
If mine come out half as good I'll be pleased.

I had surplus tomatoes from our pizzas on Sunday I layered them in an oven proof dish with peppers, mushrooms, herbs, garlic and lashings of olive oil all topped with parmessan...
I baked it off slowly in the oven set at 150deg C while I got on with my "day job"

What gorgeous aromas hit my kitchen..permeating into my study at the other end of the lounge...
just scrummy...this was my dinner...just on a bed of rocket...

Loving this new area of my feels like I'm cooking in my garden...although it took a while and my home was chaos..I had a very patient builder ❤️

Little attempt at a pencil sketch on some notelets all the way from Canada  ❤️ 

(Wish I could paint!! Could never show the real turnout here. Lol)

A lot is going on in my life at the moment..yet today I feel blessed just reflecting on so much including my son's wedding a whole long year ago...there's still so much to be grateful for..

There's someone special in my life that I want to share this quote with...
It takes courage to change direction. Choose the path your heart agrees with and walk with your head high and your eyes open. Don't be afraid. heart emoticon

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Oxtail pies,a little risotta~

This pastry brings back some beautiful memories~
My mom used it for everything~

If made with real butter, it's light and fluffy and crumbles in your mouth~

I wanted to have it saved for my children~
It's one my 2 boys will always remember their gran bringing them filled with mincemeat...

I had leftover oxtail stew, recipe to be found ...and used it for the filling just adding a tad more gravy to each little pie~

Rough and robust they might look but filled with love and taste delicious~
( I certainly would not win an award for food is simple, rough but I like it this way~

Next was a bowl of comfort....
a little risotto...simple flavours...incorporating the rice with a good homemade chicken stock I had in the freezer, a cup of wine...I slowly incorporated the rice, fried onion, mushroom and garlic, stirring at all times...this is a slow dish...not something thrown together...
I diced and soaked chicken cubes in buttermilk then fried that and added it at the end of the risotto cooking...a good handful of  parmesan cheese,cream and fried sage leaves... a delicious bowl of comfort this was~

Here is my mom's favourite RICH  pastry she used for almost everything in her day...

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2pd slightly salted butter ( or marg)
pinch of salt

Mix all together until like fine breadcrumbs
bind with egg
Allow to firm up in the fridge before using.

Such a beautiful lady she was and a talented homemaker! How I do miss her especially at this time of the's so good to hold onto her recipe books, her handwritten notes and memories that will remain 'til eternity <3 p="">

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Easter cake ♥

Little soft and spongy cakes that last for days.
I have made them before and know that they are family favourites...

Someone was learning and I needed something sweet and quick to make~

You can find the recipe here...

I had some banana bread left over this week as well.....decided to make French toast with it and served it with bacon and maple syrup....a big hit with the family..and definitely  worth a try.
Something easy and fun to prepare and assemble for your Easter brunch...
go on....try it!
Bon Appetit!

Good to be in my happy place! ♥

Bon weekend!

Shel ♥

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Down memory lane~

I'm delighted to find myself engrossed in my blog again...I'm playing catch up and this is just a mix match hodge podge of this and that from in and around my home~

Flowers...glorious flowers...

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat. ~Beverly Nichols

I have since changed this bed into a beautiful display of roses...I seem to spend more time here than the rest of the garden...those of you who live in PE know how difficult it is to grow roses in this windy city of ours.

some prettiness at the bottom of the garden...

what joy and how wonderful to have an abundance to pick...

for a hen party...

 for the neighbourhood children...

We did not celebrate Christmas in our home as my family had something on of their own from honeymooning, celebrating their final year of varsity to celebrating a special anniversary after a very long year of celebrations.

I did however host a special charity tea and a small get together with family before we all left...

I  love beautiful tablescapes and little vignettes... I think I inherited this love from my mom..she loved to entertain,to set a beautiful table and to garden...
her garden was always somewhere I loved to be...
I remember with fondness watching her and her helper, John, daily tending the flower beds.
At the bottom of the garden was an old fig tree...magnificent specimen...but to my mom an irritation when it shed it's leaves and fruit...
We used to sit in it's shade and drink homemade milkshakes.
She was an excellent cook and used this little cookbook belonging to my gran and inherited from her mother, most weekends to shower her guests with all sorts of delights...I remember my favourite being her beef strogonoff...only to be disappointed when years later, she revealed to me her secret...a packet of Knorr Beef Strogonoff that she added to the beef and veg...I still use this recipe today :-)

I  am flattered when family and friends tell me that I have inherited my mom's love for beauty that surrounds me...I will always try to make the most out of what I have ...for this I am eternally grateful to my mom  

prettiness in a guest bathroom on an old silver tray given to us by my brother for our wedding..
that's antique!!

beauty in all it's splendour...

yet more beautiful favours have found a special place in my heart and home...

nothing beats this aroma from my kitchen to waken sleepy heads..

I had just started moving in last year and one perfect wind free evening, I was unpacking and  I "invited"  my Mr for a little celebration to watch the sunset from our bar area after a very loongg hot day!

In my entrance....some of my roses...and a beautiful old china teacup.

 An Easter and engagement affair........

celebrating a special anniversary... I love raw wood and glass in all its simplicity...

and a special evening with good friends and good wine... just for the fun...

and a practise run for the wedding~

watching the sunset.. Bellisimo!

It finally has sunk in...this is home!  My heart has arrived and I am here to stay for a while !


oh yes...and she's happy too!