Travelling Tuesday: Warm Up in Corsica

Since it sounds like a lot of you folks are experiencing some chilly temps, and many of you have just enjoyed a good snowfall, I thought perhaps this week to warm you up we’d travel to beautiful Corsica…although I’ve never been there. Corsica is a lovely wee island in the Mediterranean. I suppose it’s French but you shouldn’t say that to a Corsican. It’s the official birthplace of Napolean Bonaparte, and Mark visited on holiday a year before we met, in 2004. We happened across the album the other day, and the pictures were just too beautiful not too share! I had trouble narrowing them down, so I think there are twelve. Perhaps you’ll really get warmed up.

I really liked this one, although it wasn’t one of Hero Hubby’s faves.

Chez Marie, Ota

HH’s comment: I ate wild boar there.

How gorgeous is this spot?

Grain De Sable 2

HH’s comment: Grain de Sable. That means the grain of sand.

This one is so warm and fuzzy to me.


HH: Pretty…?? It is just north of the famous Calanqes de Piana. Famous is a relative term.

Can you tell I’m asking him for comments and he doesn’t really have any? 🙂 This picture makes me want to be a tourist for a while. But I kind of always feel like a tourist these days anyway.

Dele Cafe on the way to Foret de L'Ospedale

HH: Little roadside cafe. On my way into the mountains of Corsica.

This one reminds me a little of Edinburgh Castle at sunset. But only a little.

Bonifacio at Sunset 2

HH: The beautiful town of Bonifacio, on the southern coast of Corsica. If you see one thing in the Mediterranean, see this. Did I say it’s beautiful?

Wow! That time I got two complete sentences! This is another one of those photos that just makes it hard to be where you are…sorry. Too pretty not to share!

Back to Cap Pertustato from Ile Cavallo

HH: Cap Pertustato from Ile Cavallo. Taken specifically because of the beautiful colour of the water.

I should mention here that I can’t upload these in as high a quality as I would like to, because we pay for data instead of having unlimited internet in these parts! Just pretend it’s a lot brighter, because really it is. If you hold your cursor over this next photo, you should be able to see the long and complicated title HH gave it, which I couldn’t be bothered to retype. It’s getting late!

Ponte Zaglia Geneose Bridge, Gorges Spelunca

HH: I took a walk up a river valley called Gorges Spelunca to take a refreshing swim in the swimming pools here. The bridge is called Ponte Zaglia, and it’s a Genoese bridge which dates back to the 14th century.

So there. He made me type it all anyway. Here’s another pic to help you warm up…

Plage de Virghio

HH: Plage de Virghio. The beautiful scene belies the fact that the pathway that runs behind the trees of this idyllic beach poses some land mine threatage…human feces. [Me: What??] There are no toilets! So people go poo in the bushes!! Sorry to spoil the idyllic picture.

Moving swiftly on…gross, Mark! Moving swiftly on…we’re getting to the favourites I have saved for last, of course! I hope you’re still with me. This one is picture-postcard-perfect to me.

View of Golfe de Calvi

HH: The view from the old town of Calvi, just below the Citadel. You’re looking across Golfe de Calvi towards the mountains of northern Corsica.

Did you love that one? I feel like I’m in Japan looking at this one…

Col de Bavella at Sunrise

HH: An early morning departure…no. An early morning photograph of the cloud inversion from Col de Bavella. I drove through these clouds descending the winding twisty road from the Col to Solenzara on the east coast. One of the most beautiful mountain passes I’ve had the pleasure of driving. I was particularly enjoying this last day of my car rental. 🙂

Gosh my fingers are tired from that caption, Mr. Dickens! Here’s my very favourite…

Chapelle St-Roch

HH: One of my favourite photographs of all time. I was strolling around the old town of Bastia and saw this bell with the backdrop of the very blue Mediterranean, and as I was lining up the photograph this yacht came sailing into the picture. All I had to do was press the button!

Welp, happy Tuesday! I hope you enjoyed those, that you warmed up a bit if necessary, and that the road rises to meet you wherever your journey takes you next!

Tis the Season: For Christmas Watermelon!

As expected, it’s a hot and sunny Christmas in our neck of the woods right now. Beautiful. I am still sorely missing my family, but I am doing my best to enjoy the beauty and laughs of doing some new traditions over the holidays, while remembering that it’s the goodness of God that this season is all about!

Last night Mark was making these tasty South African dessert drinks (called Dom Pedros) for us and spilled most of the first batch on the kitchen floor. It was a funny moment, and I almost think we should start a new tradition because of it. Instead of hot chocolate, a tasty ice cream drink will certainly do!

One delightful tradition I’ve discovered that was an annual event in the Collie household was having watermelon at Christmas. They used to let the watermelon float around in the swimming pool to keep it cool until it was time to cut it and eat it. And it makes sense for it to be a Christmas fruit — it’s red and green! The Bear had his first taste of Christmas watermelon yesterday and I think he really likes it! Mark captured some great shots of this Christmas first. Can you guess what the little seed is that is stuck to his face from his lunch?  Feel free to enjoy the photos, and then get back to enjoying the holiday with your family!!

Melon Bear

Yum!Yum yum!Good on sore Bear Gums

I hope to get some photos of my new favourite Christmas tradition — bacon covered cherries — to share with you tomorrow! With step-by-step instructions. If you’re keen to follow along, pick up a pack of bacon, some toothpicks and some glazed cherries today!

Till then, have yourself a very Merry Christmas!

Travelling Tuesday: Introducing Exotic Bloemfontein!

It’s Travelling Tuesday!  I know all eleven of my blog readers are excited! I thought this week I’d introduce you to lovely Bloemfontein, South Africa, since I’ve been mentioning it so much lately. Even among South Africans, it’s not a very well known city. (Or better said, people know of it but know nothing about it.) It has a reputation for being a place where you “cry when you get here and cry when you leave.”  But I absolutely love it!

Here are a few Bloemin’ Facts:

Name: Bloemfontein is an Afrikaans name, literally translated “Flower Fountain”

Location: Just east of dead centre if you look at a map of South Africa, in the Free State, formerly known as the Orange Free State, which is along the Orange River.

Population: 349,000 in the city, and even more in the greater municipal region (Way bigger than my hometown!)

Claims to Fame: It’s one of SA’s three capitals — the judicial capital. J.R.R. Tolkien was born here, as well as several famous South African athletes including Zola Budd (such a sad story!), Ryk Neethling, and Hansie Cronje, a famous Cricket player whose biographical movie was released in 2008.

Home to:

  • The Free State Cheetahs, a Currie Cup winning Rugby team. (That’s like the South African Rugby Super Bowl).
  • At least three lovely shopping malls, one of which is situated on a man-made lake called Loch Logan. I continually refer to it as Loch Lomond.
  • One of the most active soaring (or gliding) communities in the world. (That’s the sport/recreational activity where pilots fly unpowered aircraft using rising air).
  • Lots of incredibly beautiful gardens (including my mother-in-law’s), in a surprisingly arid region of the country.
  • Some serious dust storms. That can sometimes turn into serious thunderstorms. Which makes it feel a little like home.

These days exotic ‘Bloem’ is also home to…

The neighbours’ pet tortoise. I don’t know if he has a name so I call him Pedro.

Pet Turtle

Exotic Birds.

Still Not the Croc Hunter

Okay so that’s actually just a dove that flew into the house and Mark caught him. (In case you’re confused, please check out this post so that I can confirm for you that my husband is not the Croc Hunter.) There are other, slightly more exciting birds in the garden as well! Masked Weavers and Bulbuls are some of my favourites.

One ferocious Bear. Who is only ferocious when I try to get him off of his little car, even if he’s been on it so long his toes are being rubbed raw. (I’ve since started putting his shoes on when he goes out for a ride).

Dad & Bear

This is perhaps my favourite picture of late — look at our sweet sixteen month old!

B&W Bear

Here is what happens to the car the gardener just washed when a dust storm is immediately followed by a thunderstorm.

Grubby Potato

Poor Mr. Potato Head!!

I suppose you’ve now realised that Bloemfontein is not particularly exotic. I was kind of hoping you’d figure that out. I thought it might be good for some stereotype-breaking-down. No lions in the roads…No elephants on the outskirts of town. Just pretty birds, shopping centres and stuff that makes it feel a lot like America or Britain. I’m sorry to say I don’t have more pictures that can capture the essence of Bloemfontein — especially the crazy dusty-coloured skies I’ve seen the past couple of days! I hope we can capture a few more good shots of the place to give you a better feel for it in the days ahead.

In the meantime, I hope your days are merry and bright (though if you’re in the northern hemisphere, they’re not likely to be as bright as ours right now!) and that the road rises to meet you wherever your travels might take you next!

Creative Christmas Gifts on a Budget

Yay! I have to share the excitement with you. I really love being in the kitchen, especially when making a mess is involved, but not usually when the dirty dishes are staring back at me. Mark and I spent a wee bit of time making salsa for our neighbours. It was a creative Christmas gift on a budget, and I thought I ought to share!

I have a delightful hodgepodge recipe for Salsa and it is as follows:

  • 1 Can of Chopped Tomatoes (chili flavour)
  • 1 can of regular chopped tomatoes (in case you want to compare size — they’re 440 grams/15 oz. in my present locale)
  • a nice handful of fresh coriander or cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 finely diced green chili pepper
  • and away we go!

But why am I so extra-delighted about salsa? I’ll be honest. It’s the containers. We picked up some fru fru plastic ones that they sold us really cheap off the counter in the deli section at the grocery store. I wasn’t so excited because they were frumpy. I now digress to say my husband loves Coca Cola. And he especially loves it here because it still comes in glass bottles. And he thinks it tastes the very best that way. We had six glass Coke bottles under our sink waiting patiently to be recycled. And we arrive back at salsa. Now in gorgeous, thoroughly cleaned coke bottles. Garnished graciously with ribbon and a wee Christmas card apiece.

Here’s the play by play. If you like it extra spicy, drop the plain can of tomatoes. We tripled the recipe and added one extra can of the chili flavoured tomatoes, and an extra couple of garlic cloves for good measure. Maybe a few extra spices too, who knows. Anyway, start with the happy ingredients listed above.

Happy Ingredients

Mark had to convince me that this tiny food processor was a good idea. And now I use it like it’s my job. I suppose it is. Anyway he is great. So we mince the garlic in this bad larry first by itself, and then the onion follows. Then you can just add all the other tasty stuff.

Mix it up

You might want to put a few slits through the coriander first, or else it might get wrapped around the spinny thing, and not chopped! (Not pictured, but be sure you know we made that mistake!)

Chop Chop

Now is a good time to turn on the Wonder Pets, because the baby is probably tired of not getting enough attention, and you still have lots to do.

Wonder Pets to the Rescue

You’re almost there! We dumped our three and a half batches of salsa together in one big pot, gave it a good couple of stirs, and then began the process of funneling it into our coke bottles.

Big pot…

Pot o Salsa

Funnel… (and use a straw if you get cloggies)


Sorry ladies, that handsome demonstrator is claimed! And this is the final product…

Finished Product

I am pleased to report that the neighbours are really enjoying their spicy salsa Christmas gifts. I was delighted to deliver such a cute product at such a great price! I hope this has your brain-a-storming with creative ideas for being a blessing at Christmas without cursing your wallet! If you do have some Christmas-on-a-budget ideas, please comment away – I would love to hear them!

An Update and a Big Thanks

Even when life is tough, I know God is good. But sometimes it’s really nice to give the update that both are good, at the same time. 🙂 I shared with you recently about how settling into this new place has been tough, and how it had been a greater challenge than I expected.

And many of you have asked how I’m doing and been so encouraging, sent emails with words of encouragement, and you’ve prayed for us and for me, which is a wonderful blessing. I just want to give you an update and say thank you for your prayers. The Lord is answering them.

We have settled in at the church we visited when we first arrived. Although I feel certain it was the Lord’s leading for us to take the time to seek His direction about where He would have us, I am really happy that we’ve settled in at the Every Nation Church in Somerset West. We’re beginning to make some lovely friends there, and it is just such water to our souls to be in fellowship again after feeling like nomadic travellers for so long. (Friends, thank the Lord for your friends and your communities and fellowship! Even if it’s sometimes tough to be in community, it is ALWAYS better than NOT being in community, I am convinced.)

We enjoyed attending a Life Group last night, which was actually a big end-of-year Christmas party, and had lots of laughs playing the Bad Santa Christmas game where you draw numbers and get to steal gifts or choose new ones. And Mark stole my homemade brownies, ate one, and gave them back to the person he stole them from after the game. He’s such a hero hubby!

We are also still getting to know our neighbours, which is lovely. We’re making salsa to bring them today as Christmas gifts since we leave for Bloemfontein on Wednesday. And we are networking with other Christians in the community in really exciting ways…meeting with folks from different churches interested in partnering with Samaritan’s Feet, and speaking with people who know people who know about working as a trust…making shoes…and lots of other things that could make our work here just blossom into a powerful ministry for the Kingdom and the glory of God.

We have even been welcomed by believers we’ve met at the gym, and the warm welcome into the community is such sweet water to our souls. So this is a big thank you, from the bottom of my heart (whatever that expression really means…why the bottom) and perhaps from the bottom of Mark’s heart too, and the Bear’s happy bottom… for your prayers and your encouragement. The Lord answers prayers. He is wonderfully good. And I am thankful for your friendship and support, as sometimes a comment on a blog has been enough to get me through a tough moment, here in sunny South Africa, my home 7,500+ miles away from home.

So here’s the big thanks…


(Sorry I can’t figure out how to make it any bigger) And I will give the Bear the big kiss I can’t give each of you…

Big Kiss