me Life and Times of the Fireflies: March 2014

Friday, 28 March 2014

Music and Memories

The power of an old song can trigger off vivid memories and transport us back in time, even if just for a few moments. A single song can evoke such strong memories within us, that I sometimes find myself turning up the volume, smiling in amusement at some distant memory and humming along! There are so many songs that are intricately tied to my childhood and sometimes a song or melody may cause a specific memory to resurface, or very often it is just a reminder of a time lost, but never forgotten...nostalgia at it's best... and a crashing reminder that I am getting old!!

Over the past few years it has become a tradition of sorts for us to revisit our old favourite musicals with the help of  productions held at the Artscapes Theatre in Cape Town. These musicals  have transported us back in time and allow us to recapture  melodies that house little pieces of our memory box and brings them to life in a spectacular way as we relive songs, dances; and in the case of my oldest sister, dialogues as well.
Abba, Grease, Dirty Dancing...These productions have become something we look forward to! This year The Sound of Music took centre stage and did not disappoint!! From the spectacular set design, to the brilliant casting of Maria and professionalism displayed by the little kids... to the heart and soul of the show, the Orchestra...who brought the hills  audience alive with the sound of music... and our hearts alive with nostalgic sentiment...we were captivated from the very first note!
It's hard to believe that this musical first made it's debut on Broadway in the 1950's (although we are familiar with the movie version of the 60's) and it is still enchanting audiences today! We attended the show on Saturday and since our kids are fast becoming teens and tweens; this year we thought it would be a good idea to include them in the musical memories of our youth gone past and in the process, create musical memories of their own!
The Mal-Trapp family!!



Thanks for reading!
NAMU :) 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Recipe : Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

The weather finally appears to have cooled down and Autumn seems to have made it's way rather gracefully into our midst. The mornings and evenings have a welcoming calm, crisp, cool demeanour which makes it a perfect occasion to curl up with a warm cuppa coffee and a sweet indulgence on the side. It also makes for perfect conditions to venture back into the kitchen for some baking after my long Summer rebellion...

 My mom and I have a long standing love affair with Lemon Meringue! It has become our coffee date cheat indulgence and sometimes I even manage to spoil her with a freshly baked one when I get the chance. I found this recipe a short while ago and it is without a doubt the best of two worlds; combining two of my absolute favourites; Lemon Meringue and Cheesecake!


1 1/2 Packets of Tennis biscuits (I used 1 packet tennis and 1/2 packet ginger biscuits)
125gr butter melted (I did not use the full amount)

Method: Crush biscuits, add melted butter and mix well. Press into a 20cm spring-form pan lining the base and sides with biscuits (I lined my pan with foil)


500 grams cream cheese
2 tins condensed milk
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup lemon juice
4 tsp grated lemon rind

*try to use fresh lemons when making the filling and try buying a nice, firm cream cheese as this will help with the overall texture and consistency of the tart.

Method : Place cream cheese in a food processor and beat until smooth. Add the condensed milk, yolks, rind and lemon juice and beat well until smooth. Make sure there are no chunks of cream cheese...the mixture must be smooth. Pour into prepared crumb base.

The meringue should be light, fine textured and billowy with a fine crust on the outside, without any beads of moisture clustered on the surface. I will share some tips that I have found helpful along the way.

5 Large egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp Corn flour (MAIZENA)

Method:  This recipe uses a Swiss Meringue, which is made by heating the sugar and egg whites over hot water. Oven should be pre-heated to 160 degrees Celsius.
  1. Bring water to a simmer in a pot that will hold a bowl without it touching the water. Reduce heat to low or you can switch it off.
  2. Put the egg whites in the bowl and whisk preferably with a balloon whisk while adding the sugar about 2 Tablespoons at a time, whisking for about 10 seconds between additions. The secret is to dissolve the sugar in the egg white.
  3. When the sugar is totally dissolved add the cream of tartar and corn flour beat with an electric beater, gradually increasing the speed from low to medium high for the course of 4min. The egg whites must be thick, glossy with medium firm peaks.
  4. Use a spoon to drop some of the meringue in mounds around the edge of the filling. With the back of the spoon, gently spread the dollops of meringue over the entire surface of the filling all the way to the crusts edge. It is essential that all the filling be completely covered by the meringue without any air pockets. It should be anchored to the rim of the crust.
  5. Scoop the rest of the meringue on top with the back of the spoon to eliminate air pockets but do not deflate the meringue. Make decorative peaks with the back of the spoon.
  6. Bake the tart for 30min on the lower third shelf of the oven. switch the oven off and open door slightly. Leave the tart in the oven for 10 min to cool down.
  7. Allow tart to cool at room temperature before placing in the fridge for several hours. This is to firm up cream cheese.
  8. Best made the day before!!

  • Be sure your beater and bowl are perfectly clean and that there are no traces of yolk in your egg whites. Any fat will keep the whites from increasing in volume.
  • To prevent weeping, it is important that the sugar be fully dissolved in the egg whites. Use castor sugar here because it dissolves more quickly than granular sugar.
  • The cream of tartar and corn flour gives the meringue extra stability, giving it the signature peaks.

Hope these tips are helpful in making the perfect Lemon Meringue Cheesecake!
Happy baking,

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Truth Will Set You Free

(image sourced)
No matter how much we may try and avoid it, it is impossible to be living in South Africa and not know at least something about the Oscar Pistorius trial. Newspapers, magazines, twitter feeds, Facebook updates and even an entire t.v. channel dedicated to live coverage of what is happening, means that at some point we have all come face to face with some source of information pertaining to this unfolding saga....and yet all of us seem to be processing this information very differently.
I can clearly remember the moment the news broke last year. At the time, I was more than just interested in the story...I was curious, fixated, obsessed and my life did a little stand still as I followed every detail, every tweet and every article! I promised myself that I wouldn't get dragged into the hype of the trial. That I will remain impartial. That this issue has nothing to do with me...but I admit I am finding it difficult.
Which makes me wonder what it is about human nature that thrives on the downfall of others? Why do we feel the need to know every sordid detail? Does it make us feel better about ourselves when we see someone that supposedly had it all, fall ungracefully from the pedestal we ourselves have put them on?
My faith in humanity would like to believe that it was all a tragic mistake. That the hero the world once saw is still somewhere there, but more and more it is becoming evident that even though the shooting MAY have been accidental, this tragic loss of life was really the result of something far bigger... an inflated ego and a troubled soul. Sometimes our own personal prisons are the cause of more destruction than any physical prison ever can and though the future of Oscar's life seems forever tarnished, redemption will only come once he releases the forces that have brought him to this point in the first place...
Whether or not Oscar is guilty of murder is not for me or you to say...but as the case unfolds, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the justice everyone is in search for may never come. Sometimes the justice we want is something we can see. Instant. Immediate. But justice, in whichever way, will come. It always does. Just not always in the way we want.
It seems unfortunate to have this sprawled out for the world to see...but it seems karma would have it that way...that Oscar shall fall by the same means that he was made. Although it isn't fair to strip him of his achievements. That has been a comfort to many mothers whose kids have faced a similar, uncertain future and it can remain that way if they take heed of some of his downfalls as well. 
The biggest tragedy here, is not Oscar's diabolical fall from long as his heart beats he has a fighting chance to turn the course of his life around, irrespective of the outcome of this trial. The real tragedy is the young life taken away, robbed of her chance to do the same and the parents who mourn...
It is easy to sit on the side line and pass judgement. To perceive things in our own way...but from now on, whatever I read or see regarding this incident will have no bearing whatsoever on me...only perhaps to tighten the noose on my own ego...remain humble...and keep my feet firmly planted on the ground!

 (image sourced)

Friday, 14 March 2014

My Week in Pictures

I've been a bit slow with posts this past week or so, but only because mommy duties took precedence! Parenting, after all, is a never ending juggling act...and this past week has seen me juggle more than my fair share. From nursing the sniffles, to helping kids study for end of term assessments, and offer a guiding hand to a variety of school projects.... plus an over eager 4 year old who wants to be part of it has left me feeling a bit like I am trying to catch my tail.
Some days I wonder if I'm getting it right. Whether I'm doing enough justice to each of my children. Whether I don't focus more on one and less on another. Whether I'm doing an ok enough job. Am I hard enough? Am I too strict? Do I listen enough to what they have to say? Cos as they get older, parenting also gets a bit more frightening; because how we raise them now, will affect the adults they inevitably become...
Perhaps I shouldn't be that hard on myself. The kids are lucky that I am here. I am present. I am trying my best! And luckily, I don't have to do it all on my own.  
Despite all that, it has not been ALL drama and gloom at all either! Although being a stay at home mom comes with it's sacrifices, it certainly has it's perks too!! And though a lot of time goes into maintaining a schedule and routine, sometimes we get to be part of the fun as well...and though this week has been filled with lots of schoolwork; it has also been highlighted with some exciting events for all 3 kids. The best part of it all, is that I got to share it with them too...and seeing them happy and thriving, is definitely one of the best rewards :-)

Monkey Town

Lifting the little ones on their school outings is always a highlight for me! It's so gratifying to me to see my kids interact with their friends, listen to their hilarious conversations and watch them soak up their new and exciting environment!


My little monkey :-)

So many different species...
Taking an educational tour with the tour guide!
Visit to Table Mountain

 How many kids get to visit one of the 'New Seven Wonders of the World' on a school trip?? When you are surrounded by all the splendour that is Cape Town, that visit is just one bus trip away! Even though I did not accompany Raqeeb on this trip, having him in the care of a fantastic educator meant that I was kept updated with snippets of info and these breathtakingly beautiful pictures.


 Cable car ride up!
Stunning view...Handsome kid ;-)
Lions Head in the background!
The view of our city from Table Mountain is absolutely breathtaking!
Sports Day
We ended off the busy week with the school's annual inter house athletics. This is probably the highlight of Saafiyah's  school year! It's no secret she loves sport way more than school work and this was definitely her year to shine in this area. Both kids participated in various events and obviously I was there to shout and cheer them on!!!
Great when sisters have kids at the same school...we cheered along together!
Team Excellentia!!
Zee came along to cheer on his brother and sister.

Our top 2 athletes in their age division... What I loved about these girls was that even though they were on opposing teams, there was still a sense of camaraderie between them. They motivated and challenged each other throughout the day!
At the long jump pit. Saafi's final jump was the winning one!
 Rocky might not have brought home medals, but it didn't stop him from cheering his sister on and celebrating her success :-)
They might not have been the winning team, but these teachers definitely possess a winning team spirit!
That's the highlights from my busy week! Hope you enjoyed the snapshot...and as always, thanks so much for reading!!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Review: John Frieda

 What's in the box??

Age hits us all in different ways. Some of us first notice wrinkles, while others notice it in the elasticity of their for me; I am noticing it in my hair!!! I started greying quite early (I fork it off to wisdom) and it has never really bothered me in a major way. But as the number of greys have increased and become slightly more visible, I do find myself sitting in a salon chair more frequently (but not obsessively) than usual to get them touched up!

It's on my trips to the salon that I have noticed an increasing amount of young girls being brought in by their parents for hair treatments. I'm talking as young as 6 - 9 years olds being brought in by their parents to have their hair relaxed...some sitting rather unhappily as stylists tug and pull at their hair and I often wonder to myself, what message we are sending our kids about embracing themselves?? What are we teaching them about beauty?? And I know I am guilty of it too. But in an effort to spoil or treat our kids to something special, we are also inadvertently sending them a message...and I know from my daughter, that at that age, there's nothing more they want than to just be themselves! In a world where we are told how we should look, perhaps we can take a lesson from the innocence of the young and just be happy and comfortable in our own skin (and hair)....

The reason I'm telling you all this, is because I was recently contacted by international hair care experts, John Frieda,  who were keen to spoil me with some hair care products. They sent me a little questionnaire to answer in order for them to hand-pick  right products for my hair :-) They were also very obliging in answering questions regarding my daughter's hair, as I struggle to find the right products to keep her thick mane of luscious waves looking it's best, especially in Summer, where she spends most of her time in a chlorinated pool !! Not only did they give me advice, but they included tailor made products and hair routine to suit BOTH our hair types!!!! You see, we don't need to try and change who we are; we only need the proper tools to make the best of what we have and embrace our natural assets!!

I don't usually do product reviews and I was under no obligation to write this one, but I was so impressed with the John Frieda Team; from their eagerness and enthusiasm to spoil some of us bloggers, to their thoroughness in wanting to send the correct products, to the perfect packaging, up until the amazing end result...that I feel obliged to share my experience with all of you.

For me :

My hair is pretty straight forward and easy, and the only real problem I have is the greys. I don't heat style regularly...just wash and go on a day to day basis. My mom would argue that on some days my hair is untidy, and she is probably right too!! Even easy hair tends to misbehave sometimes.
What they sent me:I was sent Brilliant Brunette; a colour protecting moisturising Shampoo and Conditioner. Since I colour my hair; touching up the roots every second month or so; the formula protects and preserves brunette colour while it also rehydrates and replenishes.
Results: Quite honestly, my hair has never felt better!! The difference was actually quite noticeable, and perhaps the defining difference would be that my hair felt incredibly light and soft...not weighed down. There was a more vibrant shine and my colour looked brighter. I don't think I realised the impact different products have on my hair until I used this product and I will definitely be purchasing this from now on.
Available: John Frieda products are available exclusively at Clicks stores (South Africa) and retails for R95 each.
For My Daughter :
 Lucky Girl !!
Perhaps the biggest mistake I have made with my daughter's hair, is buy the wrong products for her hair type...quite often the same shampoo and conditioner for both of us. Finding something that works with her natural waves has always been a mission...but not anymore. The trick is to work with what you have got and not against it.

What they sent for her : They sent her a range of products developed for wavy, curly and frizz-prone hair. This specially developed formula provides the necessary moisture to smooth out the hair cuticle while working with your hair's natural curl pattern! All the product sent aids in blocking out frizz to provide  smooth, polished, glossy hair.

Results : Again, her hair felt light and not weighed down by any of the products. We don't heat style her hair regularly (Quite frankly, it would be way too time consuming and exhausting for a child her age) and her hair has never felt or looked better.  We are left with soft, glistening, healthy-looking waves!

Available :John Frieda products are sold exclusively at Clicks stores here in South Africa and the Frizz Ease products range at prices between R95- R99.

 Thanks, John Frieda Team... from both of us!
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Recipe - Chocolate Bundt Cake

February has a reputation for being the hottest month on the calendar over here in Cape Town, and though I had all good intentions of making my favourite summer cheesecake to share on the blog last month; the soaring temperatures and unbearable heat waves left me ducking and diving out of the kitchen!! I honestly did not even feel like cooking!!!

But alas, Autumn has arrived, and though I'm sure our hot days are far from over, this past Sunday was cool enough for me to venture back into the kitchen and do some baking.

The recipe I chose to make was this Chocolate Bundt Cake that caught my eye on the Pomegranate Days Blog. Samantha Taylor is the blogger behind Pomegranate Days and she is as crafty with her words as she is with her culinary skills!! Inspired by her post where she says "I pinned it and then I actually made it!", referring to her obsession with pinning recipes on Pinterest, I figured  there is no better way to honour one's favourite food blogger than to actually try out a recipe, and this is one I had been eager to try out ever since she posted it! 

The thing about Chocolate Cake is, once you have found the perfect recipe, you don't have the need to try anything new. Samantha dared to say that this was the "little black dress" of chocolate cakes, and I was curious to see how it measured up to my own recipe.

My first attempt at this recipe was on Thursday for my sister to take along to work. I made the mini Bundt version...and although luxuriously soft, moist, rich and decadent; I found it slightly salty. I reduced salt on my second attempt, and the result was just pure perfection!

Overall, I wasn't disappointed, although husband and son were undecided as to whose recipe is better, citing 'too close to tell the difference' as an actual reason! It was easy to follow and extremely quick to mix, which is absolutely perfect for those days when you are in a hurry; without compromising texture and flavour. No more halving my recipe to fit a Bundt pan...from now onwards, the Bundt pan shall be reserved for authentic Chocolate Bundt Cake ;-)  Here is the recipe...

  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tblsp strong coffee

  • 3/4 cup cocoa

  • 2 whole eggs

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar

  • 1 1/4 tsp salt (I just used a 1/4 tsp)

  • 2 1/2 tsp bicarb

  • 1 1/4 cup plus 1 Tblsp Buttermilk

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tblsp oil

  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tblsp Cake Flour
  • 200ml fresh cream (I also use a small tin of Nestle cream instead of fresh cream)

  • 200gr plain chocolate

  1. Whisk the cocoa powder into the strong coffee. Allow to cool.
  2. Whisk together eggs, yolk, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda on low speed for 1 minute.
  3. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla essence. Mix for 1 min.
  4. Add Flour and mix on medium speed for 2 min.
  5. Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 min. The batter will be loose.
  6. Pour into a large Bundt pan  that has been sprayed with non stick spray and bake for 1 hr for large bundt and 25 min for the mini Bundt tray.
  7. Sam says to leave cake to cool in pan. I was impatient and turned it out within 5 survived!
  8. Meanwhile, make ganache by bringing cream to a boil, removing from heat and then adding the broken up pieces of chocolate to it and leaving it to melt.  Leave to stand for 2 min. Whisk the chocolate and cream together until well blended.
  9. I usually just add everything in a bowl and heat it in the microwave for about a minute. I also used the Nestle cream on this occasion. The fresh cream has a richer taste, but the nestle cream has a thicker consistency which makes it easier to spread.
  10. Leave the ganache to stand at room temperature and whisk every 10 minutes or so until it thickens. Once ganache is thick enough use back of spoon to glaze over cake. This process is much quicker with the nestle cream. Also bare in mind if you are using fresh cream, if the mixture it not thick enough, it will absorb into the cake and you will not get that thick chocolatey coating!!
Mini Bundt cake...



These 2 young ladies got all dressed up for a Garden themed Tea-party photo shoot, only to have it ruined by the rain! 
    Thanks Sam, for sharing this recipe!
    ( See her post with her recipe here )
    Happy Baking Everyone!
    NAMU :)