me Life and Times of the Fireflies: September 2015

Monday, 28 September 2015

Eid-Ul-Adhaa 2015

For as long as I can remember, taking pictures on Eid day has always been a family tradition! From being all lined up in the garden, or piled on a sofa, or squeezed together on the edge of the bed...thanks to my mom, we have a picture for every Eid day growing up. From little kids, to when my brother outgrew my dad, to when the Fig tree outgrew us all...we have those memories preserved.
Though our family continues to grow, time has made it easier to capture these moments and memories; sharing and preserving them. Connecting and communicating with our family and friends. Especially on big days like these. And as we look back on them years from now, fascinated at how the kids grew from one year to the next, how age had slowly overtaken ourselves and our parents, embracing and welcoming new additions, remembering fondly those who have departed from one year to the next,  I suppose the rest becomes insignificant.
Nobody will remember the stress and the scramble the hours leading up to the day. Or the last minute dash because, somehow, your kids have gone through a growth spurt and don't have anything decent that fits. Or that long before the picture perfect photo was taken, their hair was overgrown and untidy. Nor will they remember the chaos in the kitchen because you ran out of baking powder....Or that you couldn't find you last pair of contact lenses the morning of Eid. Or that, while running around chaotically to ensure that the kids were all sorted, you didn't manage to squeeze in an hour of "ME TIME" to colour your (steadily increasing amount of) grey hair. And that until the evening before, you had no idea what you were going to wear, or if it even fits, because....WEIGHT GAIN!!  (All these things did, in actual fact, happen this Eid)   
None of these things will matter then. Hopefully, the only memory that lingers will  be as they are pictured here. With everyone happy, smiling and united as a family!







Belated Eid Mubarak!
NAMU :) 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Unilever #BrightFuture Initiative

From the very moment I  found out that I was to become a mother, and every heartbeat thereafter, planning for the future of my kids has become almost second nature. Schooling, healthcare, tertiary education and beyond; as parents, we strive to encompass our offspring with the very best life has to offer. Labouring endless hours to provide for them as best we can.
What if I told you, that we are missing an important facet to the forecasting and plotting of the bright future we so desperately desire for our kids. That  without action today, this future we are so carefully planning, and the tomorrow of future generations is looking bleak! What if I told you that a brighter future is one simple seed away and that change is very much possible if we take action today!  
 I don't think I was fully aware of the devastating impacts climate change has until I sat and listened to each passionate speaker at the Unilever  #BrightFuture media launch. Somehow, even with information at our finger tips, we choose to live in a bubble where the "Out of sight, out of mind" mantra takes precedence. But once you mind has been awoken, there is no turning back. Enlightenment is like a torch...once ignited within, there is only desire to ignite many such torches within every person you come into contact with. The Unilever #BrightFutureSA initiative intends to do just that! To ignite the passion within everyone to be more cognisant of the impact we have on the planet.

What is certain is that putting change into action requires inspirational leaders! After spending the morning listening to how this initiative is changing lives read more about it here, I left feeling inspired... coupled also with a sense of responsibility on my shoulders to help ignite the flame of change in others and help this initiative to reach its goal!

Deforestation is one of the leading causes of Climate change and one of the simplest and most powerful ways to combat it is to plant more trees. Unilever, together with Wildlands (one of SA's most respected environmental organisations), has pledged its commitment to take action against climate change in one of the greatest reforestation drives to date and plans to plant 1 million indigenous trees in predetermined areas in South Africa with a little help from you!
Because Unilever knows that good intentions alone doesn't get the job done, they have committed themselves to raise awareness of Climate change by giving every South African an opportunity to play an active part in the campaign by either pledging or tweeting.
Unilever South Africa’s partner in this project is Wildlands, who will make use of one of their most innovative projects to grow and plant the pledged trees. Working at a community level, through a CEBA (Community Ecosystems Based Adaptation) model, Wildlands has created a network of ‘Tree-preneurs’ across four provinces, which gives unskilled individuals in poverty-stricken areas the chance to improve their way of life by growing and bartering indigenous trees in return for livelihood support, including food, building materials, bicycles, solar panels and rain water harvesting tanks. Unilever South Africa will provide product hampers to Wildlands which will be bartered with Tree-preneurs for trees.
To help Unilever achieve their goal of 1 million trees:
  •  simply tweet using the hashtag  #TweetForAtree  together with the hashtag  #BrightFutureSA and tag @UnileverSA

 and a tree will be planted on your behalf... As simple as that! One simple tweet has the ability to change the lives of so many people, plus we will be doing a great deal to preserve our environment, not just for ourselves, but for generations to come.
The time has come now, more than ever before, for change....
"If not now, then when...If not you, then who?"

A book full of inspiring stories of how the #BrightFutureSA initiative has changed lives!

Bailey Schneider, Andrew Venter (CEO of Wildlands) and Preola Adam

Committed to making a difference!
MC Jo-Ann Strauss
Members of the Media
Preola Adam
The very inspiring Queen
Do your part and #TweetForATree
"The wellbeing of the planet and its people are inextricably linked, and by addressing environmental and social issues simultaneously, we will ensure that development gains are irreversible and ecosystems are protected for generations to come"
Peter Cowan
Chairman and CEO, UNILEVER SA
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully these words have inspired you to make a difference !

Friday, 11 September 2015

My Truths - Forgiveness

Some people shield their hearts in a shroud by being aloof and creating enough distance and space between them and others so that hurt finds it very difficult to penetrate, while others live with their hearts unarmoured; an open target to hurt and betrayal; until one day, broken and wounded beyond repair, they retreat behind a plastered smile and emotionless eyes that have long dried up from overflowing for too long.

 Some wounds run deep, and though on the surface it appears to be healed, and the scab has dried and fell off, and all that remains is a feint and tiny scar; the skin still tingles in places as it grazes unexpectedly against something or the other. In the same way, the heart, though it  continues to beat, it still flinches when it is faced with an unexpected experience and remembers a hurt.
In life, experiences undoubtedly change you! They break you, wound you, disappoint you. Our instinct is always to protect ourselves, so we build walls and fortresses an bear a heavy lock on our hearts. Careful who we let in...difficulty in parting with those we have locked away in the valves of our beating life force. But these same experiences that inflicts a struggle also builds us, strengthens us and teaches us things we didn't know before.
 Sometimes we think we have conquered an obstacle, that we've gained closure on the way we were treated, that we have learnt what we need to in order to move on. But those lingering feelings, the tingling emotions  a sign that the healing is incomplete. Sure enough I have learnt...that people don't value relationships the way I do, that perhaps I invest too much into friendships, that it frequently leads me to becoming a doormat and very often; despite my best intentions, I am used as a vessel for personal gain. This has most certainly made me weary, cautious, hesitant, perhaps even a little emotionally shut off. But walking around with an armoured heart also weighs you down. Sometimes we pull the protective harness so tight that it loses its ability to beat in a way that is natural to us, and in so doing we lose a bit of our essence...

The apologies we yearn for don't always come. Sometimes they are replaced with grand gestures laced heavy in tradition. Sometimes all we will get are words dancing off the tongue -  minus acknowledgement, sincerity, humility. Sometimes this also hurts because it is so far removed from how we live our lives. But sometimes we need to forgive anyway. Not because we were asked, but because it lightens our own burden and clears our path for the journey we have yet to undertake...

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Recipe - Tiramisu Cupcakes

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe over here. I would love to say it's because I've adopted a gluten free, alternative lifestyle, but sadly it isn't so! Ever since Eid, it's been parties galore in our family and parties = CAKE! Which in turn means my kitchen has been extraordinarily busy and shows no sign of slowing down soon.
When life speeds by, and there's no room for error, I tend to use formulas that I know works. And when those reliable recipes become a little boring, there are numerous ways they can be dressed up! In this instance I took a " girl next door" vanilla cupcake recipe and gave it a complete makeover; transforming ordinary into extraordinary! With a few simple tweaks, a simple cupcake was tantalising the palette, masqueraded as a mini Italian dessert...

There are many variations of this cupcake, some opting for the more traditional route of marscapone cheese topping. I, however, improvised with whatever ingredients I had at hand.


You will need:
  •  1 Basic vanilla cupcake recipe (See  here  for  a quick and easy cupcake recipe that will save you time)

  • 1 mug strong black coffee with sugar

  • 100 gr butter

  • 125 gr cream cheese ( traditionally made with Marscapone cheese, but I substituted with cream cheese)

  • 2 cups icing sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

  • 200 gr white chocolate (melted )

  • 150 - 200 ml fresh cream, whipped

  • Cocoa powder for dusting
* Recipe yields approximately 24 cupcakes
Method :
  1. Bake cupcakes as per instructions using foil lined cup holders instead of paper ones as the paper cups will become soggy after step 2.
  2. Once you have removed cupcakes from the oven, immediately poke them with a knife or fork and drizzle coffee over the tops and leave to cool. The poking will allow coffee to be absorbed into the cupcake.
  3. While cupcakes are cooling, make on the cream cheese topping by beating butter and icing sugar thoroughly until white and fluffy. Thereafter, add the cream cheese, being careful not to overbeat as mixture will become runny. Next, stir in melted chocolate, and lastly fold in the whipped cream.
  4. Once cupcakes are cooled, the cream cheese topping can be piped on top and then dusted with cocoa powder.

    Thanks for reading and Happy Baking!
    NAMU :)

Friday, 4 September 2015

Flop- Proof Cupcakes

I was almost certain that this was the year I was going to bake my sister her much anticipated Devil’s Food Cake for her birthday! Unfortunately, due to kids’ schedules and time constraints, this was not possible.  All was not lost however, as I always have a back- up recipe at hand. Seeing as she is someone who loves all things chocolate, I opted for these super quick, super soft cupcakes.

Today I'm sharing my go-to cupcake recipe with you.  It is quick and easy to prepare and pretty much flop- proof making it the perfect recipe for beginners who wish to channel their inner Nigella Lawson without too much effort.  Even professionals who have mastered the skill of baking but simply do not have the time due so many other daily tasks they have to juggle will benefit from this.
125gr butter/margarine (softened)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 tsp. baking powder
8 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk

( For vanilla cupcake variation, replace cocoa powder with the same measurement of cake flour and add vanilla essence)

  • Pre- Heat oven to at 180 °C.
  • Combine all ingredients together and beat with electric beater for 3 min.
  • Line cupcake pan with paper cups
  • Fill 2/3 of the paper cup with cupcake mixture.
  • Bake  for 15-20 minutes.
  • You can decorate as desired, but I used butter icing on this occasion.