Getting baked with Tracy: Brownies!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Getting baked with Tracy is a weekly feature on SFL. Unless otherwise stated, all words and pictures are by Tracy.

There’s no better indulgence to lift the spirit than chocolate, a sweet treat that has been immortalised by books like Chocolate by …  and Roald Dhal’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So, when adding that delightful creation, which is said to be invented by monks, to baked goods, you always have a winner. My favourite chocolate recipe has always been brownies; the best way to end a good meal. 

100 g Lindt 75% dark chocolate
70 g cocoa powder
75 g butter
50 g brown caramel sugar
3 large eggs
200 g brown caramel sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp salt
120 g flour
100 g chopped walnuts

20 cm cake tin
Electric beater                      
Large mixing bowl
Wooden spoon

For brownies:
Preheat oven to 180 ̊C. Grease a 20 cm cake tin with spray and cook. Melt the chocolate, 50 g sugar and cocoa powder with the butter on stove top, stirring continuously. If mixture is too stiff, loosen it a little by adding some oil. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool. Beat together the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla essence using an electric beater until creamy and thick in a large mixing bowl. Add the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and walnuts until just combined. Place mixture in cake tin and bake for 30 to 45 minutes (Depends on your oven). Before removing from the oven, prick the centre of the brownie to test whether it is cooked. Allow the brownies to cool on a wire wrack before cutting into squares. Cut the sides of the round brownie to form a square and then cut into smaller pieces. Warning, these brownies are decadent and addictive.

Heritage Day

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Our little country had a long weekend this past weekend, for those of you who didn’t know.

As blatantly arrogant and selfish as this might sound, Flip and I actually had quite a tiff about the long weekend, because we had to stay home. For those who know me quite well {and don’t worry, this isn’t an if-you-really-knew-me type do} know that I have wanderlust to the flippen max. I cannot stand being home when I know I have an extra day to explore.

All in all, I admit that I have been selfish, and that this weekend was actually quite a blast.

Before I go off on an entirely different tangent, the reason for the long weekend was because we celebrated Heritage Day. Wikipedia describes it as a public holiday on which South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their cultural heritage and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to its entire people.

To be honest, I didn’t have an idea what this day was for, but it’s a free day. Somehow, as we are South Africans in bone and marrow, the day has turned into an unofficial National Braai Day, which is how we would normally celebrate the day.

However, and although not pictured, we had a braai day of our own at friends on Sunday and being a bit bruised and battered after this debauchery, Flip and I took it slow.

As per usual, we took the pups to Gillooly’s Farm, took a long walk around the dam and relaxed with a couple of drinks. We didn’t and couldn’t stay long, as Flip had worked most of the day, and we had to take a friend to the airport. 

I left Saturday out of this little tale, but that’s another post, for another day.


In other heartbreaking news, Mila is getting spayed tomorrow and I’m fighting the tears. I’ll be away on a mine site visit, so won’t be able to even comfort my poor little baby when she gets out of the operation.
Oh! Damnit!

9 September 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The 252nd day of the year. There were only 113 days remaining until the end of the year.

But it was the end for my friend.

Melissa had been diagnosed with an aggressive ovarian-type cancer about a year and a half ago. I clearly remember the first time I received a call, when she thought something was up. “I have a tumor,” she said. “Let’s pray that it isn’t malignant.” And we prayed.

About a month after that, in the month of May, I received a phone call from my mom, on the verge of tears. “Melissa has been diagnosed with cancer, she’s with us.” I got in my car and journeyed the hour’s drive to my parents. I put the radio on. I tried not to think, tried not to cry. I rushed into my parents’ house, and my mom said she was in my room; she wanted to break the news to the boyfriend. And as I opened the door, we both burst into tears. She told her boyfriend Marnits that I just walked into the bedroom and put the phone down.

I practically jumped on her in my attempt to give her a hug. We just lay there, in hug position, crying and looking at the ceiling. It was one of the saddest moments of my existence.

For some reason she and I became estranged from each other in the time that followed. Not to speak ill of her, but I tried phoning, I tried messaging, emailing and so forth and I would never receive an answer. I decided to giver her some space, but still getting updates from friends and my mom.

I believed she would be okay. She would survive. Afterall, in December she only had two sessions of chemo left.

In February she went for another massive surgery to remove the cancer that had now filled her insides. I wasn’t there. I didn’t support her. I am still cutting myself up over this. I wanted to, but I didn’t.

Saturday, 8 September 2012, her boyfriend posted on facebook that we should pray for Melissa, as she is not well. I phoned mutual friend to ask what the matter was and went to gym. When I returned home, I had a few missed calls from him {not a good sign}.

After contacting him, asking her boyfriend if we could come visit and driving the somewhat 2 hours to Parys, Free State, I was warned that the person I was about to see was not the friend I once knew. “She might not even recognise you,” I was told.

But she knew me. She smiled when she saw me and took my hand with the frailty that was now her body. I chatted with her but got little to no response, perhaps the littlest of eye contacts.

After a few hours it had become time to leave, but I didn’t want to say goodbye, because even though I wouldn’t say it out loud that day, I knew it would be the last time I would ever say goodbye.

I kissed her hands, her forehead, her cheeks and asked if it okay if we left now. And she nodded yes, it was okay.

The next morning at 7:09 I received a phone call from Marnits. “Melissa has gone to rest. She is with the Lord now.”

I am eternally grateful that I got the chance to say goodbye.

Getting Baked with Tracy: Fairy Cupcakes

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

There are a few things a girl can't deny - chocolates, lacy underwear, shoes, lipgloss, a diamond ring, sunglasses and cupcakes {or any sort of pastry, baked goody or delicious food}! Am I right? Of course I am. And this week I bring you the first installment of a new series that will make you lick your lips, grab an apron and be a domestic goddess. 

{Who am I kidding, I'll never bake, ha} And that is exactly the reason why my friend Tracy
has offered to share her amazing talents and recipes on SFL.

I bring you, ladies and all you still-hesitant-to-bake-girls, 'Getting Baked with Tracy'.

    Light Fairy Cupcakes by Tracy Hancock

   My first baking memory is rolling sticky ginger biscuit dough into balls in my Ouma’s kitchen with my
   cousins and the smell of the freshly baked biscuits filling her house. After that my school holidays were 
   filled with baking recipes my Ouma pulled out of her Huisgenoot magazines. So, when I headed to high
   school and Home Economics was a subject I didn’t think twice. This easy cupcake recipe, courtesy of my
   Home Economics’ teacher, produces light, cute treats that are great for a tea party with the girls or any 
   light hearted event.

        Light Fairy Cupcakes
       {roughly makes 12}

       (500 ml) 250 ml cake flour
       (2 ml) 1 ml salt
       (12.5 ml) 7 ml baking powder
       (150 g) 75 g soft baking margarine or butter (salted butter is fine)
       (200 ml) 100 ml sugar
       (2) 1 large egg
       (+/- 50 ml) +/- 25 ml milk
       (2 ml) 1 ml vanilla essence
       {the measurements in brackets are if you would like to double the recipe}

450 g icing sugar
        250 g soft baking margarine
        2 ml vanilla essence
        2 ml almond essence


For the cupcake batter: Preheat oven to 220̊C. Sieve flour, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl. Soften margarine/butter with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar to margarine/butter one teaspoonful at a time, beating well after each addition using an electric beater. The mixture should be light and crumb-like.  Beat the egg lightly with a fork. Add it to the mixture using the 
 same method when incorporating the sugar. The mixture should be creamy and a lighter shade.  

 Fold in half of the dry ingredients and a little milk. Be gentle. Do not mix in the dry ingredients as this
 will remove the air that you have worked into the mixture.  Fold in the rest of the dry and ingredients     
 and milk. Add vanilla essence. The mixture must be a soft, dropping consistency. If it seems too dry, 
 add a drop of milk. Fill the paper cups with a about a dessertspoonful of the mixture. Bake at once for 
10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and decorate as desired. 

 For the icing: Cream the margarine against the sides of a large mixing bowl using the back of a wooden
 spoon. Add essences and beat, using an electric beater, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Sift icing sugar
 and add icing sugar 1/3 at a time, mixing well after every addition. Add some milk to soften, if needed.
 Add desired colouring. Be careful not too add too much colouring; a little goes a long way. Decorate 
with vermicelli or sprinkles; there are a lot of fun options available

Enjoy! Send us some recipes you would love us to try!

*All images and recipes by Tracy Hancock. Please give credit where credit is due.

Glimpses of life

Thanks to good old instagram.

In order of appearance the stars of this Instagram are:

First row: my favourite corner in the house / my second most beloved thing
Second row: My MOST beloved thing on earth / My saving grace: Oreo McFlurry
Third row: Oh sweet sweet coffee / New, and cheap, earrings

{follow me on instgram @waitingformeg} 

Wedding bliss!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Monday. It's a new week and it's time for a new leaf.
I decided to start this week on a happy note, so that I can have happy thoughts as well.


Friends of mine, Elanie and Ryno, recently tied the knot. They had a sweet and short ceremony, and I might or might not have cried from the moment she started walking down the aisle.

The venue was the whimsical Die Akker (The Acorn) just outside my hometown. It is a working farm but still felt like you were miles away from an agricultural world. Each row of seat inside had lovely verses and words of love, wisdom and encouragement. It was also such a sublime place to relax on an unusually warm day.  

 Funny story about the cake, which is pictured below. People confused the treats table - and by 'people' I include myself - with the wedding cake and dug into lovely cupcakes that were soooo inviting with their astros and icing!

Everyone laughed about it later when we realised that we had actually eating the wedding cake long before we had to.

I loved the wedding, even though Flip refused to dance with me, because he has two left feet! I made up for both of us never dancing and by the end of the night my feet were pretty raw, but it was worth it!

Thanks for inviting us Elanie and Ryno. May you have many happy, loving and prosperous years in your marriage!



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1. a period of mourning after a loss, especially after the death of a loved one: The widow had many visitors during her bereavement.
2. a state of intense grief, as after the loss of a loved one; desolation.
A close friend, which was one of my best friends in my entire life, passed away yesterday. 
I have decided to refrain from blogging this week, to mourn and to remember.
I will post again when the time is right.

How to escape a hippo (or things to do in St Lucia)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I have mentioned before that there are absolutely no shark nets in this part of the ocean. But still Flip and I went in for a dip. At least we got out of the wind and the stinging sand. Speaking of the wind, when it's blowing extremely hard, it gives you the chance to attempt the latest craze, also known as:

Next up was a Kayak Safari. Flip and I decided to grit our teeth and put normal holiday laziness aside. To point out, neither Flip and I have ever kayaked before, and we are definitely not fit, but we still thought that this would be an interesting excursion and a great story to tell!

We joined the team of St Lucia Kayak Safaris at about 8:00 am and set of for two and a half hours of rowing. We chose the Honeymoon Bend (hippo and croc) safari, which included a tourguide who told us about the birds and the wildlife we would see. Although a bit pricey, at R290 pp, it is totally worth it.

There are a few prerequisites though. I jotted them down below.

Yes, Mr Hippo over there decided that we were to close to his territory and started charging. Now, a few things about hippopotami: they are the most dangerous animal in Africa. That guy can bite you in half! I swear; they are the third largest land animal, after an elephant and rhino; despite being as huge as it is, this river horse can run faster than a human on land, reaching about 50 km/h (30mph); its also very fast in shallow water; we had to row for our lives.

We had the most delicious pizza at this place. I kid you not, I have never tasted such good pizza! My mom and I shared a four seasons type, while my dad and Flip braved a mexicana. These men weren't easily scared by the extreme burn of that pizza!

ClayHouse Designs & giveaway

Monday, September 3, 2012

             Ceramic tags by Dionne Barnes

When a hobby meets passion and creativity, the opportunities are endless.  Cape Town-based Dionne Barnes has combined these factors and found ClayHouse Designs, a fun ceramic gifts and decorations company, which products are sure to add some whimsy and talking points to your life. SFL probed a little into Dionne's life to see what makes her tick.

Why did you start this business?
 Ceramics started as a hobby. It was an opportunity to do something totally different from my "routine" day job. I started an evening class with my Mom which also gave me a wonderful chance to spend some time with her. It's in these classes that a love for clay developed. A passionate teacher & now friend taught me the ropes and never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become a career. I still don't really regard it as a job but more a passion. I had a few items for sale at a florist/gift shop in Somerset West. The owners (now friends), were always so supportive & encouraging of my work, they put me into contact with their friends, from there one thing led to another and its turned into a little business.

Where do you get your inspiration for the things you create?
I think really anything & everywhere. My clients, friends & family. I often have someone saying you know we would really like a small bowl for a gift for a friend, or I really like the colours blue and grey and this sparks an idea. I love hand-made items so sometimes a piece of fabric or a beautiful sheet of paper will give me inspiration for a colour combination. I love texture and the way clay allows you to imprint/impress into its surface, so I am always on the lookout for textured objects to use.

Explain a little about your process. 
"If clay teaches you anything it's patience" this was a remark my teacher often used and it's so true. Working with clay can be a lengthy process and, at times, its a very frustrating medium. My preferred method is hand-building, so from the raw clay I roll it out, cut my desired shape, wait for it to dry, and work off all the imperfections. Fire for the first time to +\-960 degrees C (bisque fire), decorate, glaze and fire a final time (glaze fire) to about 1200 degrees C. At any stage in the process an item can crack and even if and when it makes it to the final glaze firing there is no guarantee of success. So it can be rather tricky, but it is a wonderful feeling to open the kiln door and success!!

What has been your proudest moment since you started?       
When a client phoned me up, out of the blue, several months after they purchased some of my bowls and said how they look forward to using my bowls every morning at breakfast! It was so wonderful to hear that they enjoyed using them just as much as I enjoyed making them!

Any words of wisdom?
Try to spend some time each day/week doing what you love. I believe if you are passionate about what you do it will show in your product/service. 

If you have or are starting a small business do not underestimate the power of the Internet, blogs and social media. Some of these tools are free and if suitable to your business, can be very rewarding as it puts you into contact with clients/customers and they can give you wonderful inputs & feedback!

Where to next?
Well that's difficult to say, I try not to think too far in advance. My business is small and this allows me to shift & change as I want. I really enjoy this flexibility. Currently, I am having so much fun making my ceramic jewellery, so perhaps a few more items in different shapes to add to the collection. Who knows where the journey will take me next?

***this giveaway is now closed****

Oh goody, here comes the fun part! You can stand a chance of winning this whimsical hand painted Cheeky Bird  ceramic bowl and these super sweet ceramic earrings, worth almost R200! All courtesy of ClayHouse Designs.

Makes your Monday less blue, hey?

How to win:
(only mandatory entries)
*Like ClayHouse Designs on Facebook and leave a comment to tell me what your favourite ceramic design is

*Like Second Floor Living on Facebook

But wait, there's more:
(make sure to leave a comment for each entry, mkay?)
* Follow Second Floor Living on GFC 
Follow SFL on Twitter 

*Tweet about it
Pin a photo from ClayHouse Designs to Pinterest (tell me that you have done this)

May the best one win!
*All photos via Dionne Barnes

Spring Day!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Today is the first day of Spring! Warmer weather and happy times are ahead! Nowhere is this more evident than in my garden.

Citronella flowers

Whirligig Daisy
Peach blossom
Sweet Pea flower

Flowers don't grow out of dark moments - Corita Kent

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