The Earth Laughs in Flowers (and Hot Cross Buns)

It is the most special week on our Christian calendar. Easter… a commemoration of Christ’s suffering , death and resurrection. How wonderful to be reminded of His love for us and that it wasn’t nails that held him to the cross but His love for you and me. And that He has risen. He lives!

I love the lyrics of the song “Because He Lives” written by Gloria and William J. Gaither.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living

Just because He lives.

Easter is about family, faith and love. It is a time of togetherness and reflection. And wherever you find yourself this Easter weekend, chances are good there will be hot cross buns on your Easter menu!

The sanctity of hot cross buns, it seems, is bound up in our childhood memories: the innocent scent of yeasty, raisin-studded buns warming in the oven, redolent of butter, allspice and cinnamon filling the house. Growing up I could always count on my mom to bring home a fresh package of hot cross buns, the second they hit the shelves. Over time I followed her lead and toasted hot cross buns found their way into our Kalahari kitchen a week or two before Easter and vanish immediately after. (My kids are not too fond of raisins in their food but will endure and endulge in a hot cross bun at Easter!)


There isn’t one clear explanation for why hot cross buns make their way to our table around Easter. Some theories rest in Christian symbolism, though there are several stories (and even some tall tales) about their origins. Some talk about hot cross buns (which may have at one time been called Good Friday buns) being baked and eaten solely on Good Friday, while others mentioned them being eaten throughout Lent. But one thing is certain, over time they gained popularity, and eventually became a symbol of Easter weekend.

I know there are some great hot cross bun recipes out there, but as my two daughters and partners-in-crime-when-baking, are away at college, I will be resorting to store bought hot cross buns. And serve them with a twist. Hot Cross Buns French Toast. ( Recipe on page 2) Who can resist the smell of butter and cinnamon wafting through the kitchen on Easter weekend.

This is a quick and easy recipe and a crowd pleaser. And it is perfect for those left over buns, even long after the weekend. I wish you a blessed Easter. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow! – Aldalene


Until you come home
I’m waiting for Christmas with you

I cannot wait for this week! Lorene is writing her last school exam (ever!) and we are packing the car to head south… vacation time. After a year of restrictions, lockdowns,closed borders and not seeing loved ones, we are taking the dreaded Covid test and driving down to Cape Town for our summer and Christmas holiday.

I can already feel my mother’s hug and see my dad’s tears. I can already hear the bubbling excitement of cousins reunited, the crashing of waves outside my bedroom window…I can already feel the salty sea breeze on my face and the white sand under my toes. I am so ready!

Memories are made when gathered around the table.

The rusks are baked, the Rocky roads are made and the Christmas menu is planned. I am so excited to set my Christmas table and have my family gathered together on Christmas Eve. To set the stage for creating new memories, celebrating new and old traditions and honoring our Lord and Savior. I am looking forward to lighting the fairy lights and candles around the house and seeing the shadows dance on my children’s faces. To listen to Christmas carols ring out this special season. Because we are home…we belong.

I belong because I am loved….Yes! I have a Reason to celebrate life. He is my Reason. He is my Immanuel… despite these unprecedented. uncertain and unknown times… my God with us, now here in 2020.

So with much excitement and thankfulness, I am ready. Ready for Christmas and ready to create a home away from home this summer Ready to spoil my loved ones with a celebratory environment and an easy and delicious festive menu. Roast Lamb with some beautiful sides and then of course dessert.

My sides will be quick salads full of colour and flavor. It is summer and the days are long and warm, so what is better than a succulent roast lamb with this beautiful Cranberry and Spinach Salad. All the preparations are done beforehand and you toss the homemade dressing just before serving. I assure you it will be a great accompaniment to your Christmas table. A salad that balances sweet and sour with a good crunch from almonds and sesame seeds. Beautiful, easy and delicious.

Recipe page 2.


What if, today, we were grateful for everything?

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. I can imagine all my American friends are ready to slow down and take the time to gather with family and friends and reminisce on the months passed.

Yes, 2020 was a tough year. A year that challenged us as a family in more ways than one. But it was also a year of reflection, refocus, realigning priorities and rekindling family relationships. A year where we grew stronger together and where we were reminded to live attentively and thankfully.

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

So take the time this Thanksgiving to STOP. LOOK. GO. Make a list of everything you can be thankful for…a Gratitude list. (Numerous studies have shown that the acknowledgement of gratitude is positively correlated to happiness.) Be intentional about thanking God and others for the blessings that come our way (daily!).

Eucharisteo-thanksgiving-always precedes the miracle.

Ann Voskamp

I know you are tired of lists, but I ensure you this gratitude list will be a list that puts a smile on your face. And then there are these super easy, gorgeous and delicious Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls! Holiday entertaining has never been easier! Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s! (Can be made in advance!) It will surely bring a smile to all your loved ones gathered together during this festive time.

One just has to love cheese balls. Sweet, savory…I love mixing and matching flavors and coming up with new and exciting combinations that will please friends and family.

This cheese ball is perfect as a party appetizer while you prepare the rest of your holiday feast! It’s completely low maintenance. Just fix it up, pull it from the fridge when you’re ready, and set it out with a bunch of yummy crackers for people to serve themselves.

For the festive season, the winning combination of cream cheese, goat cheese, white cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, pecans, and chives come together for a pleasantly savory appetizer that is just as pretty as it is delicious.

Serve the mini cheese balls with a pretzel stick in them, as it makes them so easy to pick up and it looks cute too! I have covered the cheese balls in dried cranberries, chives, and pecans. I love how festive this looks! If you have an extra couple minutes, tie chives into bows around the pretzel sticks. Totally optional, but it gives such a Christmas feel to it!

I assure you your friends and family will go nuts for this make-ahead appetizer. And it will become a to-go-to recipe in your kitchen and a favorite on your gratitude ( and festive menu) list. Recipe page 2


Thanksgiving is a Word of Gratitude.

We are midway into Lorene’s final exams. Days, schedules and shopping lists are full and time is running through our fingers. So many to-do lists and so little time. But today I am taking a deep breath and taking the time to give thanks. To wake up to the wonder of the small every day things… the wonder of life.

I love the American Thanksgiving celebrations. It is not a holiday we celebrate (nationally) here in Namibia but it has become a reminder to us as a family to take time to be thankful. To highlight a day on our calendar to say ‘Thank you’. Even in a year with so many challenges, disappointments and cancellations, there is so much to be thankful for!

Deep joy is only really found at the table of thanksgiving.

Ann Voskamp

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies . And since the time of Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving had been celebrated on the last Thursday of the month. What a rich history and beautiful reminder to live a thankful and grateful life. We love sharing in our American and Canadian friends’ celebration of this day.

As a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Abraham Lincoln, 1863

The centerpiece of a contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States is a large family meal, generally centered on a large roasted turkey. It is served with a variety of side dishes which vary from traditional dishes such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, Brussel sprouts, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie. This Namibian girl will be sharing with you a delicious, easy cranberry relish that you can serve with your show stopper turkey. Turkey is not a meat you will find in our Namibian stores or on our dinner tables ( even during the festive season), so I will be serving this beautiful cranberry relish with a baked brie cheese and some crackers. However you want to serve it, I assure you this colorful cranberry accompaniment will appeal to all joined around your laden Thanksgiving table. Recipe page 2

So, with a week to go, may this Thanksgiving be more than just a day where we eat too much and strategize our Black Friday sales plan of attack. May the next week of preparing a bountiful meal with family and friends, creating a day of festive celebrations,give you enough reason to stop, breath and be thankful. Remember, giving thanks isn’t a practice reserved for a single day each year. It has deeper spiritual significance and benefits that ring true long after the leftovers are consumed. Even in a year like 2020, we have reason to say ‘ Thank You’.

For food in a world where many walk in hunger, faith in a world where many walk in fear, friends in a world where many walk alone. We give you thanks, Oh Lord. Amen.

—From Seven Days in Utopia, directed by Matthew Dean Russell

What’s In My Cup?

It’s that time of year. Shop windows fill up with brightly-coloured, twinkly light holiday displays, and living room windows fill up with Christmas trees. Festive music plays on repeat. If you’re like me, this is the time of year when you realize Christmas is fast approaching and the year went far too quickly.

For many of us, this is also one of our busiest times of the year. If you have school kids, you’re swamped with Christmas concerts, school year end functions and the thick fog of final papers and exams. After lockdown it feels like we are still trying to make up for the missed months. In between all the busyness,you want to create the most perfect family vacation and a special Christmas celebrations. Yes, November/December season is packed with parties, decorations, presents, so many events and above all, meeting everyone’s expectations.

I love this analogy I stumbled upon this week. And it reminds me of the scripture that reads “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45).

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

“Because someone bumped into me!!!”

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

*Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.*

The bumping is simply the catalyst to reveal what was tucked inside.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled or busy or frazzled or overwhelmed.

So today we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?”

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace, joy and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Friend, I do not know what is in your cup right now but if you are in any version of normal, there is a lot of coffee-infused exam nerves and cinnamon-spiced holiday stress. The demands are overwhelming and if you are like me, this time of year also brings a reflection of all the ways that 2020 did not measure up to expectations.

So today, let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others. For life will bump into us. But a heart full of Jesus doesn’t get bruised when it gets bumped.

And when the hustle and bustle of this season seems to drain you from all your good intentions and you get bumped around, there is always ice cream and coffee. Affogato is an Italian classic dessert and means “drowned” in Italian as it is essentially drowning ice cream in coffee. The hot coffee starts to melt the ice cream and forms a thick foam at the top. The best way to eat an affogato is with a spoon, eat the ice cream first and then drink the coffee along with any melted ice cream.

Affogato is so good, you won’t believe it is so elegant, easy, delicious and only needs two ingredients. Perfect to round off any festive menu or as a late night treat. I am filling my cup now! Recipe page 2


Life is a Book with Many Chapters

It is Monday morning and our seniors started with their final exams today. Yes, in Namibia our school year runs with the calendar year and our kids finish their year in December to start a new school grade in January. With Covid -19 and the pandemic that also reached us here in the southwest of Africa, there was a time when our seniors were to only write their finals in 2021.

But thankfully, with prayerful faith, meetings with top officials and hours of negotiating, our seniors could walk into the school hall today to write their Cambridge final exams and close this chapter named ‘school’. I stand in awe at how quickly this crazy but delightful season of school runs, lunch boxes and sport days went by for me as the mother of a bright beautiful young girl..

Our lives are all about chapters and seasons. 2020 may be a year for many of us where we wish we could skip some chapters, skip to THE END. As we flip through the pages of our life, and especially this year, we live through an array of emotions, actions, and circumstances. We had our ups and downs. We laughed,we cried,we won,we lost,we faltered and we grew stronger…in ourselves and in our faith.

Yes, every day adds a new page to our overall journey. Every day offers a new beginning. A chance to act, to live attentively. To start over. To try again to make something beautiful of this journey called life.

The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”

George Bernard Shaw

The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season.” It also tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” I love these scriptures, as it encourages me that seasons change and that God is working in my life and the lives of my too-quick-growing children. I can keep the faith and live expectantly! For God is the author of my (and their) life.

So in the next few weeks, we as a family are in the chapter or season called FINALS. Long days of studying, encouraging, late nights, cookies and milk, supporting, praying, biting nails, coffee on the porch, tears, giggles, hugs and chocolate. Lots of chocolate! We have already finished a batch of the most delectable Rocky Roads… and this is day one!

Whoever came up with the idea for Rocky Roads was a genius. It requires no baking, contains lots of yummy ingredients and no one expects it to look picture perfect! It is a family favorite, especially during the exams. This is a no bake cookie recipe that doesn’t require the oven, so it’s super quick and easy to make. Child‘s play! Perfect to keep a batch on hand to serve friends as they pop over and spread some holiday cheer.

The problem will be keeping your family away from it long enough to actually serve to guests! I know my pan has already been devoured and they are waiting for a refill! And we are not even close to vacation time or Christmas! Maybe it is because of exam nerves? ( Mum included!).

While Rocky Roads are the perfect easy treat to put out any time and during any season of year, it also makes for an amazing homemade holiday treat! A great homemade gift for all the teachers,coaches, friends and family over this festive season.

I love to add cranberries and flaked almonds or pistachios for a Christmas touch and then box it with a big Christmas bow! Use your imagination and add dried fruits, candied cherries, Turkish delight, Maltezer chocolate balls, white chocolate, hazelnuts, raisins, choc chips or anything you may have on hand in your pantry. This is your story, your own take on Rocky Roads.

So whatever season you find yourself in, or whatever chapter of your life story you are writing, or if you just want to reach THE END of 2020, there should be a special mention of these fudgy, chewy, and crunchy textured Rocky Road cookies. You will find this a scrumptious, indulgent and easy-to-make Rocky Road recipe. Perfect for the holiday season ( and exam chapter) and so super easy and simple to make. It will bring a huge happy smile to your face and give you the spring in your step you need for the next few weeks. Recipe on page 2.