Life and Lemons

brown plant and flowers

I cannot believe we are one third into 2021. It has been a whirlwind few months with many changes in our home… we are all still trying to adjust to a new normal. Children are far off at college, our house is quiet and we are adjusting to a so called new-normal. 2020 has shown us that nothing stays the same for long–rather, seasons come and go naturally with the predictable (and unpredictable) transformations that our world endures.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

– Alan W. Watts

The change of seasons excites me! Days are becoming shorter, evenings longer. I love autumn! As summer’s light dims and the leaves begin to fall, I like autumn’s reminder that a meaningful life isn’t only about productivity, but transition too.

Autumn is a time of beauty, of harvesting and of shedding the old. While autumn is a time of productivity, it is also a time of completion and transition.I love the quote that reads: If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.

Discerning the seasons of our lives isn’t always easy. The Book of Ecclesiastes says there’s ‘a season for every activity under heaven’ it is wonderful to know that our Lord is involved in all this too. God has tasks for us to do, seasons for us to do them in, and wants to guide us through each of them. I am reminded every day through this new season that it is all a choice- a choice to live expectantly. To live attentively. To live with significance. And embrace the seasons of life.

Breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit! And with all the beautiful lemons in season, I am tempted to bake these easy lemon bars. These are classic lemon bars featuring a soft butter shortbread crust and a tangy sweet lemon curd filling that’s baked to the perfect consistency. The lemon layer is thick and substantial, not thin or flimsy like most other lemon bar recipes.

Lemon bars are one of the EASIEST desserts to make but they’re guaranteed to bring a smile to your face; so bright and zingy with all the lemon flavour from the juice and zest, they’re simply irresistible! So Yes! When life gives you lemons- bake lemon bars!!

Recipe on page 2.


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


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


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.


Where there is a perfect pancake flip (and rain),there is life.

The first drops of rain falls on the parched Kalahari soil…. dark thunder clouds creep closer with the promise of rain…. the thunder rolls in the distance. Excitement is tangible. The first summer rains are on their way!

Living in the Kalahari desert gives you an appreciation of every drop of water! Few things can compare with the smell of the red Kalahari earth when the rain falls on dry arid ground. It brings back special childhood memories with the three kids sitting on the porch, eating freshly baked cinnamon-sugar pancakes and watching the rain cascade down the thatch roof. The smiles of happy children and the thankful look on my farmer husband’s face, fill my heart to overflowing. God is faithful. God is good.

No matter how powerful a man, he cannot make the rains fall on his farm alone.

African Proverb

With the rain comes my mother-in-law’s ‘pannekoek’ (pancakes) recipe. Yes, when the first drops fall, one of the girls will start mixing the batter. Pannekoek is the Afrikaans word for pancake, but this is not like an American pancake. Flat and thin, a pannekoek is more like a version of a French crêpe than the fluffy, buttermilk pancakes we love to eat in America.

The pannekoek batter is runny and not sweetened — one pancake generally fills up the whole pan. It is cooked on both sides and then it can be filled with savory or sweet fillings for either entrées or desserts.

The Kalahari kitchen Pannekoek way is with plenty of cinnamon sugar, melted into the rolled up pannekoek with a dash of fresh lemon juice. With a pinch of nostalgia for good measure. The waft of cinnamon sugar literally pulls you towards the kitchen and the kids ( and dad) stand around for another round of freshly baked pannekoek.

First off, this is an easy one bowl pannekoek recipe that takes no effort at all. You simply add all the wet ingredients (water, eggs and oil) in a bowl with an electric hand mixer at the ready.

Next you just add the dry ingredients little by little while beating with the electric mixer until the batter is smooth. I let my batter stand for half an hour before adding the vinegar. I now scoop about a ladle full into a hot non stick pan.

Tilt the pan when you pour the batter in, to spread it out all over the pan. Once the pancake batter starts pulling away from the sides, with bubbles in the batter on top, it’s ready to flip and cook for a few more seconds. Now serve with cinnamon sugar and lemon juice or any other delicious filling your heart desires on this rainy Monday afternoon.

So armed with flour, eggs, milk, oil and a thankful heart, I am heading off to the kitchen to flip some pancakes. Because ‘Rain showers my spirit, and waters my soul.’ ~ Emily Logan Decens

Recipe page 2


Hot Kalahari Days and Milkshakes

What a crazy busy day…week… All I want to do is make myself a double-thick milkshake, kick off my shoes and sit on the porch and breath! It is Lorene’s long awaited prom this Friday and it is all the last minute craziness ( throw in the stylist that calls to say she is in hospital with Covid!)… a heatwave that drains all the last energy from everyone and finals that are looming around the corner.

I am reminded time and time again to stand still…take a deep breath and give attention to what I am giving attention to. Life is not to be lived in overdrive… always running on empty. Life is to be lived to the fullest. But it takes time…time to stand still. To reset and renew and refuel. Refuel on milkshakes.

Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.

Paul Cezanne

So on this hot Thursday, I am grabbing the ice cream tub ( I never need an excuse for ice cream!), glass of milk, a shot of liqueur and a red and white straw. It is time for a milkshake with a twist.

Don Pedro is one of South Africa and Namibia’s most popular cocktails. You can practically find it on almost every single restaurant menu in the country. A Dom Pedro is normally found on the drinks menu, but it is more often ordered as a dessert. It is for sure my favorite dessert after a big evening meal. And the perfect drink to see you through a heatwave like today!

This is not your average milkshake or cocktail. It is made with a mixture of ice cream and cream or milk, laced with a shot of your favourite cream liqueur, and sprinkled with grated dark chocolate. It is normally served in a wine glass, with a straw wide enough to allow the bits of ice cream to flow through. Pure bliss.

In fact, the Don Pedro drink is very similar to the typical Irish coffee beverage, just minus the coffee element. Just think of a Don Pedro cocktail as a milkshake for adults or a delicious ice cream cocktail.

The addition of smooth Amarula liqueur lights up the Don Pedro and lends it a fruity undertone. The best part is that you can alter the portions of the ingredients and make the beverage as strong as you want. You can also experiment with other types of alcohol like coffee liqueur, kahlua, and brandy. This homemade cocktail is best served immediately topped with grated chocolate, cocoa powder or a stick of chocolate.

It is double-thick, ultra creamy, fabulously boozy, laced with liqueur and topped with dark chocolate! What is not to love?

So I am thinking this is a perfect dessert for a celebration of any kind. I’m thinking a Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas Eve Celebration or just a normal hot busy Thursday evening would be a pretty great time to serve one of these special cocktails. Because every day needs to be celebrated!

Recipe page 2


The Best Time for New Beginnings (and cake) is now.

Good morning from a beautiful flourishing Kalahari. Everything is in bloom and spring is jumping and skipping through the savannah landscape. Thorn bushes are softened by blossoms, and the night echoes to the calls of amorous barking geckos (the quintessential sound of the Kalahari). Meerkat pups venture outside their dens for the first time, gemsbuck calves and springbuck lambs frolic in the dry grass. There is a palpable sense of anticipation as we await the summer rains.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.

Isaiah 35:1

Yes, it is a challenging year and we are all ready for change and new beginnings. Everywhere I go, I cut off a flowering branch full of blossoms, as a reminder that spring is a period of renewed beauty. Spring breathes upon us the spirit of hope and promise. There is the realization of new beginnings, new energies, and new life.

So today I am celebrating all the beauty around me. We may have missed out on family gatherings, birthday celebrations and memorable events but still we baked! It seems like we were all #quarantinebaking through the coronavirus pandemic. On Instagram, Facebook and Youtube everyone is sharing their new baking skills and recipes. A scroll through my social media feeds is akin to a trip to a local bakery!

But, no matter the reason why everyone is baking ( for who needs to justify making an amazing cake), I am sharing my mother’s ultimate, best, amazing, easy carrot cake recipe with you. This is most probably the cake recipe that I have had the most recipes requests for. There isn’t another recipe that I’ve ever tried that even comes close to this carrot cake recipe for flavor, moistness, and texture. It is topped with an easy homemade cream cheese frosting. Yes, this is hands down the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. Period.

So if you are looking for an easy, delicious foolproof cake to turn your day into a joyous celebration, grab your apron. All I need today is an excuse to sit on the porch with a cup of coffee, a big slice of moist carrot cake and a heart of thankfulness because of a new season.

Recipe on next page to ensure easy sharing and printing. Happy baking!


The Welcoming Smell of Choc Chip Cookies

It is a typical Monday in the Kalahari….cleaning the house after a fun filled- house- full -of -teenagers- music -thumping-weekend, doing loads and loads laundry and staring into empty pantry cupboards!

Lockdown has allowed the time for rekindling friendships,creating new memories and having a daily dirty kitchen!

But, I just love seeing my children develop special friendship bonds, making true connections and seeing them thrive in their ‘tribe’. I love that their friends walk into our home and straight into the kitchen. I love the sound of the coffee maker making the umpteenth cup of coffee, the sounds of laughter filling the house and the welcome smell of (yet another) batch of fresh choc chip cookies!

Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love.

Zig Ziglar

I believe a warm welcome invites connection. So until my kids are grown and gone ( or lockdown allows them to return to college), I will keep the door wide open. I will have something baking in the oven (or have enough choc chips in the pantry!) and embrace the latest music trend- because all will be quiet before I know it!

So on this Monday morning, I am making a cup of coffee and taking a moment ( between laundry and dishes) to cherish the memories of a house filled with kids. A house full of love, laughter and life! And of course, I am having another choc chip cookie!

Read More

Weekend Bliss (with chocolate of course)

Another week has passed.. a new normal starting to emerge amid Covid-19, masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing. Weekends are our time to recap, recover and dream about a life as we have known it…. But is is also time to rediscover new recipes! As a family, we try and cut the sugar and carbs during the week. So come Friday, everyone is craving something sweet and this weekend we whipped up delicious, delectable, desirable( did I say delicious?) Millionaire’s Shortbread. Known as Millionaire’s Shortbread, presumably because they are so rich, they consist of a crisp shortbread base with an indulgent salted caramel filling that’s topped with a layer of dark chocolate – pure heaven! What more can a girl (or her family) want?

May your life be filled, as mine has been, with love and laughter; and remember, when things are rough all you need is…. CHOCOLATE

Geraldine Solon, Chocolicious
Read More