Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Say 'Hello' to Daisy

What's more perfect for spring than a tiny, pastel yellow chick? Meet Daisy, our adorable new chicken.

Tallulah doesn't seem very interested in the little one yet, but I hope they'll become best friends. 
By the way, after the terrible incident, Tallulah has become quite attached to me 
and has taken a liking to following me around everywhere, all day long. 
She loves to sit on the chair next to me and will even chirp at the back door to be let in, 
like a little kitty cat! It's the sweetest thing!

In case you missed it, Tallulah also loves the camera...

PS. Some of you asked about the breed. We have had a variety but the Ameraucana are our favorite. 
I think they're the most friendly and good egg layers too. We love our backyard chickens!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

South Africa: Close Encounters at Tshkudu Reserve

I really don't want to boast but we had such incredible luck while on safari in South Africa!

I can't tell you how many times my mother, a flight attendant, has mentioned grumpy passengers returning home without seeing hardly any creatures in the wild.

Hearing that breaks my heart a bit, because we had such an unbelievable experience, for the entire trip! Sometimes, I have to pinch myself while looking back on all of my photos.
Honestly, this was the trip of a life time, thanks mama!

While on tour with Viva Safaris we spent a day at  Tshukudu Reserve. The private grounds have wild and rehabilitated animals roaming around, including a very friendly pet cheetah. At first, I thought it was a crazy idea to pet a semi-wild cheetah but she was one of the sweetest animals I've ever encountered. Apparently, she roams the open grounds, befriends the guests and then heads out to hunt on her own.

The highlight of this day was a very close encounter with some elephants! Maybe I'm biased because they're one of my favorite animals, but this was an incrediably special moment. We approached a male elephant throwing a tantrum and tearing down a tree. Watching that felt exciting enough...

Then, suddenly three more elephants came bounding out of the bush, including a a three week old baby! I was sat in the lucky seat that day, these elephants came so close to our jeep that I could have reached my hand out five inches to touch them (of course I didn't!). No joke, they we so close that I had to lean back just to capture them with my camera and one of the females almost stuck her trunk in the jeep at us. Fortuntately, I was able to record most of it, see what I mean about being so lucky!?

We followed them into the bush and quietly observed the little baby learning to use her trunk. Adorable!

We also caught up with a pair of (not as friendly) leopards...

Our guides led us to find a bunch of lions too!

Later we spotted a pair of rhinos...whose horns have to be safely removed to avoid terrible poachers.

As the sun set we came across the old lion again, doesn't he look spooky here?

Heading home as the sun began to set...

It's incredible how much open land is out there, we felt completely lost in nature yet, at the same time I felt so embarrassed for us as a species due to our massive destruction of land, plants and animals.  Where do you dream of going for your 'trip of a life time'?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Visiting The Senator

This post is in coordination with one of my favorite blogs, Design Mom. Today she is hosting a 'Love the Place You Live' link up (check it out right here). 
So, I thought it would be nice to share one of my favorite local activities, nature walks.

Nature is most definitely one of my favorite things about growing up in Florida, 
I only wish there was less destruction of it all. 

I took these photos last month when my Dutchman was visiting Florida. We went to visit The Senator, a local landmark who once stood at 125 feet tall!

This magnificent tree has been around for about 3,500 years! It was the 5th largest tree in the world but unfortunately, tragedy struck and The Senator burned down just last month. I remember visiting this tree growing up and it's so special that we made it for one last visit just in time.

Here are a few more photos from our nature walk that day...


What's something you love about where you live?

South Africa: Morning Dew

During our safari portion of the trip, we experienced some pretty grey, dismal weather. It was actually quite helpful because so many animals came out from hiding. 
During an early morning walk, I was completely mesmerized by the morning dew on leaves and flowers and often found myself lagging behind the rest of the group in order to get another shot.  
Like I promised last week, here are few... 


Is there anything in particular you love to capture when it comes to photographing nature? 

February Photo a Day: Week 5

Find out more about this month's photo fun right here or look for #Febphotoaday on twitter...

Day 27: Something I ate (lunch with Emmabunny!)           Day 28: Money (well spent)

                                                           Source: via kate on Pinterest

                         Day 29: Listening to 'Midnight in Paris' soundtrack

Goodbye February, that's it for the #febphotoaday challenge! See more here if you wish.
Will you be joining in March as well?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pizza Perfection

Once the 'one-month' 'til departure bell rang I felt a huge rush of motivation to get everything checked off my home time to-do list...down it's down to just a few more weeks! One thing I love about being back here is cooking fun dinners with good friends.

If you've been following my blog, then you're probably already familiar with my love of pizza and especially making pizzas at home! One of the very best things about being home was spending tons of time with one of my dearest friends, Ellie. We first bonded over our love of anthropology, pizza and pet chickens working retail in college and have spent countless nights catching up over beers after yoga (no, in fact it is not counterproductive, don't judge) and day trips to St. Augustine

Ellie is an extraordinary friend for many reasons, one being that she loves dreaming up and testing out crazy food flavors with me. YUM.  We recently spent a Friday night making the history of our homemade pizza endeavors!

Now, you know I can get serious with pizza and this had all of the magical taste components: salty+sweet (homemade balsamic reduction)
a lil' bitterness (arugula)
creamy+tangy (Gorgonzola)
garlicky (guess what that's from)
perfectly crunchy whole grain crust (with seeds!)


Seven steps to our pizza party (which we completely made in the moment)

1. let dough rise, toss it out with flour, stretch to fit an oiled cookie sheet 
(for fancy people use a pizza stone)
2. chop up required veggies, measure out cheeses, set aside
3. mix a few tablespoons of olive oil + crushed garlic + salt + herbs, stir together and smooth over the dough and bake at 450 F for 10-15 minutes
4. remove dough from over, poke out the holes, arrange all the ingredients except the arugula
5. bake at 450 F about 15-20 minutes...
6. in the mean time whip up some balsamic reduction with 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar + 3 tablespoons honey, stir constantly while boiling about 10 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a small bowl, a pinch of salt to taste
7. when the pizza is cooked to your desired crispness, remove from the oven and sprinkle a few handfuls of fresh arugula with a hearty drizzle of balsamic reduction on top

If you like the aforementioned ingredients then please make this pizza at home. Try to savor it, 'cause we couldn't, it was simply too tasty...and then it was gone. What does your favorite pizza consist of?

Friday, February 24, 2012

South Africa: Bush Walk Safari

One of the reasons we felt compelled to go with Viva Safari Tours was for the opportunity to take an early morning walk through the South African bush. We really looked forward to wandering through the fresh morning dew with only our cameras and a few knowledgeable guides I really enjoy the outdoors and this was definitely a unique experience that isn't really possible without the entire safari package.

Along with various other safari drives, the bush walk proved an educational and exciting experience. We learned a lot about the local flora and fauna and many animals other than the famous Big Five. Setting out with such an early start made me reminiscent of my experiences at summer camp. Except this time it was in South Africa and a lot more fun than hanging out with Girl Scouts, let's just say I was more keen on actually paying attention this time around.

Since it's Friday and I'm joining Ellen + friends over at CompanyofClever for her list link up. This safari story will start out with a list of three necessities for a successful walk in the bush...

ONE: Obviously, the first necessity for any fun filled safari are short shorts. It's pretty self explanatory why they made all of  us giggle (the joke continued throughout our entire trip!) Spotting the elusive short shorts were probably one of the most entertaining sights to see. (If people at the Tremisana Lodge are reading this I know you're all laughing a bit now too. Thanks for keeping us so entertained!)

TWO: Sitting up front in the spotting seat, well at least it was a dream of mine! Can you believe no one else took their chance at a silly picture like this?! I mean come on, we're on a safari! Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me sit up there when the jeep was actually moving but it's also pretty great I didn't die, so that's a win-win for us all.

Three: Hmm, maybe artillery should probably be higher up this list. You know with all of those wild animals roaming around...but since shots weren't fired on this particular trip I didn't feel all that worried.

So yes, we felt safe because our insightful guides were fully prepared with rifles (and short shorts) and... blackberries!? Seriously? Can you even get service out in the bush? It's handy to have a rifle around just in case hippos tried to trample our group and I'm no outdoors expert but do the rifles still work properly while texting on your blackberry? Disclaimer: Don't freak out our guides we're totally on top of things and we felt really safe!

I was also surprised to learn that, apparently, it isn't lions, poisonous snakes or crazed rabid monkeys who kill the most people but instead the big fat hippo. These giant, lazy mammals just barrel over people who are gathered along the river bank.

Then, guess what we stumbled upon as soon as we approached the river...a group about 15 of hippos and their babies. We had a lucky chance to get up pretty close, now that's a moment where those rifles felt very reassuring.

Our guides stood at attention on either side of our group and communicated with some pretty fancy hand signals until it was safe for us, in quiet little clusters, to climb up to the river's edge and snap some quick pictures. Unfortunately, by the time it was my turn, most of them had caught on to our little plan and decided to slip into the reeds to hide. Despite that, it was a pretty exhilarating experience out there in the middle of nowhere with some humongous, wild hippos only a few yards away. Especially after the guides had only recently explained how dangerous these animals can be. One of the guides (yes, the one who rocks the infamous short shorts) happened to mention the only time he's ever had to shoot anything for safety it was an angry hippo. How comforting!

We trekked along the waters edge before stopping for a light morning snack around 8am and spotted another two fat hippo in the water. Then we continued on through the wilderness as our guides explained the brightly colored bugs, fresh animal tracks and different bird songs. 



This tiny velvet mite is even smaller than this image in real life. 
You notice them everywhere once you spot the first one...
Some type of poisonous millipede
Chinese Lantern, one of my favorite flowers
Dung beetles doing what they do best

How adorable is this teeny tiny flower? 

It was amazing what a trained eye can spot, the guides even found a tiny scorpion! The dew drops were so pretty that morning so check back next week for the second part of the bush walk with lots of nature photos. Hope you enjoyed today's post, have an adventurous weekend!

Want to read more about South African? Check out what to pack, Safari in Kruger Park part one and part twoJohannesburg, the Cradle of Mankind and Sterkfontein cavesPlus, close encounters with a cheetah, elephants on paradepetting baby lionsflora and fauna, driving the garden route to Geofrey's Bay and the Addo Elephant Park

*Don't forget to head over to Company of Clever to see which other bloggers have linked up today!

Company of Clever