Today I’ve been at the Christmas fair at Ngong race course. Saw some lovely stuff and made a dint in my Christmas shopping list! It inspired to make some hand soap. Its really simple. Just grate a bar of soap into a pan of boiling water, simmer for 2 minutes until it melts then leave to cool and transfer into a container. For 500ml, use 1/4 bar of soap. I added a drop of red food colouring to make it pink and some Ylang Ylang oil for fragrance.
Seem to be in a pink mood – see dessert we made for dinner. Just blended a frozen banana with some frozen strawberry juice and voila – strawberry and banana sorbet.
Does your Christmas tree need some extra decorations but you dont want to spend loads of money. You could try and make these cinnamon decorations. It’s fun, easy and will look great on your tree.
Make some salt dough
50g plain flour
50g table salt
1 tbs ground cinnamon
Mix dry ingredients together then add about 5oml water – I didnt measure this so add it tablespoon by tablespoon and knead the mixture until you have a smooth dough, not too sticky, not too dry. If its too sticky add more flour.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/2 cm thick.
Then get creative and cut out shapes in your dough. You can use biscuit cutters if you have them. I cut round some card templates and kept the shapes small and dainty. Put a hole in each shape using a thin straw, biro or cocktail stick. Make sure it goes all the way through but dont damage your shape!
Bake your shapes in the oven at 100 c for 1 hour, until they are hard. Depending on the size and thickness it may take longer. Leave to cool and then paint. You can use acrylic paints or water colours. You can be creative and use glitter or glitter glue. The cinnamon makes them smell delicious but dont be fooled into eating one. They taste disgusting with all that salt.
They look lovely left natural with a few white dots or stars on them. I used reds, greens and whites. After drying you can finish with a coat of clear varnish to protect them.
Thread a string through the hole then hang on your tree or twigs. I got some twigs from the garden and sprayed them with gold paint. Home made decorations to keep or give away as presents!
Ethiopians love their coffee and hours are spent in ceremonial preparation of the black nectar. They roast, brew, decant , boil again until they have the perfect, smooth blend. I’m just back from Ethiopia with a kilo of their finest coffee beans. What I hadn’t realized when I placed my order for the beans was that they would be un-roasted, green beans. More on how I dealt with them later!
The hotel where I was staying came with its own coffee shop where we could get free coffee at every break. It felt like having my own barista and by the end of the week he had my order made to perfection. I joked that I would have to take him back to Nairobi with me and on my last day he looked rather too hopeful. I half expected to see his bags packed and ready to go!
He did make a wicked macchiato!
Back home with my green coffee beans…….. I needed to quickly become an expert roaster.
After a bit of research I found a good method that I could do at home. And my beans went from the picture on the left to the one on the right. Made quite a bit of smoke and debris but now have lovely home roasted coffee!! And if coffee smell sells houses, people from the next suburb will be queuing up to see ours (not that its our to sell
I was sat choosing which salad to have whilst 1km down the road the start of a nightmare was unfolding. We had driven towards Westlands first to look at a car for sale and then to drop into a friends house for coffee. One of my favourite places to have lunch was a short ride away (Amani) and that’s where we were when I heard a brief news report on the radio playing in the background. Something about hostages, kidnapping, gunshots……nothing too shocking for when you live in East Africa but then I heard the location. Westgate Mall. Its a fancy shopping centre that we often drive past. When we arrived in January last year it was in our security plan to avoid. Mainly as it had been listed by Al Shabab as a potential terrorist target and attracted high profile customers. Over time the threat was no longer mentioned and it seemed ridiculous to imagine that a shiny, upmarket shopping market could be a risk. I’ve met business colleagues in the ground floor cafe for meetings and had my hair cut on the top floor.
Like most people we go about our daily lives with potential threats somewhere in the back of our minds but you cant live in fear and wonder if its safe to go and buy groceries on a Saturday afternoon. As we left Amani one of their friendly staff members hurried out after us. “Where are you going?” she asked urgently. “You should go home. There have been gunshots in Westlands and police are telling people to keep away”. She said she would pray for our safety and wished us peace as we left. As I write this I’m thinking about the people who started their day off like us but didn’t have the warning to stay away; they took their kids to see a movie, grabbed a coffee with their partner or stopped off to pick up a paper and what started off as a normal day turned into a living hell. Sat with news stream online we watched the terrible story unfold one victim at a time. The news teams were quick on the ground and initially, dangerously close to the action. The gruesome footage started to appear and I struggled to remind myself that this wasn’t a film playing out, this was my city, showing views familiar to me and a horrible thought – maybe with some of my friends caught up inside. Tweets gave chilling detail – man who received a call from a worried friend got shot when his mobile rang. Women shot when she didn’t know the name of The Prophets mother. Children’s cookery show underway on the rooftop….Muslims asked to identify themselves and walk free. Would I have the conviction of my faith to stay and die? Incredible acts of heroism also reported. This was posted on a friends FB page
”We will prevail. Because : Little children pushed other children out of harms way. Children pulled children to safety. Kenyan police ran into harms way for us with no helmet, no bullet proof vests and regular shoes. A Muslim man wrote a short prayer on a piece of paper for a Christian man he was hiding with and helped him to memorize it in case the terrorists asked him to say something from the Quran. The Secretary General of the Red Cross, put on a volunteers vest and went on site to work with his paramedics. The Kenya Defense Forces went in there like superheroes. No hospital turned a patient away. Blood banks were full before they were empty again. #KOT outrage on NY Times images made them pull those images off. Heaven was filled with prayers and questions.
Im back in the land of baobabs and lemurs and a place very close to my heart. Nearly nine years ago Chris proposed to me here and I have the engagement ring he bought here to prove it. I’m in Madagascar!
This time it’s for work and there’s no Chris, so opportunities for romance; nil. Still I have been booked into a lovely hotel – all hewn mellow wood, artisanal accessories and a bed the size of a London spare room.
The management have taken the advice of Tripadvisor’s contributors and covered up the massive round hole in the bathroom wall giving direct line of sight from the toilet to the bed. “What can we see today through the round window?”
“Madagascar is what’s officially known as a biological hotspot, a self-contained reserve of unparalleled natural diversity, value and potential. There are eight endemic plant families, eighty different chameleons – half the species in the world – and most of the planet’s orchids. It’s the only place where you can see lemurs”AA Gill. So what great mammalian marvel did I spy when I was sat on my hotel balcony this afternoon? Two rats! They scuttled round the building and made a beeline for the fire escape.
There are two vegetarian choices on the menu and Ive already eaten one of them. It could be a gastronomical void. Everything on the menu sounds better in French or maybe it’s their interesting translation. Even I know that puree de pomme de terre isn’t potatoe porridge (their spelling not mine!!). Ive started on my rations – a packet of marshmallows. The only trouble is they are crucial to the team building activity Ive planned on Wednesday. Maybe I can improvise with mashed potato!!
A day in my life: I have just returned from leading a workshop in South Sudan. In what other job would you get to challenge people to make a spaghetti and marshmallow tower, make a frog out of Plasticine and … Continue reading →
A massive blaze at Jomo Kenyatta airport has engulfed the International arrivals. The airport remains closed and all flights in and out of the airport are cancelled. Amazingly noone was hurt. On the footage I saw one fire engine tackling the fire. There is no public emergency service here so its down to private companies. I wonder how many fire extinguishers there were in the airport and if they worked.
I am currently in South Sudan and hoping to travel back to Nairobi on Friday. Hope it will be open by then or it could be a long route back!!
Ironically it is 15 years to the day that the US Embassy in Nairobi was bombed by Al Qaeda. The cause of the fire hasn’t been announced yet but it wont be long before the conspiracy theories start.For example some people are saying it is linked to the duty free shops being cleared of all stock just four days ago (that’s true, I saw it). There was also a fuel shortage at the airport. Coincidence or are they linked (read story).
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those stranded at the airport and those whose travel plans are affected by the fire.