Welcome to my Blog!

Hi there, nice to have you visiting! I'm Heidi and this is the blog for Heidi Bears. Here is where I post all the happenings in my work and daily life. Here and there you'll find info on things that have caught my attention as well as the odd tutorial. I hope you enjoy your visits. I love to have feedback, so leave me a comment!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle...

What a busy day the last of 2011 has been! I woke up this morning to a garden gone absofrikinlutely wild. When we arrived home last night it was raining and dark and I didn't even look at the garden. I got up at 5am to get ready for work, and as I walked to the car, there was enough light to see the armageddon of the flora...it must have rained virtually non stop since we went on holiday because truly, you cannot imagine how out of control the lot was! The grass is long, the vegetables have all bolted and were standing in slimy bases...a heckofamess :(

After doing the first round of the day, I came home to watch the kids, Gerry then going off to see patients. The child minder then didn't arrive, so I couldn't get back to the hospital because there was no one to watch the little cherubs ;) , so essentially the day suddenly turned into an opportunity to start sorting out the mess...
I started yanking out bolted lettuce, basil, cauliflower, rotten peas, mildewed marrows etc... I worked for two hours straight and managed to get through about two and half boxes. As I went, I harvested loads of stuff. Surprisingly, there were remarkably few pests...I encountered one snail, 3-4 tiny slugs, a couple of chafer beeltes hiding in the soil and saw the evidence of a caterpillar's visit in the shredded leaves of the cauliflowers...BUT, a lot of the plants were covered with powdery mildew. This doesn't worry me as much...I'll spray with Margaret Roberts' Organic Fungicide...that will sort it out :) When it started to rain, I took my pots of bounty in and started cleaning...I was most ridiculously pleased with myself because I tried to see what was happening on the potato front...since this is my first season of vegetable growing, I thought it would be a mess, but NO! I have grown grogeous, white, perfect potatoes!!!!! Whoo Hoo!!!!!!

I will tell you this for free...seeing something a silly as a green bean growing, has made me feel like I am the gardener of the year! So easy, yet so self pleasing :) I grew some yellow lemon cucumbers. They are the round yellow balls of prettiness near the carrots (yellow, white, orange and purple). They are really sweet and taste a bit lemony, and grew far better than the regular long green cucumbers. I have been amazed how lonnnggg it takes for a carrot to grow, it's like growing a baby, I swear!

The marrows are ginormous...not yet sure in what and how I am going to put them to use...the yellow marrows are lovely and bright yellow, the squashes little zebra perfect balls and the strawberries fat and red...Tomorrow, I will see what else awaits. The boxes are so overgrown (can you believe? in just 12 days!), that I can't get to the back ones easily, so I haven't gone to see what's happening there yet :)

My poor fence has also seen the worst of the continuous rain...it has rusted badly...another thing my gardener will have to tackle when he comes back from leave..."gardener" , in this case is a very enthusiastic word...James is a great guy, a whizz at painting, carrying, helping... but really...green fingered he is not! He has been with us for long enough that I have worked out that it either grows by itself or it perishes.
I once found him carefully picking my newly sprouted seedlings , one at a time between two pinched fingers, proudly telling me he is ridding the garden of "weeds"...
In South Africa, you would now say "Eish!"....

So what have a learned from my first season growing my own vegetables?
1. Plant less lettuce.
2. Plant less cauliflower.
3. Plant less broccoli.
4. Plant less lettuce.
5. Plant less lettuce....getting the drift here?
6. Companion plant!
7. "Little Finger" carrots taste the best.
8. Squashes have nasty , prickly thorns on every part of their anatomy...wear gloves!
9. Organic does work.
9. Always plant Borage with your strawberries...it WORKS!
10. You do NOT need eighteen different tomato varieties...just because they are pretty and different colours, doesn't mean you cannot live without them...
11. Tomato plants get ginormous! Eighteen different varieties get even ginormouser!
12. SUCCESSION PLANT! The Holy Grail of vegetable gardening... (I haven't even come close to getting this right...)
13. Potatoes and Horseradish are friends...good friends!
14. You cannot tell how big a carrot is from looking at the size of the foliage :(
15. Pick beans often or the plants stops making them .
16. Peas don't like wet feet.
17. Everything grows much bigger than you think...planting hundreds of seeds in a square meter of earth (just in case), does not help...
18. Crushed egg shells prevent snails from eating your strawberries.
19. Plant rhubarb earlier next time, plant brocolli and cauliflower later...
20. When the recommended spacing for squashes and marrows is a metre, there may be a good reason for that...(my marrows are filling half the garden, and laugh at the pathetic box I tried to contain them in)
21. If I can grow stuff, then anyone can!

I must have done something right, because as I was yanking out bolted plants, earthworms the size of small snakes came out of the ground...this is a good thing isn't it? They were as fat as my little finger! I suspect it will take at least a week of hard gardening to get the equilibrium re-established. Oh, that's another thing I learned...your back will so not hold after two hours of bending over...get raised boxes! Hallelujah for raised vegetable beds!

Tomorrow, I am hoping to take the girls to see Sherlock Holmes 2...have any of you see it yet? Is it as awesome as I suspect it's going to be? I am a huge RDJ fan, so I can't wait!

I am now going to have a nice warm bath to ease my poor gardening back, and read some more of a new Kindle book I downloaded...it's called "Killer Instinct: Charlie Fox Book 1" by Zoe Sharp...so far it's excellent! It's a kind of girl Jack Reacher type novel...Charlie Fox is actually a woman, and of course, she is just as cool as 'ol Jack (I am a card-carrying, certified Jack Reacher groupie...). It's getting interesting ...

Have a wonderful (and safe) New Year everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Farewell dear ocean shores! The pain....

So today we bid farewell to our beloved Cintsa. It is always a bittersweet time, the longing to stay war-ring with the desire to see our other home and our Flashy... Cintsa has become such a special place for us, a refuge and a place of restoration...
We went to the beach in the morning , then packed up and sorted out the house...and wound our way to the airport.
The flight was turbulent to say the least and I came off as nauseous as I was during my pregnancies! I am a terrible flyer...in fact, I hate flying...the problem of course being that I don't relish the thought of sitting in a car for 12 hours driving through the heat of day just to drop dead from boredom and exhaustion at the end of it all...so flying becomes a lesser evil to endure :)
Gerry on the other hand LOVES flying ( :P ), and has no trouble at all with flying nausea. When we flew to Verbier a couple of years ago, I vomited non stop for nearly 24 hours...towards the end I gave up all pretense of wanting to continue my existence on earth, and pleaded silently for the end to now just come, dammit! Such are the vagaries of modern travel....

Yesterday, while I was standing on our bedroom balcony, I saw dolphins in the water, and thought I would snap a few pics...what a sweet surprise to have unexpectedly captured a leaping dolphy, right at the very edge of my shot! They really are very playful creatures! Debbie's son was swimming along with them for a long time one day, and he said that they are naturally very curious, coming up to him constantly to see what this was in the water with them... :)

When we landed at the airport, I took a very poor, blurry photo of Emmanuelle under the lighted reindeer...makes me a little nostalgic for Christmas again...ah well, 2012 is soon underway and before you know it...Christmas will be here again!

Tomorrow, it's back to work bright and early...wish me strength folks...first day back is always tough!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Knitting on the Beach... The Needle(s) has landed...

Despite my love of for this area and my deep appreciation for the sea and the beach, I must admit to having less than stellar feelings about cold water, sea or not. Although we are on the East Coast of Africa , hence a much warmer current (Indian) than the West Coast (the freezing Atlantic), the water here is wayyyyyy too cold for my liking. So it happens that every year, I need to psych myself up to brave the frigid waves and do my annual "swim". The verb "swimming" is used here with a great deal of artistic licence, my foray into the great blue being more of an attempt to stay upright against crashing waves as I slowly advance ....one numbing foot after the other. Gerry and Aliki use wetsuits to keep out the cold, but Emmanuelle has no cold temperature sensors in her skin, and will dive headlong in, rain, shine, hurricane, icebergs.... regardless. As I mentioned before, the sea is very treacherous here, and a rip can take you out towards Australia within a heartbeat. Yesterday, despite the presence of several lifeguards, it took my friend Pete and his daughter being towed out rapidly , to realize that there was a powerful current and that people were getting stuck way out, unable to make their way back in to shore. Pete and Emma were fine...he grew up on the beach, so these things are taken in his stride, but the lifeguards had to go in an rescue several people.
I have made a rule about our kids swimming...we always have a lifesaver bouy or two and a pair of long flippers when we go to the beach.
So, back to my swalk (:) *swim/walk)... I went in as far as my neck , patted myself proudly on the back for a job well done! and went and sat wrapped up on a deck chair on the beach.
Now for the good bit...my knitting :)

Remember when I wrote about the Knit Companion App?...I have modified and set up a charted pattern for Poppy Socks, and all I needed on the beach, was my iPad and knitting....happy as a pig in mud! The Poppy socks started with me seeing a colour scheme that I really liked...a sky blue/turquoise/greeny variegated blend with scarlet next to it...so I dyed up some sock yarn and fiddled with the pattern for a bit. I started with a plain toe, but changed it so that the poppies start straight away. Hopefully this test knit will be fine, and as soon as I am done, I will put the charted pattern up on Ravelry. I have been using the Red Lace Chiaogoo's...these are fabulous circs! Go out and buy yourself a pair as a New Year's gift...you're worth it ;)

Yesterday I went for a long walk along the beach. It was still fairly early and there was a light breeze and some cloud cover....lovely stuff! I was just thinking about the New Year...it's responsibilities, planning, debating...I feel like it's always a time to start something new, set yourself a challenge, try something different...Not really a New Year's resolution necessarily, just a new outlook on things...
I have been thinking that perhaps I should do a Project 365...perhaps a photo a day? Do you have any plans/ideas/challenges?

Enjoy the day folks!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day Wild Coast...

So...you may ask yourself....?Wild Coast....what is the Wild Coast? And what does that have to do with a sunny beach scene?
We are on holiday in an area on the East Coast of South Africa called the Wild Coast. This region is famous not only for it's breathtaking natural beauty, but for its unpredictable and treacherous ocean. There are several natural landmarks that you may have heard of (eg Hole-in-the-Wall), but one of the aspects to the Wild Coast that I found fascinating, are the number of shipwrecks off its coast, including some famous ones.

A few years ago, I read a book called "The Caliban Shore" by Stephen Taylor, which deeply affected me (truth be told, I was an emotional wreck for weeks afterwards). On the 4th of August 1782, a wooden hulled ship called the Grosvenor, struck rocks and sank off the Wild Coast in an area called Lwambazi. The initial toll was not as great as could be expected....only 14 of the 150 passengers drowned, with the rest reaching the shore. The book follows the subsequent events as told by two of the survivors (written accounts of course ;) ) and after truck load of historical research by the author. One of the survivors was an 8 month pregnant woman. It was her story that had me in tears over many days. If you are easily upset, perhaps this book is not for you...but, certainly it is a worthy read, full of historical data and gives a very real account of why this area is called the "Wild" coast. The characters are really brought to life and the social norms and human behaviour in the 1700's , make for thought provoking reading. I highly recommend it!
The mystery and legend surrounding the Grosvenor and her cargo , continued on for a long, long time, with rumours of gold and treasure sparking several treasure hunt expeditions! You can read about all of it in the same book, as well as find snippets here.
There are a couple of other famous shipwreck events, including that of the "disappeared-into-thin-air" SS Waratah...all fascinating reading.

So, in light of this, on Christmas morning, we woke to find the ocean covered with mist and a fine dizzle falling....two hours later we were on the beach in perfect weather with sun and sand bright with summer. In the first photos you can see the heavy bank of cloud on the horizon...when we see something like that we know...watch out, something is coming! By the afternoon, we had what you see in the bottom photo...black clouds, a heavy oppressive atmosphere and a heck of a thunderstorm....the lightning struck an area in the village, and our lights went out and we had no power! It took 6 hours to sort out whatever it was that was fried by the lightning, so we spent the evening at Pete's house (some of the houses in the area still had power, others not...go figure?). Earlier this year, a massive amount of damage was done to the East Coast when incredibly strong winds and rain, virtually washed away roads and flooded malls and homes....it really was dreadful.
In spite of these unpredictable events, it is the very uncontrollable nature of the area that I love...man still has to tread lightly and beware...nature is till the boss here!

I hope you all had a wonderful day today...thank you for visiting :)


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve...

Blessed Christmas Eve to all of you who visit here! May your Christmas be happy, peaceful and filled with love from myself , Gerry, Aliki and Emmanuelle!

We are spending tonight with dearest friends and precious family...this is such a special time for our family...we'll open presents and eat a wonderful meal together, but will always hold dear and remember the real meaning of Christmas...the birthday of Jesus...the greatest present of all :)

Thank you...

Love to all of you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Soup and more of the Undisturbed....

Today the sea is grey and misty and there is a light rain falling. Although not cold, this is not a beach day, so I decided to make a vegetable soup and veg :)
I love a random vegetable soup, made of any mix of vegetables you may have on hand. I used red onions, beans, sweetcorn, baby marrows, potatoes, celery, mushrooms, carrots, soya mince, red and yellow quinoa and some vegetable stock...easy peasy and took only 30minutes to cook up. I like to add the non GM soya (which you can get at health stores) and the quinoa, because as a vegetarian, it's an easy way to add some protein.

I made a huge pot and took some to Debbie, since we are sharing the same misty weather....hope you enjoy Debs :)

I did some laundry earlier today, and walked outside to hang up on the clothesline...(we have a sheltered area, so we can hang laundry even if it rains)...I narrowly avoided walking into a huge spider's web...hanging onto it I found this critter, which although very alien looking, I have discovered may be an Spiny Orb Weaver spider...supposedly not dangerous for humans! Actually there are two of these undisturbed residents, and as much as I admire how strange and pretty they are, if they do not move of their own accord by tomorrow, I am conscripting the DH to relocate them to the bush...sorry but I only play nice with bipeds and quadrupeds :l (ok...also some hexapeds...)

I am going to have an afternoon nap now, in the perfect weather for it...warm and cozy in my duvet!

I have to say that I am so taken by this Sherman heel! I will definitely do a tutorial on it in the future

Happy Friday to all :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas pretty...

Christmas is my favourite time of the year! I love, love, love this time! We don't always manage to spend it at our holiday home, but this year we are here! I love the whole spirit of Christmas, the family time, the friends we see, the wonder of celebrating Jesus' birth....it helps to place the year in perspective and gain strength for the year to come. I adore decorating the house and have collected a lot of very special decorations over the years.

I especially love Christmas decorations that have a homely feel, and if they light up, play music or move, so much the better! Every time we travel overseas, I try to bring back some Christmas decoration from wherever we have been...it serves to remind us of a special holiday each time we take it out and hang it on a tree, or place it on a table....

My all time favourite decoration is a resin figure of Santa kneeling at Baby Jesus' crib in adoration. I have one on my bedside table and one in the lounge....one day when my precious girls are decorating their homes for Christmas they will each have one of this special decoration :)

I have collected several Christmas themed crockery sets as well...however I am still looking for the "perfect" set, something with traditional gold, red and green trimmings, something Victorian and elaborate!

Our Christmas Tree is a large affair, and I have restrained myself from totally covering the tree with huge amounts of shiny things...I can't be sure that it will remain restrained...I may yet give in and overdo things next year! :)

I was pretty happy with my knitting today! I have knitted what I think is certainly the *perfect* short row sock heel...no wraps, no holes, easy peasy....it's called the Sherman Heel, and I may yet do a tutorial when I get back from holiday...have any readers used this heel for sock knitting? Are you as amazed at how perfect it is , as I was? :)

I spent a lovely afternoon with Debbie, chatting, sharing, discussing things ...she is a wonderful person and friend and I am very blessed to have her live so near...

My dear friend Dana and I were chatting yesterday about how much we enjoy learning new techniques in knitting. As knitters, we enjoy the actual knitting , but the intrigue and ongoing fascination with knitting , comes from exploring the seemingly endless variations of doing things with sticks and string! I sometimes knit just to be able to test a technique or try a pattern swatch...so Dana and I chatted about an interesting workshop Dana discovered on Ravelry.

It's called "Swing Knitting", and seems to be a technique using short rows to achieve wonderful wave like variations in your fabric. The workshop comprises 4 parts and the first few parts have both English and German translations. I reckon this will be my "new to learn" goal for the New Year!

Above you can see my bestest Christmas decoration...I am so attached to this figure :)

This holiday has also been a great time to listen to audiobooks! If you have yet to discover Audible, you have just found the perfect Christmas present for yourself! I love audiobooks because I can knit and listen anywhere! Yes, in the car, on the beach, in front of the computer, lying in bed at night, in the bath ...anywhere! And, there are tens of thousands of titles you can buy, including latest releases...check it out here. A subscription to Audible is also the easiest and most appreciated gift for someone that doesn't knit (*Ahhmmmm...*cough*...the DH)...

I made a divine Cape salmon bake for supper with some lovely buttered olive bread and salad. Trifle for desert and a crisp white wine...bliss! Holidays are so right!

Enjoy the evening folks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Summer Days on the Beach....

Today is a glorious summer's day ! It started out for me with a series of comedic events though... I slept like a log, dreaming wonderful dreams, happy and content, when, intruding rudely into my blissful state, were screeching sounds and slamming drawer noises, which didn't fit into the context of what was passing through my mind....suffice to say that my husband dearest had a moment of inspiration at the crack of dawn, and urgently seeking both paper and pen, started searching frantically all over the bedroom. Once he had found the aforesaid items, he incorrectly tried to open the shutters that we have , leading to the deck of our room, resulting in screeching sounds as the aluminium bits grated against each other... as you can imagine, the face he was presented with when I dragged myself from paradise, was not one of love and compassion. I did not make him coffee.
When Gerry and the girls went to the beach I cleaned up the house for a while. The area where we live is surrounded by a wonderful lush coastal vegetation , where deer walk freely and nature is undisturbed. One of the undisturbed flew into the house and tried to land on my hair. I was busy folding washing, when a loud buzzing , grating noise came straight at me and settled on my head. Well....all I can say is that the neighbours must have though I was being attacked by rabid aliens...I went completely a*e s**t, yanking at my hair and swatting wildly with my washing. I have very long hair and the thought of a huge insect getting stuck in it was just a bit too much to bear! I was so shaken, that by the time I managed to dislodge the offender (a massive clawed beetle of God only knows what genus) and violently turf it back into the bush, I seriously considered a 9am martini....No, don't lie...you would have too! The day surely had to get better....

So....with my psyche seriously unbalanced and without really planning, I found myself walking to the beach, having grabbed a beach chair and umbrella on the way out of the door. Arriving at the spot where the kids and friends were, I realized that the umbrella top and the bottom pole were from different sets, and that my umbrella was not going to be plantable unless I managed to Houdini myself into a flat pretzel. Spending so much time in the hospital away from natural sunshine, has made my pale skin as susceptible to burning as a vampire's, so this situation was not a good one....five minutes in the sun, and I get blisters! Gerry eventually rigged a workable solution using a towel and some ingenuity, and finally I had a moment to recover from my ordeals... The sun was shining, the sky was clear, the breeze gentle and cooling, and the ocean beautiful! It goes a long way to restoring the soul, I tell you!

My Nani and Gerry were playing with a funny ring-like frisbee and I managed to snap some pics of them. Of course, ever the joker, Nani acted as if she were an angel, placing the frisbee thing on her head like a halo each time she caught it :)

I have yet to venture into the ocean...I intensely dislike cold water and today the sea was especially cold...so who knows, maybe I'll swim later in the holidays :)....

I am still looking for pattern ideas for my Kauni Rainbow Yarn, but def don't want to make a shawl (I've seen loads of shawls made from it)...any ideas / suggestions?

Have a summery day folks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dolphins, Martin and Knit Companion

We had supper with friends (15 of us!) at our house last night. I haven't seen my dear friend Debbie (who lives down the road from us) for a few months, so I was looking forward to catching up. Gerry, the kids and myself went into town for some basic supplies, and arrived home around 4 o'clock, which was when my Woolies groceries order was supposed to be delivered. As it turned out, the delivery arrived at 7 o'clock, with me trying to juggle kids, cooking and a slew of phone calls from the hospital...it was like being in the Twilight Zone, I swear! Thankfully Debbie chatted to some of our other guests and by the time we all sat down for supper, things were more under control. As it was such a late night, we slept late, and woke to a warm but misty ocean, calm and glassy. This is generally the weather the dolphins like, and sure enough, huge schools swam lazily by...
The dolphins are a regular feature along our bay...you can ususally see them early morning and around 4 in the afternoon. They swim quite close to the breakers, and if you are brave enough, you can either swim amongst them or paddle on your paddleski between them.

Our bay has a lot of sea life. Whales are frequently spotted, albeit further out obviously, and occasionally Killer whales are spotted as they travel up the coast.
Within an hour the mists had disappeared, giving way to a glorious calm, sunny day. Gerry went out to swim early on, and I suspect that the girls will head down as soon as the little potatoes are awake from their late night!

I received a lovely email from Tania (who lives in Russia), sharing her beautiful African Flower Bear (who she has named Martin) with me. I asked if I could post her photos to show you all how adorable the little bear turned out. I really love the colours and the sweet expression! You are so talented Tania, thank you for sharing :)

If you have made Lollo bear and would like to show some photos of your creation, post the photos on the Projects page of the Ravelry pattern. This way everyone who accesses the pattern page on Ravelry can see them :) I would love to see all of the bears you have crocheted!

I have recently discovered Knit Companion for iPad. This is an App available through iTunes, that allows you to set up and organize any PDF based knitting pattern on your iPad. It is a fantastic tool, as you don't need a paper copy at all. You can add row counters, repeats, different sections at a time of your pattern, as well as pictures, charts , lifelines and stitch markers...all on the iPad! Awesome stuff folks! So you only need your needles and yarn and your iPad and you are set to go. They have a very useful video tutorial guide on how to set up everything, so it's easy and user friendly. I cannot recommend this App highly enough :)....and No, I am not paid by them to say these things ;)
The App costs $15.99, but before you balk at the price, let me asure you that I think it is worth every cent! You can download all your Ravelry Patterns and convert them into easy to follow Knit Companion patterns....it's the best knitting App I have ever bought....

The App comes with several awesome patterns form well known designers, so you can start playing (and knitting ;) ) straight away...

Have any of you bought Knit Companion? Let me know what you think!


Sunday, December 18, 2011


We arrived at lunchtime, to a warm but very windy summer's day. Although the sea conditions are rough with white horses all the way to the horizon, Gerry and the girls were on the beach within 10 minutes of us arriving. I opened up all the windows to air out the house a bit, set up shop and decided to blog :) My internet connection is appalling so far out from wherever it is that the things that makes the internet work are, but I managed to get two photos up...

I am thankful to say that since our last visit, no disasters have befallen the house and it is just wonderful to be here :)

Happy Sunday !