30 Minutes in the Life: September 2022

For this month’s 30 Minutes in the Life, I am going to continue to share our trip to Macedonia. This is more than 30 minutes but I am sure the bloggers will understand. Once again these photo’s are a mix of camera pics and cellphone pics. Often it was hard to maneuver a camera in such tight spots. Added to that was the red and green reflection of the awnings.

In fact, today’s share is the whole reason we went to Macedonia. As I mentioned before Amy and Daniel were married in 2018 in a very small wedding in our back garden. Daniels family was unable to attend. So it has always been Daniel’s desire to go back home and have a reception for his family and friends. Today is Saturday in our time away and it is the day that the party will happen.

The way I understood the traditions, Daniel said that in normal situations, the groom would go to the brides house early in the morning and steal her away to his home, where there would be celebrations before the actual wedding. Of course, Amy’s home is a long way away from Macedonia so there was not stealing the bride.

The wedding party was split into two events. The first would take place at Daniel’s mothers home. When we arrived in the morning they were busy setting up the awnings and tables and chairs. There were two huge shop fridges outside filled with soda, water, beers, various forms of alcohol and their national drink, rakija.

In addition they had hired traditional Macedonian musicians to come and play music. One of the instruments looked vaguely like bagpipes

Poor Lukie was not quite sure what was going on. He had never heard such a loud noise before. But before long that little boy was the life and soul of the party and was past from one person to another. Here Daniel tried his best to block at least one of his ears.

It was good for Daniel to be back with his family and friends. He thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the celebrations. His two best men were awesome and really helped Richard and I to fit in. Both of them spoke English well and so we were able to communicate a learn a little more about Daniel.

As guests arrived, Luka got to meet and greet everyone of them. This event was relatively small, about 50 people who were either family or very close friends.

Bride and Groom are expected to dress up, but with temps of 105F, I suggested to Amy that she wear the dress that she was originally married in, and change into her new dress at the venue for the actual wedding reception.

Luka got to meet Daniel’s uncle, who seemed to fall in love with him.

Daniel’s mom went to so much effort to make not only this party, but also the wedding reception as special time for Amy and Daniel. She was so grateful to have them there to celebrate with.

Luka seemed to enjoy getting a little closer to the musicians.

Once or twice I ventured inside with him just to cool him down in front of the fan or to let him rest from being passed around. But before long he was back outside again.

This picture melts my heart. In the beginning of 2020, I was not even sure that Richard would be alive to see this little man, let alone get to enjoy every moment he can with him. I am so grateful to my God that he is. I am grateful that he was willing to travel that far to be a part of this event.

For these two special people, this three hour event was just the beginning of what would be an amazing day. It would also be a very long day. Look out for the evening part of the celebration in the next blog.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what  Kristina of Hello Olivia Photography has for you this month, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

30 Minutes in the Life: August 2022: Macedonia Day 1

In the last blog I gave a short synopsis of our trip to Macedonia. Check it out if you have not read it. I arrived home tired, and found that the jet lag was just crazy. We struggled for at least 10 days to get our bodies back in sync. Sometimes I think poor Luka is still struggling. For these blogs, the images are going to be a mix of not so great quality cellphone pics, as well as camera pics. It was just easier sometimes to grab my cell and take the pics.

Macedonia has been on the cards for a while, but Covid stopped it in 2020, and Richards health and Amy’s pregnancy stopped it in 2021. 2022 Amy and Daniel decided that they had waited long enough and they were going. Daniel really wanted us to go with so that we could meet his family. I plotted and planned, researched, and jotted down notes. Pulled up maps and made key references to places of interest. I am a planner. I probably over plan, however, I am also the kind of person that does not have to get to everything. I just want to know if I am missing out on anything.

11 days before we were due to leave, Snow and Rory, (Amy’s two cats) moved to our house. 10 days before we were due to leave we drove Amy, Daniel & Luka to Miami airport. Oh man, my heart was going on an airplane and I was not going with. I was going to miss that little man.

Finally D-day arrived and we were set to head out. I left Simba in charge of Moo, Snow and Rory. My good friend from down the road was willing to come in twice a day and take care of all 4 of them. Bags were packed and we were ready. We agreed to leave early. You never know what the traffic is going to be like driving to Miami and we had a good hour and a half to drive. Going through customs was quick and easy and then it was the coffee and breakfast while we waited. Our flight was through Turkish airlines and we were on board and ready to go fairly quickly. Amy warned me that they feed you pretty quickly once you are up in the air, but then don’t feed you until about 4 am Turkish time which is 10 pm our time. So a meal at noon and then nothing until 10pm is a long time. What I did find out flying back is there is food at the back that you can snack on but being up front I had no reason to go to the back. Talking food, I was pretty impressed with the food we were given on the flights.

The best part of our flight was that I had booked isle seats. I had two people sitting next to me and Richard had 3 seats to himself, so I shifted across to the free seat and my seat companions were forever thankful that they then had a seat between them.

After what felt like was forever on the flight, which in theory was 1am our time, we landed in Istanbul. Little did we know how big the airport was.

I feel like we landed on one end of the airport and had to work our way through to the furthest point of the airport to catch our connecting flight. The challenge that came was the flight was not showing on the board, and by the time we actually found out what gate we were leaving from we had 20 minutes to navigate this huge airport. Little did we know that there were walking escalators on the upper level. We really did not have time to take in the beauty of the airport, because we were rushing to catch our flight.

I needed a bathroom pitstop and so we found some signs that indicated there was a bathroom entry. I told Richard to stay exactly where he was and not to move. I then found myself entering the bowels (sic) of the airport. I felt like I walked forever before I found the ladies rest room. Navigating my way out, I come out at the entrance only to find that Richard is not there. I was so annoyed. I started walking knowing that I had to go down the walkway. As I started recognizing landmarks and I quickly discovered that the entrance I went in and the exit I came out of were not the same. Thankfully I found Richard standing exactly where he was supposed to be. Frustrated, I might add, because I had taken so long. Of course he is now on a mission to get to where we have to depart and we are virtually running to get there.

Flying from Istanbul to Skopje in Macedonia was on a much smaller plane. Initially I thought that we were going to be on a very roomy flight but that idea was quickly squished when a connecting flight boarded. I had two traveling companions next to me, a guy around my age, traveling with his mother. Richard had a mother and child, and the grandmother. The flight was uneventful until just before we were going to land. The wheels of the plane kicked out and then man next to me nearly jumped out his seat. He did the sign of the cross 3 times and then grabbed his mothers hand. He sat in this rigid position until we hit the tarmac with a bump, after which he gave thanks for the safe landing. Exiting the customs area was quick and hassle free.

And there he was, my heart, back in my arms again. I had missed this little face so much. I missed the cuddles on my Friday. I missed his smiles and his laughter. What a sweet moment it was to be able to just hug this little body again. Daniel, Amy and Luka came through to fetch us at the airport. My first impressions driving through from the airport to Daniel’s home town, was that it was similar to the Natal midlands in South Africa. A place we visited a lot growing up.

Macedonia covers an area of 25,713 km². It is not huge. Towns are scattered across the countryside, with Skopje being the capital. We were traveling an hour to a town called Vinica, where Daniel grew up. Most of his family live there. I will share more about the town in another blog.

We arrived at the hotel, had time to unpack, have a shower and then head up to Daniel’s moms home. What a sweet welcome with had, with hugs and tears. Our biggest challenge was language, with us not speaking Macedonian and Daniel’s mom not speaking English but the hugs made up for the difference. What a sweet, sweet time.

Aside from the greeting I was there with a purpose. Daniel was taking Richard for a beer, while Amy, Luka and I were joining the traditional bread making ceremony. Traditionally the family of the unmarried bride host a bread making ceremony. However, in this case, Daniel’s mom hosted the ceremony. The bread is shape in a round circle to symbolize something that has no beginning or end. Daniel’s young cousin, was the lady who made the bread. First the dough is made and kneaded, then it is patted in to the round dish, then Luka (who it appears is the star of the show) had to give his foot stamp of approval. While we were not looking a coin was placed in the bread mix, then Daniel’s cousin and his aunt created a beautiful design on the bread. and finally Daniel’s mom placed butter and oil onto the top of the bread.

The bread making ceremony was not just about making bread, it was the gathering of the women, the dancing of the traditional dance the Horo, and the drinking of rakija which is the traditional Macedonian drink. I have to confess it was a little strong for me, and I stuck to the giant beers 🙂 A little bit more information on the Horo. This is a traditional dance where the guests link hands and do this intricate little step (which I mastered at slow speed, and caved as it sped up) and they go around in a circle celebrating the event. This was a beautiful time of learning their traditions and hugging and smiling at everyone. The only word I knew was “Stravo” which means “hello” and I said that quite a bit.

Of course, the whole happening was about Amy and Daniel’s second wedding reception and Daniels family wanted to do this as a traditional wedding. Amy and Daniel got married in 2018 in the USA with just our immediate family and a few friends. Daniel’s family was not able to attend and it has always been their intention to have a ceremony in Macedonia for his family. So this was Amy’s bread making ceremony.

After the bread making ceremony Amy, Luka and I headed down to the Park where we joined Daniel and Richard for what must have been the largest beer I have ever drunk, and would continue to drink over the coming day.

We ended our evening off with the family gathering for dinner along with the two groomsmen. There was an enormous amount of food, lots of translations, and plenty of the bread that was baked earlier in the day. I did not tell you that the person who gets the piece of bread with the coin in it, is said to have luck for the coming year. That turned out to be Daniel’s mom. Hopefully she will be lucky and the embassy will grant her a visa to visit the USA in December.

Tired and weary we did our five minute walk back to our hotel. It had been a good day. My next blog I will share a bit about Vinica and the town itself.

Thank you for joining us, 30 Minutes in the Life is a circle blog and we have some very talented photographers in the group. I always love looking at the sneak peaks and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what Kristina of Hello Olivia Photography has for you this month, and I look forward to seeing what she has to share.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Share Six: May 2022: Flat Lay

I was so impressed by out featured artist @everythingamylsmith‘s {Flat Lay} last month, that I wanted to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and to do something a little different. So I asked the blog team to try the art of {Flat Lay}. I have never done a {Flat Lay}, but this was a lot of fun. Thinking up the different themes and how they relate to me. It was definitely an endeavor to draw on who I am. Of course, me on top of a tall stepladder is never a good thing, but I survived the experience with a few pictures to show.

I hope you enjoy this theme this month.

Writing is a lost art. I remember growing up we did not have internet. In fact, we did not have computers. And yes, I know that I am dating myself, but it is what it is. What we had was the run of the mill snail mail. And I had pen friends. So many of them, that if I had really put my mind to saving my money, I could have traveled to every country in Europe, to Scandinavia, and throughout the UK and I would have had a friend in at least 1, maybe 2 cities in each country, along with a whole lot of family in the UK. I remember waiting, impatiently, for the mail to arrive. There would be a one page letter. When I think about it now, it is almost anti climatic, but in those days it was awesome. What happened to all those pen friends, I have no idea, but today I am still friends with my very first pen friend, Andrew who lived in England, and my Danish pen friend, Lone. Both came over to South Africa to stay with us. Lone when I was in my early 20’s and Andrew when I was married. If you haven’t written a letter for a while, grab a card, and bless someone with some kind words. It will make their day.

Coffee is something I love, but my body hates. I loved the idea of the coffee beans spilling out of the packet and into the cup. So I went to the local Fresh Market and found some Jamaican Blue coffee beans (the kind Richard likes). I have to be honest, the smell is divine and I would love to just pour myself a cup of coffee. Probably I could sit and sniff it for a while and get my fix, but to drink it is like poison for my system.

Many years ago, around 2012, Richard had a group of Portuguese guys come over on business, and he decided to host them one evening for dinner and just give them time out of the hotel room. They were great fun, but the memory of my kitchen floor is something that keeps coming back to me. As the evening progressed, the stickier my floor became. So what were they making – caipirinha. What do you need – limes, sugar, Cachaça, and ice. There was a lot of work that went into the making of this drink, and I think the more that were made, the more that was spilled on my floor. We all had a great evening, and that made it worth the cleaning of the sticky floor before I went to bed.

A couple of weeks ago we went on a staff retreat. This is the second year we have been to this location, and I have to confess I love it. It is art with wood. You pick a project and when you arrive you are shown your project and you have to make sure that the wording on your stencil is correct. Then you begin by sanding your project, then staining your project, then doing a wash of some sort, then adding your stencil (which is an art in itself), and then painting the stencil, waxing your project, and finally adding the hardware. We got to do that all in 2 hours. This flat lay was taken in the staining process. I loved the end results and was able to gift it to my daughter and her husband. I have decided I would like to go back there again and do a 3 hour project. That way I will get myself a nice charcuterie board.

So, tea time is my thing. I can drink tea till the cows come home, as my mother would say. For the most part I love Red tea or as South Africans call it, Rooibos tea. I have been drinking it for years. Every so often, I will pull out vanilla tea, and a lot of memories of my dear friend Gavin, and on occasion Earl Gray Tea. For this flat lay I tried to color coordinate the theme. I had a small tray handy. I raided my cupboard for a sweater and a scarf. I pulled out two of my mothers pass me on’s – the cake plate, and the tea cup. Found the scrabble tiles. Dug out the candles. Borrowed the pine cones from the arrangement in the kitchen. I had bought some tulips to use, but by the time I got to shooting this project the tulips were dying and I had to go and buy some more, but I loved using the dead leaves as well. A nightly habit for me is tea and my book. It is a way for me to destress and let go of the day. Sometimes I destress too late into the night, and then the lack of sleep becomes my stress point, but Friday is just around the corner. The whole project was placed on the carpet in my office, which blended with the colors in the theme.

Last but not least is my wishful thinking. In 2018, Amy and Daniel got married in our back garden in a small and intimate wedding ceremony. Amy had lost contact with her friends as a result of being overseas for almost 3 years, and Daniel’s family could not travel out for the wedding. Their plan was to go to his family the following year. However, that was postponed due to his legal US paperwork. In 2020, covid happened and we could not go. In 2021, Richard was diagnosed with melanoma, and covid was spiking in Europe again. In addition Amy was pregnant and was too far along for traveling. Luka was born in December. So we are now 4 years later, and have still not got back to Macedonia.

However, It’s official, Amy and Daniel have booked their tickets, and the date for their family and friends reception is set for mid July. They want us to go with, and I very much want to go. Richard wants to wait for the results of his Pet Scan, which is at the end of May, before we book our tickets. So I am praying that he has nothing to worry about and that we get to do some traveling in July. This flat lay is me prepared to travel. Of course there is so many things to do, but I am working on them in anticipation of us traveling. Aside from the reception, and spending time in Daniel’s home town and meeting the family, Luka being baptized, there are plans to go to Ohrid, which is on the lake, and to the capital Skopje. I am excited about the thought of traveling, and seeing new places. I tried learning the language when we first talked about going and then it kind of fell by the wayside. I have all of 2 words right now – hello – Zdravo, and goodbye – chow (although that is not what google tells me).

This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Kathrine of Cobert Photography up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook and  Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_flatlay

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.