South Africa - Day 3 to Day 4

Get ready for some photos from South Africa!!!  Before I keep going I should give more background to what you are seeing.  After our very long flight from DC to Ghana, Ghana to Lagos/Nigeria, Nigeria to Johannesburg, we got our rental car and drove towards the Timabavati Nature Reserve of Kruger National Park.  Upon ICM's friend's recommendation, we had chosen Umlani Bushcamp (a private camp) and after suffering a flat tire within a few hours of landing, we made it to Umlani in time for our afternoon game drive!

Our schedule at Umlani was something like this - wake up knock at 5am, coffee or tea and light snack at around 5:30am, head out on our 3-hr morning drive by 5:45am, at some point later during our game drive we'd get out of the car and get more coffee/hot cocao and another breakfast snack, get back to camp and it's real breakfast time (eggs, grilled tomato slice, toasts, yogurt, fruit, rasher bacon - delish), break time until about 1ish (this was when ICM and I would go to the treehouse), then lunch at 1:30pm, 3-hr afternoon/sunset game drive at 3:00pm, before the game drive ended we'd get out of the car and have a beverage (diet coke for me, double gin and tonic for ICM), get back to camp 6ish 7 and have a cocktail around the bonfire, delicious dinner, and after dinner drink (my favorite was the Umlani coffee, Amarula!) around the bonfire...finally, bed around 9ish.  It was awesome!  We had originally booked for two nights but loved it so much that we extended one more night...worth every penny!

Our tracker, Elvis was super awesome (he's next to ICM in that photo above).  He could look at a bird pretty far away, tell us a page number to his bird guide, and he was right every single time.  One of my favorite things about him was that he loves Tupac, believes that Tupac isn't really dead, and quoted him extensively and correctly.

Decided that it'd be nice to post some bigger photos of wildlife.  Here are some from Day 3.

This is an impala, they were pretty much everywhere.  They look kind of delicate and you'd expect them to have softer voices, but they have this manly grunt, very strange.

Turtles on Mr.Hippo's back, took this when we were in the tree house :)

As you saw on Day 2, hundreds of buffalos came to Marco's Dam (which the tree house overlooks) when we went to the tree house.  The next day while we were there, there were a group of elephants that came to play in the dam and drink water from the spring (below).  

That's a leopard tortoise in the lion cub's mouth!

Day 4!  Woke up with this beautiful red glow from outside and into the mosquito net, went on our last game drive at Umlani and witnessed a pretty cool battle between wild dogs and hyenas with a jackal trying to get some food without getting killed, saw a cool dung beetle (with a passenger on the dung ball who does nothing!) push up hill and demonstrate perseverance, said our goodbyes to the wonderful bush camp and drove towards Letaba - our rest camp for the night within the Kruger National Park.  

Here are some photos of Umlani

 This tree frog is TINY! Our tracker, Elvis found this one while driving...I have no idea how.

 A warhog in Kruger!

Alright, I need to make dinner!!! Good night :)

Happy 2012!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Part of our celebration includes devouring these ice cream sandwiches above!!  yum yum yum.  (The recipe for these monster cookies is at the end of the post!)  As I am celebrating the New Year, I can still hardly believe that  2012 is here already but I am pretty excited.  2011 was super awesome and I know 2012 will be even better.  We had a pretty chill NYE - ate roasted sweet potatoes and a salad instead of the rack of lamb and vegetable curry we had gotten groceries for...all because we were too full from eating hot pot for lunch, HAHA!  We couldn't stay awake till count down time to the New Year and I woke up in the middle of the night super sore from yoga on Friday (pathetic)...BUT 2012 couldn't have started off better because I woke up to homemade waffles! Woot woot! Happy New Year to me! 

I know, I'm so lucky.  I don't take it for granted ;)

It was unusually warm in DC this morning and afternoon, almost 60s and beautifully sunny, so we hopped onto the metro and went to a nearby park with a lake.  I've really missed being outdoors and breathing fresh air ever since we came back from South Africa, so this was just what I wanted.  Vitamin D, wonderful.

Going to spend the rest of January 1 working on some SA photos, watching the House marathon on TV and cooking our lamb.  I hope you are having a good New Year's Day like I am.  Now..time for some resolutions.

My 2012 New Year's Resolution:
Last year I decided not to make any resolutions because I was tired of breaking them, however, with a break, my faith in myself has been restored and I think I will try again, though I will keep it short.

  • Exercise more (specific goal - do yoga regularly and work out 3x/week at least)
  • Bring my lunch more, thereby save money!
  • Swear less.  I have a little post-it note on my desk and I am certain it is working already.
  • Work harder to improve my photography and business!

Lastly, here's the recipe for those cookies!

Monster Cookies (Makes 3 dozen):
I've never had monster cookies until ICM told me that those were his favorites and his mom made them often when he was young.  I found some recipes online and made a batch but it wasn't until eating the version that his mom made that I really started loving them.  They are really good cookies - not too sweet, slightly chewy, and filling - really great for hiking - protein and everything.

This recipe is based on a few recipes that I found online, so I take no credit.  This recipe also has a little bit less sugar and less butter than the others, so for those who are sugar/butter-conscious, this should be pretty good.  I think we're going to try to figure out how to substitute more sugar out with agave nectar next time...will keep you posted on how that goes.


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup packed brown or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 oz peanut butter (I did 16 oz and it was good too)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 4 and 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • Preheat 350 degrees F
  • Mix eggs and sugars together.
  • Mix in salt, vanilla extract, peanut butter, butter, and baking soda.
  • Mix in the rest and stir it all together.
  • Take a tablespoon of batter, roll it a little and place it on your cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for ~10minutes and let cool!  I always eat one warm though...preferably with ice cream.  
  • Note:  I don't usually make all 36 cookies because we can't eat them all.  I'll make 12 and split the left over batter into two portions and put them in the freezer.  Other recipes say to eat them within a month or two. I've had it in for 3 and the cookies tasted fine still. 
  • Enjoy

Happy 2012.  I wish you all good health, lots of laughter, lots of good and healthy foods, and lots of adventures :)

South Africa photos later today!

mentally adjusting.


It's been exactly a week since I've returned from my trip to South Africa...and I miss it A LOT.  Mountains beyond mountains, safaris, beautiful coast line, nice people, great food, grilling all the time, cheap but awesome wines...what else can we ask for??  The danger in taking a three and a half week vacation is that it starts to feel like reality after a while, so it becomes an even bigger shocker when you find yourself sitting in your no-sunlight cubicle.  That was me on Monday...yuck.  Since then, school started, real life started back up..not to mention the fact that Christmas is just around the corner, ahhhhh.  I am not prepared for 2011 to end.  Maybe that's a sign of a great year?  :)  Excited for some down time to think about 2011 and sort out all the photos I want to post to show you!

Anyhow, a short post as I mentally adjust to being back and getting back into the routine.  This is a place called "Beach Camp" in Paternoster, SA that we stayed at.  This is taken inside our A frame hut right on the beach.  Very hippie commune like but boy is it a beautiful location.

Good night.

I am a hypochondriac?...and more.

Lately, I've been feeling somewhat like a hypochondriac.  Do you ever feel that way?  Let me tell you, having the internet, health forums, and websites like the WebMD, and the fact that my primary care doctor sucks (which makes me not want to go to the Doctor), has led me to make pretty ridiculous assumptions about my health...all based upon pretty generic search terms like swollen lymph nodes and a cough.  For a while I was convinced that I had lymphoma.  Luckily, I was and am comforted by the fact that the swollen lymph nodes were tender and had appeared suddenly.  If it was cancer, then it would have been more gradual and hard...that's what WebMD said!  So scratch cancer, what about lung issues, why won't my cough go away, etc!?? And it goes on. 

Even though I am almost certain it's not something terminal and that swollen lymph nodes are a sign that your body is fighting back, I will honestly admit that thoughts like "oh crap, am I going to die?" or "oh no, there are so many things I haven't done" have crossed my mind.  Ridiculous I know and I plan on getting it checked out by a professional.  But all in all, what I learned was that while I used to think that I wasn't afraid of dying,  I realized that I am.  Maybe when I am older I won't be...but right now, very much so.  While I've always had an appreciation and admiration of the strength of people who are/have been fighting their illnesses, through my self imposed experience, I gained an even greater appreciation. 

Anyways, just a bunch of random thoughts.

It's been cold here in DC and the metro definitely isn't helping.  Came across this and somehow it really appealed to me..

Oh yeah kiddies, T-Minus 5 days till we leave for South Africa!  So excited to explore and experience a beautiful country with one of the biggest reasons of why I wouldn't want to die any time soon! :)

My first WVU game!

I went to my first WVU game this past Saturday!  It was great spending time in the sun and playing with the 70-300 lens that ICM's mom is lending us for our big trip.  It was a beautiful day, everyone (except me) were decked out in full WVU gear and tailgating all day - they really have some very loyal fans.  I also got to see the Mountaineer (their mascot) receive a new musket from a generous alumni donation (see pictures below)!

Unfortunately, WVU lost to Louisville 35-38..Bummer.  Oh yeah, and the guy behind us was yelling/pretending he's the coach the whole game...Don't be that guy, ok?

Had a great weekend, hope you did too.

Here are some photos!

Oh yeah, I love Fall!

Bye Bye.

Thanksgiving in October!! That's right!

Yup! We had Thanksgiving in October last Saturday!!! And yes, we still have a lot of turkey left! Delicious :)  For reasons I cannot remember, I didn't have turkey for Thanksgiving last year.  So this year, when I realized that we would be in South Africa during Thanksgiving,  I decided that perhaps we could have Thanksgiving dinner early.  Thanks to good friends who love food and are open to strange suggestions, we pulled together an awesome Thanksgiving dinner:  brined turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted winter vegetables, green beans with shallots and garlic, spinach salad, home made rolls, AND pumpkin pie!

It was my first time ever cooking a turkey and after a lot of research, I decided to brine it with water, salt, and herbs, both fresh and dry.  I was really nervous about overcooking, undercooking, and/or screwing it up somehow.  BUT I think it turned out pretty well and I was happy about it.  I am now a true believer in brining!

We did have a small incident where we thought we were roasting breast side up (even though I really wanted breastside down).  But because ICM apparently can't tell which side the breasts were, somehow it worked out to breastside down...yeah, don't ask.  The reason for roasting breastside down is so the juices would flow towards the breast and keep it moistened (since no one wants to eat super dry white meat)!  Overall, our turkey was moist and yummy! 

My dinner that night..well, first round :)

Oh yeah, and this is what happens after Thanksgiving dinner...even in October :)

I had made my own pie crust and pumpkin pie filling from scratch about a week ago...the crust sort of failed, so even though I had said I'd make the pie, I decided that the pie master (miss A) should.  And I am just in awe of this perfect pie crust that she made... it puts me to shame!

So lastly, since I like to blame ICM for both things that he should be blamed for and maybe things that he shouldn't, I decided to give him a shout out.  Apparently it is important that they get positive feedback every once in a while.  Because I threw such a huge/child-like fit about not being able to go to the pumpkin patch twice, he got me a baby pumpkin one day! AWWWW. 

Ice cream and dominoes. Good night.

YAY for Pumpkin Patch!

I finally got to go to the pumpkin patch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were originally supposed to go yesterday but of course, it was raining and snowing the whole day!  It's not even November yet!  While DC and most Maryland areas didn't get any snow accumulation, on our drive to Homestead Farms, we saw some places that did...and even though it's kind of cold for October, I must admit that it was really pretty :)

Imagine my disappointment that we couldn't go two Saturdays in a row!  But luckily, it was a beautiful day today and after talking about it for weeks , we got our pumpkin!

The cow's name is Elmo.

The birds were too cute, so I cropped it for you to have a better look!

After very careful selection, we were down to two candidates!

And Mr. Pumpkin on the left won!

All right, so many things to update...

All these photos were taken with a 85mm 1.4D that I rented because I wanted to test the lens.  Loveeeeeeeee.

We are going to South Africa in 17 days!

We had a Thanksgiving dinner last night, pictures to come.  I cooked and brined my first turkey!

We are going to carve our pumpkin now.  Good night!!!