Last week, to belatedly celebrate Anne’s birthday on 1 January, we had lunch at the Gardener’s Cottage, on the same grounds as the Montebello Design Centre in Newlands.

montebello 1

I specially went early because it’s been so long since I was last there, and I was not disappointed. The grounds, the studios, the workshops, the nursery, the restaurant – everything was beautifully maintained, the staff were professional, the atmosphere was calming and also blissfully cool thanks to all the tree cover. The place is no hidden Cape Town secret, but there’s something about it when you’re there that makes it feel like you stumbled into another world.

montebello 4

montebello 3

The shops and studios are run by the people who are involved in making the products, and the range and quality was superb. It was like the best of Cape Town rolled into one.

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montebello 6

The hand-embroidered and beaded cushions took my breath away. I would have bought them all if I could have afforded to because it would have been impossible to choose.

By the time I got to the eating side of things, I was too excited to take pics of the food plus I wanted to concentrate on talking to Anne. I’m trying to get myself in the habit of switching my phone off when I’m with someone, constant beeps and flashing icons are too distracting. I figure there’s nothing that can’t wait til later (barring an emergency, in which case I would presumably receive a phone call) – but it’s a hard habit to break. I’m getting there, slowly. I’m grateful for the upsides, but for someone as easily diverted as I am, this is one of the downsides of the world of instant communication in which we live…

Food. Right. I had the “hand-crafted” bagel with salmon and cream cheese – I was a bit concerned about its size when it arrived, because I have a healthy appetite and this chap looked to be on the small side, but I’d forgotten how filling and substantial a truly good bagel can be – and one of the best cappuccinos ever. I can’t remember what Anne had but whatever it was, she said it was very good :)

Since Montebello is about eight minutes from my home and I drive past it at least three times a week on my way somewhere else, it is ridiculous not to stop by more often. You guys come visit Cape Town, I’ll take you there for lunch!


have a heart

Experiment in patchwork heart-shaped cushion: relatively quick to make, enjoyable to stuff and hand-stitch edges with perle cotton while watching a Season 2 episode of Top of the Lake, make sure the bottom lines up properly next time. I plan to make a batch for the next Made in the Cape market, just in time for Valentine’s Day.


The bathroom took longer to sort out than I’d anticipated so no worthwhile pic to show you yet. I’ll be moving on to the sewing room next, but the week has been interrupted – very happily – with more overseas orders for pillow cases and the discovery of a fabulous new Italian restaurant in Observatory. Forneria Italia doesn’t have an alcohol license yet, so take your own wine. Thanks to Gwenni for the recommendation.

And the last thing for today, particularly for Cape Town readers: Level 6b water restrictions will be coming into effect from 1 February, as you probably already know (and we’re all trying not to panic too much) but how useful is this from EyeWitness News:

50 litres


and yet more changes #4

The second-last room that needs tackling is Bathroom #3. It has one of those awful jacuzzi-type baths and a few shelves, so those always got used just for storage. Not only did the spurty bits in the bath that are for “massage” never work anyway (previous owner had informed us of this), but no-one baths in the Western Cape any longer. Baths are for drought-free areas. I limit my shower time to 60 seconds these days, and even then I feel guilty about using the water.

next challenge

I think I can safely say this will be a relatively straightforward job. It will be undertaken this morning, after I’ve nipped out for groceries and before I meet a friend for lunch to wish her a belated happy birthday. Have energy = get lots done! Long may it last!

Oh, also – in my recent unearthings, I found this:

cross stitch…a cross-stitch kit that my ex-mother-in-law bought for me on a visit to Australia over twenty years ago. Looks like I even managed two-thirds of it. I think it’s rather pretty, and perhaps it won’t take long to complete. Famous last words….

WIP: scraphappy doorstop

I’ve been making a couple of round patchwork cushions lately, and I had one circle lying around that didn’t get cushioned up before Xmas. What else could I do with this?

doorstop 4

As it happens, I need a proper doorstop for my bedroom – most of the year it’s impossible to live without the windows being open, but when a breeze comes up, the door slams. And not only do you get a groot skrik but, with three cats wandering lazily around, the last thing I want is an accident. I’ve been using a belt buckled round the doorknob and the nearest handle on the wardrobe – it does the job but I thought a more permanent workaround would be better. Especially if I can link the solution with Kate’s Scraphappy-ness :)

I gathered it up round the edge and filled it with a plastic bag full of beach sand. I glued in a strip of plastic belt for the handle, then handstitched the open bit together. I’m not quite sure what to do about the raw edge yet, I might end up sticking on some crochet flowers. I also stuck on a circle of fake leather underneath, to protect it from picking up dirt from the floor.

Things to consider in future:
My circle is only 44cm in diameter, which has resulted in a very small doorstop. Mine is quite hobbit-sized, and may end up being used as a paperweight. Or given to the nearest hobbit.
The circle can be made up of fabric pieces in different ways (doesn’t have to be cake-slices) or from a single piece of fabric if you don’t like the patchwork look.

I’m sure there are doorstops like this all over pinterest, but after an hour of only finding rectangular ones I cut my losses and did my own thing.

What am I looking forward to today? A drive out to beautiful Tulbagh (in what is known as the Valley of Abundance) to catch up with my dear friend Tina, whom I have known for nearly 40 years, over dinner at the Tulbagh Hotel and a sleepover in her wonderful farm cottage.

Back soon :)

and yet more changes #3

Friday. Official Office Sort-Out Day. The ‘before’ state of things:



Yes, it really was that bad. What I have achieved after two days is not 100% yet but it’s a damn good start – considering that I also fitted in a long coffee-break with a friend, a dinner and theatre date last night, packing the car for tomorrow’s market, and getting a large order ready for a new supplier yesterday on about one hour’s notice. And the temperature was in the mid-30s — nearly %#@* killed me…but boy oh boy, did I sleep like a baby!

after 2

I am giving myself a big pat on the back right now. Sorting and tidying will recommence on Sunday, all being well.

Happy weekend, everyone :)

time to eat

Taking a break from dealing with my supernatural ability to create *&%$#@ havoc wherever I live, I made a light supper last night for a friend. It was so easy and so delicious I’m going to put it out there. Try it yourself and tell me what you think.

salad thing

Chop up some butternut and sweet potato into smallish chunks, roll them around in a bit of olive oil, plonk them onto a baking tray with some freshly chopped garlic and roast at about 150 for an hour (maybe a bit longer, need to be just cooked but not soggy). Let them cool.


Boil some brown and black lentils in salted water for about 30 mins. Medium heat. Keep checking because length of time depends on how many you chucked into the saucepan (I forgot about mine until the smell of burning wafted through from the kitchen, so there was no need to drain the water off because there wasn’t any left. Crispy lentils, anyone?)


Wash and tear up some butter lettuce – this is the first layer in your dish. Slice a Spanish onion and layer over the lettuce, then the roasty veg and burnt lentils. A little bit of salt and pepper, another splurge of olive oil and a nice lug of balsamic vinegar and you’re done.

My friend also got some cold roast chicken with the butternut surprise. I like roast chicken but only certain parts, and yesterday Pick ‘n Pay only had thighs and legs so, not for me.  A bottle of white wine was all else that was needed. Okay, two bottles. A simple meal to suit all tastes (barring the chicken). And there are leftovers for lunch today!

and yet more changes #2

Remember that pigsty pandemonium I showed you last time? My tv lounge? Here it is now with a fresh coat of paint on the floor, all the useful stuff sent to the charity shop and the useless crap sent to the bin. The floor is still wet so I couldn’t get any further in than the doorway to take this pic. Progress, my friends, progress!


And then, taking a step backwards…because that is what I do so well…here is my new art deco oak server, collected a couple of hours ago from friends in Woodstock who are trying to streamline their interior decor. I know it seems like beyond stupid to acquire a new piece of furniture when I’m going to move in the next few weeks, (a) they were desperate to get rid of it, and I like to help my pals; (b) they refused to let me pay, and (c) I really love it. What’s not to like?


It will stay in the dining room for the meantime, and get moved to the tv lounge when the floor is dry.

Today is Office Sort-Out day. Before and after pics tomorrow. A luta continua