Readying a Home for Hospitality


Readying a Home for Hospitality

When we made the decision to move last spring our biggest motivating factor for doing so was so that we would have more space in the living area where we could entertain more people. The home we were living in last year was great, we really loved it, the bedrooms and bathrooms were huge, so many parts of it were quite high end . . . but the living room/dining room area was very small. The house we had built is much more basic, the bedrooms and bathrooms are much smaller but the kitchen/dining room/living room area is much bigger.

We moved in the last day of September and throughout the month of October we had about 50 people over -not all at one time :) Then we were in South Africa for most of November and December and we knew we wouldn’t have too many people over in January so we’ve kind of declared it DIY the Living Space Month aka readying the home for hospitality.

Let me be the first to say: I don’t think a home needs to be perfect to invite people over. That being said, there are a few things we wanted to do to make it a more comfortable space to invite guests to. It’s definitely still a work in progress but I thought I’d show you where we are at now.

On the weekend we (okay, mostly Jared) installed this pipe shelf that I love, love, love. It obviously still needs some stuff added to it, but I’ll get to that yet. One of the things we are doing is including a little coffee bar area. I scored a $170 Tassimo on Boxing Day for just $65 (thank you Amazon!), which was something we’ve been meaning to purchase for awhile since we are not coffee drinkers and didn’t own a coffee maker (and had we owned one it would have been no use, we also don’t know how to make coffee). We’ve got a few ideas for the coffee bar area, I want to hang a few cups from the shelf above and potentially add the word “drink” (like the “hello” we made a few years ago), I’m also searching thrift stores for a cute sugar bowl and a few other things. Oh, and I want to buy a globe to go on the top shelf. :)

Readying a Home for Hospitality

We’ve done a little re-arranging in the living room to make it cozier and are on the look out for a comfy chair to add to that space. I’m also working on a rope rug for the living room, you may have seen on Instagram, it’s taking me awhile but I think it will look cool once it is done.

Readying a Home for Hospitality

There are a few other things on my list that I want to make yet, like coasters, curtains and some new pillows for the living room. And the DIY Ultimate Bundle has me thinking of attempting this awesome light letter for the open space among the pipe shelf.

{Speaking of the DIY Ultimate Bundle, today is the last day it’s for sale so if you were at all interested I’d recommend you go buy it right now! It includes 76 ebooks, a few ecourses and some bonus offers for just $34.95. I’ve already got a list of natural beauty products, green cleaning products, sewing projects and tons more that I want to DIY, all from the bundle.}

Hopefully I’ll be able to share our updated and potentially completed living space in about a month!

Linking up with Oak+Oats today.


A Guide to Durban, South Africa


Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Parents

Since we’ve been to South Africa I’ve had a lot of parents contacting me asking lots of questions about lodging, things to do, and just wanting general information about South Africa, which is awesome! I’ve wanted to share information with our adoption right from the get-go. I keep telling everyone that asks that I’ll make a guide to Durban for adoptive families so here it finally is!

Just a few disclaimers: I’m going to share a few of our favorite things and places, but to be honest, we didn’t do as much as some other families. I know some families do every touristy thing while they are out there (many of them twice over) but we knew that wouldn’t be for us. Our first priority was making sure we spent time alone as a family, bonding with Ephraim and figuring out life as a family of four.

I know a lot of people who have been out to Durban to adopt a child (or two!) over the last few years and if you are one of them and have some more/different information to add please do so in the comments, I’d love that to be a great resource for families as well.

Also, if you wish to see all the posts I’ve shared about South Africa you can see them here and all the adoption related posts here.

Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Families

STAY at Palmiet

Oh man, I could go on and on about how much we loved Palmiet River Lodge . . . first of all: MONKEYS! You convinced yet?? Haha :)

A few things we loved about Palmiet:
a) it’s beautiful
b) we had access to a full kitchen so we were able to make many of our meals
c) it was quite quiet and we were left alone to do our own thing (as introverts we really appreciated this, plus it was better for bonding with Ephraim)
d) it was only a 20 minute walk to the store to get groceries
e) monkeys! it was pretty cool to see them nearly every day
f) an outdoor shower
g) we didn’t have to do our laundry or dishes

Okay, so there are just a few things we loved :) There really was so many, I may end up doing a full post on Palmiet yet, if I do I’ll add the link in here.

Our adoption agency has two places it recommends for lodging, we were able to stay at Palmiet for most of the time and we were able to stay at another one, Heaton, for a few days and while I don’t want to get into all the details here, we strongly preferred Palmiet (it was our personal preference and if you have questions about either place feel free to email me).

Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Families

EAT at Chez Nous, Panarotti’s & Nando’s

We didn’t eat out a whole lot but we love the three restaurants mentioned above, and they all had a gluten free option for Jared – win!

Chez Nous is located at the Westville Junction, just a 20 minute walk from Palmiet. It’s a pretty fancy place with amazing food. Jared loved all of their steak (an amazing steak for only $12), I stuck to the margherita pizza, which was huge and only $5.50 and the kids loved pretty much every one of their kids meals. And the best part about Chez Nous: there is a kids playroom where they have a staff member watching the children, Raeca loved it.

Panarotti’s is a great Italian style restaurant with a GF pizza option.

At Nando’s we always had their chicken, slowly trying to work our way up on the heat scale (we didn’t make it very far).

Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Families

DRIVE with Tezz at Bonana Tours & Transfers

The first few days we were in South Africa we rented a car (to travel to Newcastle) but the rest of the time we hired Tezz to drive us around and give us a few tours. Tezz is amazing, the things she pointed out while we were driving that we otherwise would have missed was something we weren’t expecting but really appreciated it. She was great at suggesting things we should do and see (or things we should just pass on) and when Jared’s eye got infected I asked her where he should go and she gave the number for her doctor, she really enriched our experience in South Africa. Oh and bonus: she lives right beside Palmiet :)

Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Families

VISIT Tala Game Reserve

Hands down Tala was our favorite thing touristy thing we did. Tezz gave us a tour for the day and she knew exactly where to drive to find certain animals, we had such a great time, I blogged the visit here.

Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Families

VISIT uShaka Marine World

uShaka was a great place to visit for the day, Raeca was mesmerized by the dolphin show. We went with the other Canadian families that were out and it was an excellent place to meet up.

Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Families

VISIT South Beach

I actually don’t know if South Beach is actually it’s name, but there is North Beach so South Beach just makes sense. :) Tezz explained to us that each of the beaches in Durban serve different purposes, North Beach has a lot more waves so it’s the main surfing beach and South Beach (which is right by uShaka) is much calmer and is the popular swimming beach. Everyday the lifeguards set up flags where the smallest waves are (moving them throughout the day as the waves change) and that’s the safe place to swim in.

Guide to Durban, South Africa for Adoptive Families


It seems like shopping was one of our major past times while in South Africa. Here are a few places we’d recommend:

I Heart Market – usually occurring on the first Saturday of the month we loved the I Heart Market (which is held outside the Moses Mabhida Stadium). In December it was actually every Saturday so we got to go a few times :) There were so many good vendors and we bought a few great things (unfortunately half of it was in the suitcase the airline lost).

The Pavillion – our favorite mall that we went to. The Pav has a store for everyone.

Westville Mall & Westville Junction – we loved that they were just a 20 minute walk from Palmiet to both Westville Mall and Westville Junction, we’d walk there a few times a week for groceries (actually, it was more like a hike there and a downhill roll back).

Pep, Jam, Jet & Mr. Price – cheap clothing stores and a great place to pick up clothes for the little one you are adopting since you really never know what size they are until you see them.

Okay! I think those were all our favorites while we were there! It’s hard to believe we’ve already been home for a month. If I end up thinking of something to add I’ll edit this post and add it in. If you’ve been to Durban to adopt I’d love to hear some of your favorites in the comments!


Swamp Water


swamp water

I remember being younger and going through the drive-thru at a popular fast food chain with my parents and many times my mom would order swamp water. It was a mixture of the various different carbonated beverages available. I remember trying it as a kid, it was . . . interesting and just left me with the feeling of “that ain’t right”. This post is kind of like that, a bunch of different thoughts that really don’t go together but here I am, mixing them all together, just like swamp water (which, for the record, I have no desire to try again).

sleep terrors – I had never heard of them until a few days ago and now I feel like I’ve researched them so much I should get a degree in the subject. Rae has been suffering from them this past week, actually what she’s had are called confusional arousals, but either way, watching your child thrash around in bed and saying things like “help me” and “make it stop”, is very hard. Thankfully she doesn’t remember a thing when she wakes up and thinks she’s been sleeping great (well, at least that makes ones of us!).

luggage – so, the airline lost one of our bags on our way home from South Africa last month and it has yet to be found. It’s been quite annoying because while there wasn’t a whole lot of monetary value in there there were a lot of things in there of value to us. Like Christmas gifts for our family, mine and Jared’s birth certificates, our marriage license . . . and the most annoying thing to me: my mouth retainers. Thanks to the missing luggage and the 2.5 weeks I went without them (I went to my ortho to get new ones a few weeks ago), my teeth began to move back and are now permanently crooked, unless that luggage gets found. Also in the luggage was a few months of medication for Ephraim which ended up getting sorted out but has left us with hours and hours worth of doctors appointments as they try to figure out medication equivalents here in Canada . . . but on to happier things . . .

diy – like I said last week, we’ve been diy-ing it up around here, we’ve completed a few things and have a list more of others that we want to. I’m hoping to share some photos of more of the completed projects soon (like the coffee table Jared completed and the rug that I’m working on!), for now, here is a little kimono I made for Raeca, I didn’t have a pattern so the first one turned out quite small (like for a one year old), but the second time around I think it turned out pretty great! I want to make one for myself and to be honest, if I can figure out a good pattern I’d love to sell a few in the future. I’m realizing how much I enjoy creating and would love to make a bit of a living by making things.


ultimate bundles - speaking of diy, the diy ultimate bundle launches today! It’s 76 ebooks and a few ecourses for just $34.95. They’ve got books and courses on everything from scrapbooking to sewing, to home decor, canning, green cleaning recipes, beauty recipes, photography, writing and more! If you are into diy at all you’ll want to check it out. I’ve got my copy already and I’ve got a list of diy’s I want to complete already :) You know, after I finish the rug I am working on and a few other projects on my list. :)

enthusiasm – there is a new church plant in our town that started at the beginning of the month, one that we are excited to be a part of. Every Sunday evening Jared and I come home feeling excited and uplifted, from both the messages we’ve been hearing and the people we’ve been meeting. It’s something we’ve prayed about for a long time.

teething – Ephraim is getting his first molar! It seems like a long time coming since he is 20.5 months and only has his front eight teeth. Also, I’m excited, this is the first tooth he’s pushed through with us, it feels like a pretty big milestone.

the kleenex conspiracy – so, I’ve had this theory for awhile, and because I like to pretend I believe in all kinds of conspiracies (like the moon landing was faked), I’ve got a conspiracy theory of my own: I believe the tissue companies are injecting strains of colds into their boxes as product/job security. It seems every time we buy a new box of tissues we end up with runny noses and/or colds. Last week we bought a Costco sized pack and BAM: Costco sized cold. I might need to bring back the hankie . . .

Okay, I think that’s all for my swamp water randomness for the day. :) Now, tell me something random about what’s going on in your life!

This post does include affiliate links but I only promote products I know and love, you can read my disclosure here.

Linking up with Oak+Oats today.

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