Category Archives: My Life

The Cute as a Button Emily Dress from Parental Instinct Blogging 21 JUN 2016

A little while ago, Baby Steps let us know that Emily needed to come to playschool the next day dressed as a sports player – all very well and fun, but not so great when you don’t actually own anything even remotely sporty for your little girl toddler!

However, as luck would have it, a beautifully packaged blogger drop from the team at Frontpage Communications on behalf of Parental Instinct arrived at our front door in the afternoon – and wouldn’t you believe it, inside the box was the cutest toddler polo/tennis dress I’ve ever seen!

You want to know something ever more funny? That particular dress is called… wait for it – The Emily Dress! Talk about a happy coincidence.

Emily was of course thrilled to come home to this awesome surprise, and very proudly went to playschool the next day to show off her cute as a button tennis dress to anyone and everyone that she could find!

Actually, pretty much all the Parental Instinct clothing line is awesome. Started by two sport, style and design-loving dads, Paddy Muldoon and Chris Baff (who between them have 37 years spent in the design, production and marketing of sportswear), Parental Instinct was initially dreamed up as a humour-fuelled business idea, but then turned into a very clever movement for producing good looking, easy to care for, and even easier to use children’s wear.

“By taking the innovations trusted in sportswear and applying them to iconic children’s wear essentials, each of Parental Instinct’s unique products include stain resistant and release nano-technology, as well as colour-coded snaps in an attempt to make parenting as easy as pie.”

Oh, and in case that all sounds a bit like marketing guff, they even released a video about what they mean:

Very clever.

Related Link: Parental Instinct | Emily Dress

Coffee at Mondeor and a Stroll around Cape Garden Centre (2016-06-16) Photo Gallery 18 JUN 2016

Of all the things to catch, I was stuck at home in quarantine with German Measles for a week. My period of quarantine ended the day before Thursday’s Youth Day public holiday, so I promptly escaped my cabin by taking the kids out for supper at the Sunset Bay Spur here in Gordon’s Bay. (Which naturally they rather enjoyed.)

The next day was of course the public holiday, and so after making pancakes for the girls and myself for breakfast, doing a bit of gardening and DIY, and chilling for a teeny tiny bit, I took the girls out with me for a walk around Paardevlei in Somerset West. (Which they kind of enjoyed, but less so than the previous evening’s trip to the Spur!)

Anyway, by the end of our stroll Chantelle’s shift at work had finished, so we rung her up and organised a coffee date at Mondeor Garden Restaurant – always a hit with the girls thanks to their great outdoor play area.

Despite the chilly weather, the girls ran around and entertained themselves, leaving Chantelle and myself to enjoy some nice coffee and every now and then, steal a sip from the girls’ milkshakes.

Oh, and because we were in no rush to get back home, we then strolled around for a bit in the adjacent Cape Garden Center, marveling at all the pretty flowers and wishing that they would somehow just transplant themselves straight into our garden without any intervention from us at all!

Oh, and an embedded map, because I think that this might become a sort of regular thing for the blog…

Related Link: Mondeor Garden Restaurant | Cape Garden Centre

Doing the Paardevlei Nature Walk around the Vlei (2016-06-16) Photo Gallery 17 JUN 2016

With the breakfast pancakes made, a little bit of gardening done and dusted, a small bit of DIY under the belt, and the shopping mission now complete, I decided to continue our Youth Day 2016 public holiday by taking Jessica and Emily out for a walk about Paardevlei in Somerset West/Strand – something I myself was quite eager to do seeing as I haven’t yet strolled around the vlei either!

The historic Paardevlei site is in an interesting transition phase at the moment, slowly transforming itself from its industrial roots (a long time AECI dynamite factory complex) into a modern mix of small business and residential units (and an ultra modern hospital for good measure!), using its beautiful Herbert Baker and Francis Massey buildings (which date back to the late 1890s) and consequential design guides, as well as the natural beauty that comes from the relatively recently rehabilitated vlei (Paardevlei, from where the precinct takes it name), to potentially become a much sought after destination in the area.

With beautiful walkways lined with all manner of sculpture art, Paardevlei has a little Nature Walk section, the entrance to which can be found right next to the Cheetah Outreach Center. There are a lot of future plans for this nature walk of course, but for now, you have a small trail that runs around the vlei, dotted with seating areas and great views of the diverse bird life that populates the area.

A nice surprise is the large flock of flamingos that call the vlei home, and the girls and I rather enjoyed spending some time just sitting and watching these big birds go about their business in the water. Naturally, Jessica and Emily were very firm in the fact that there was no way we were going to walk the whole way around the vlei, so I had to make do with just part of the trail done!

Oh, and the art sculptures are for the most part pretty interesting too!

Related Link: Paardevlei | Paardevlei History

Willards Chilli Cheese Curls My Life 16 JUN 2016

The guys over at Eclipse PR sent through a surprise package to me the other day After a fair bit of driving around and feeling quite lost, the courier driver eventually found our house and handed over a bright yellow box with a big red ribbon around it. (These PR blogger drops are always exciting because you never quite know what’s going to be inside!)

With the ribbon eagerly removed, the lid of the box was opened to reveal three big bags of Willards Cheese Curls – one of the plain yellow ones that we all know and love, and two of the exciting orange ones, the so-called Chilli Cheese flavour Cheese Curls!

I used to buy Cheese Curls for the girls, so obviously Jessica was quite pleased and quickly snatched away the plain Cheese Curls (seeing as she’s not really adventurous when it comes to flavour). Emily on the other hand (surprisingly!) loves the chilli cheese flavour, and so quickly scuttled away with one of the orange bags in tow, leaving the last bag for Chantelle and myself (though we did periodically swipe from the girls’ bags too!).

Launched at the end of 2014, the previously limited edition chilli cheese flavour Cheese Curls are a great balance of tangy cheese and chilli, and proved popular enough that it stuck around and is now a fully fledged standalone product! (Plus, it also won a “Product of the Year” award for 2016).

So, I wonder what flavour combination those guys at Willards are going to be coming up with next…?

Baking Peanut Butter Cookies with the Girls (2016-06-11) Photo Gallery 15 JUN 2016

With me still waylaid due to my battle with German Measles, we didn’t exactly go out this weekend (I was still rather contagious, so better safe than sorry). As such, Chantelle made some time in the afternoon to treat the girls (and Cara who had been spending the day with us) to some peanut butter cookie baking – which needless to say went down quite the treat!

All three girls eagerly perched up high on the bar stools, taking in all the instructions that Chantelle was feeding them bit by bit. Getting involved is of course the super fun bit, and before long the girls were rolling their dough balls, patting them down on the baking tray, and sprinkling them with sugar.

Isabella dropped by to show us her gymnastics medals that she had just won, and she ended up joining in on the cookie bake as well!

The end result? Some delicious cookies for the rest of the weekend, and a well deserved Zootopia movie break for mommy and the girls!

Montgomery Pizza Party (2016-06-04) Photo Gallery 13 JUN 2016

Father-in-law Monty has for a long time wanted to have his very own pizza oven, and at long last, following quite a lengthy wait, the pizza oven is in, the preparation work done, leaving only one more thing to do – organize a pizza party!

Although Rob and Tarryn couldn’t join in on the sunny Saturday afternoon, Peter, Gail and Chantelle, myself and the kids joined Monty and Cheryl for the big pizza day, quickly setting to work in creating our very own pizza masterpieces from the smorgasbord of toppings assembled by the ladies.

Monty got the pizza oven burning nice and hot, with the initial attempts at a couple of garlic pizza for starters coming out perfect!

We were working with raw dough, so there were a few kinks to work out in terms of successfully transferring pizzas to the oven and back again, and outside of poor Peter’s overloaded pizza which didn’t quite make it back in one piece, Monty was soon churning out delicious pizza after pizza.

Everyone was enjoying the food and weather, and I was getting quite a kick of rolling around on the lawn with the girls. However, as our run of back luck this year would have it, it wasn’t soon before Emily wrapped her arms around my neck whilst I was sitting on the stairs, I got up, lowered to her the ground, heard a small click, and then watched in despair as Emily wailed in absolute agony, arm hanging limply at her side.

Sigh, there goes her arm again.

So off to Louis Leipoldt Hospital’s emergency center Chantelle and I rushed, leaving Jessica and the rest of the pizza party behind. Although not busy, it took a while to have everything checked out (x-rays included), the end result being thankfully no breaks or dislocations, but rather a painful elbow sprain instead.

So it was a bit of a disappointing end to what had been shaping up to be a brilliant day, but pleasingly Emily’s arm did at least recover during the course of Sunday, so I guess there’s that at least.

(This does of course mean then that I’m rather looking forward to the next shot at the pizza party. Very little beats the taste of proper home made pizza!)

Picnic at the Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (2016-05-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 JUN 2016

We discovered the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay last year, and following our delightful little outing to the Stony Point penguin colony with Retha and Miguel, we decided that the botanical garden would be the perfect spot for some delicious picnic food.

Which it was.

The slightly overcast weather must have driven off all the other visitors for the day, because we pretty much had the entire garden to ourselves. Selecting a beautiful lush section of lawn, we plonked our blanket down and started tucking in to a simple but yummy selection of Chantelle and Retha organized snacks.

The girls then decided that a short nap/chat was in order, while I missioned off with Miguel and the girls, eager to show off the first bridge leading into the Leopard’s Kloof area.

Sadly for me though, it turns out that the reconstruction of the bridges is now in full swing (the park was heavily damaged by flooding in 2013), which meant that we couldn’t really get very far as the first bridge is now inconveniently blocked off in the middle!

(Probably just as well because it turned out that my two little girls were in fact in NO mood to walk anywhere anyway!)

So instead, Miguel and I strolled around the gardens for a bit, played with the girls on the outdoor stage area, and then summoned the ladies to head off for coffee at the onsite Red Disa restaurant – a welcome which was made even more pleasant by the owner setting down some nice Old Brown Sherry in front of us when we got there!

I guess we’ll just have to give it another shot a little later then, once all the bridges are back up and running. As for a picnic venue, it’s quite difficult to beat the beautiful surrounds that make up the Harold Porter Botanical Garden!

Related Link: Harold Porter Botanical Garden

Visiting the Stony Point Penguin and Seabird Breeding Colony in Betty’s Bay (2016-05-28) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 JUN 2016

Since the kids, Chantelle and I have probably visited the world class African Penguin breeding colony at the Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay on average at least once a year, purely because it’s a works so well as a tourist attraction and is always an exciting outing for the little ones.

This time around we were playing host to good friends Retha and Miguel Sanchez (who’ve just launched a very exciting, South African-themed travel series called East West) and following a relaxing evening of sipping Jack Daniels together, we were excited to show off this site which neither of them had yet been to.

By this stage, most of the penguin chicks have already hatched, meaning that you are guaranteed in spotting many a juvenile penguin being fussed over by either their mom or dad penguin, making for some very cute sights indeed. As it was, we lucked out when on arrival, we came across a big group of penguins heading down the slipway for a quick dip!

As I’ve mentioned before, the beautifully constructed walkway is a real gem, allowing you to easily saunter through the breeding grounds and get some great views of both penguins and dassies alike. The weather was playing along perfectly, and the girls in particular were quite excited to have aunty Retha and uncle Miguel tagging along as a distraction!

In addition to all the cute and cuddly on display, all three species of cormorant, the Crowned, Cape and Bank cormorant, were out in full force over by the watch tower area, leading to thus a rather pleasant afternoon filled with sightings!

(In other words, a very successful outing indeed…)

Related Link: Stony Point Nature Reserve

Applying for an US B1/B2 Visa from Cape Town My Life 10 JUN 2016

There is a very good chance that I’ll be in the USA in July, first attending an expo in Anaheim, followed by a little sightseeing in San Diego with my work colleague (where Touchwork’s US office is based). As such, I obviously needed to organize a US visa – which as it turns out is not such a hard thing to do… unless of course you make it harder for yourself than what it should be!

So as I mentioned, the process is pretty simple. The first thing to determine is the type of US visa that you require. (Note, these days you do not need to have airline tickets booked yet, which is great because in the past if your visa application was turned down you would be left still sitting with some rather pricey tickets in your possession!)

For my purposes I need a B1/B2 non immigrant visa (business and tourist), and so my instructions are based on that particular visa type. To kick the actual process off, you need to complete a DS-160 online application, but before even that, it is a good idea to get the required visa photo out of the way, because you’ll need to upload a digital copy as part of your DS-160 submission. Be sure to check the photo requirements as advances in digital facial recognition software means that US visa photos now need a different set of requirements to what they did before.

As it turned out, although I did eventually go to a nearby Kodak Express for some printed photos to take along to the interview, a simple selfie on my phone against a white(ish) background, followed by some cropping in PhotoShop was good enough for the Americans.

The online DS-160 form takes a reasonable amount of time to fill in as a lot of questions qet asked, including information about school attendance, family etc. You can save and resume from any point, so taking your time to collect this information while you work on the DS-160 is possible. (Just be sure to remember your App ID as this is critical for this process!)

Once you have completed and submitted your DS-160 you will be asked to pay your non refundable visa processing fee online, which is currently $160 USD (and therefore cost me R2,480 at the time). With that done, you now move on to the next stage which is printing out the DS0-160 confirmation page (red document) and then scheduling your visa interview at the nearest US consulate.

For me the nearest consulate is the Cape Town site, situated in Reddam Avenue a few streets away from Touchwork’s offices in Westlake.

us consulate westlake cape town

It’s a good idea to take with some proof of strong ties to South Africa for your interview (e.g. proof of address, marriage certificate, bank statement, holiday itinerary), and so following a lovely weekend away in Stanford with Chantelle, I came into work nice and early on the Monday morning to print all of these documents.

However, as I printed the last file and glanced over the sheet telling me what I needed to bring with for my interview in an hour and a half’s time, I had a small heart attack when I realized that I had somehow completely forgotten my passport back home in Gordon’s Bay!

After a brief, to the point phone call to Chantelle, I stormed out of the office and raced back towards Somerset West, meeting Chantelle halfway at the Engen garage on the N2. She handed me my passport and I was off again, completing a very stressful journey as fast as I could!

Now I knew that there wouldn’t be any parking at the consulate building because understandably Americans aren’t fond of cars near government buildings as they tend to blow up every now and then, so I drove up Reddam Avenue nice and slowly, looking for an alternative place to park. However, I didn’t realise that Reddam school is of course at the top the the road, and at busy times, the route turns into a one-way. Yes, I was that despised twat that was riding up against the flow of parents in their super smart cars with my little black Getz.

Embarrassing.

Pro tip: If you have a trip to the consulate in Westlake organised, park instead at the bottom of the road at the Steenberg Village shopping centre and then just walk up.

Anyway, amazingly I managed to make my way back down without being killed or causing an accidents (though I was hooted at a lot), and walked up to the consulate with about 15 minutes to spare before my interview slot.

However you first need to clear security, so the suggestion is to leave all electronic devices at home. Whatever is not left at home is locked into small pigeon hole lockers, so keys, cellphones, etc. At this point you are also ticked off of the list and your required documents checked – which is the exact point my heart once again dropped when the lady manning the counter inquired as to where my printed DS-160 confirmation page was. As it turned out, I had printed the completely wrong thing! (Luckily for me though, what I had printed did at least have my App ID on it, so she sent me through with my passport, that and a photo neatly bundled together, suggesting that perhaps they might let me get away with that).

From there you step through some very thick steel doors and make your way across to the actual consulate building, where you wait for the first queue that checks your papers. The first thing that was pointed out to me was of course that I didn’t have the correct form (but they’ll use what I have) and that my digital photo was good enough, i.e. my paid for photos were unnecessary, and that had I not been able to get my passport on the day, I could just mail it in to them instead. Doh!

With that stage now passed, I was next called up for my interview, which takes place with a to the point American man asking me questions from behind a glass window using a telephone system – similar to what you see in prison setups on television. I was asked a small handful of questions relating to who I was, why I was going and for how long, and I guess because I have such a trusting face, was not asked for any supporting documentation at all. In total, my interview probably took little more than a minute to complete! (And not nearly as stressful as what I had imagined it might be!)

A couple of days later I received an e-mail telling me that my visa application was approved and my passport ready for delivery/pick up.

So that’s the process then, not particularly difficult or challenging unless you make it hard for yourself by forgetting things all over the place! Oh, and just to sweeten the deal, the US visa is valid for 10 years!

 

Visiting the University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden (2016-05-31) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 JUN 2016

I’ve mentioned in passing that I might be heading over to the US in July to attend an expo for business purposes, and as such I obviously needed to pick up a US visa – a story I still need to get around to telling in these pages. Anyway, I went through the process and instead of having it delivered to my door, I opted to pick it up directly from DHL, ostensibly because I wanted a reason to make a weekday trip through to Stellenbosch so that I could wander about the beautiful University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden without having the girls running around under my feet!

Located in the historical center of Stellenbosch and open to the public, the University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden is in fact the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa, having been first established at its current site in 1922, but with a history that dates back to 1902!

dav

The botanical garden is extremely compact, yet it is packed with a massive variety of thriving plant life, with plant species that are both indigenous or introduced. There are a number of theme gardens on the site, including a bonsai-en, bulb beds, waterliliy ponds, rockeries, fern house, tropical glasshouse and arid glasshouses. Many of these theme gardens date back to the founding of the Botanical Garden and some are still used by university students for practicals while others fulfill a purely aesthetic purpose.

There is a small restaurant situated in the middle of the lush trees (the Katjiepiering Restaurant), as well as a visitor center/shop and a plant sales section.

dav

The garden is extremely lush, superbly maintained, and the plants are well signposted, making exploring the garden a delight. If you are a more serious plant explorer, the University of Stellenbosch has invested in and released a Garden Explorer tool, which essentially provides a digital plant map for you to work with.

There are some spectacular and massive trees in the garden, including a huge California redwood that I took quite a liking to. The garden also hosts a lot of sculpture and art, so there is quite often some interesting pieces to stumble across as you work you way through the site. As you might expect then, the garden is a fantastic little spot to escape to in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy Stellenbosch, literally a small piece of green paradise in the middle of a very beautiful town!

There is no entrance fee, so if you love gardens, then I can highly recommend taking the time to pop in when you get a chance.

Related Link: University of Stellenbosch Botanical Garden | Wikipedia

Celebrating Dad’s 60th with Cake and Table Tennis (2016-05-29) Photo Gallery 08 JUN 2016

My dad, Ronnie Lötter, hit the big 60 eight days after I hit 36, but seeing as he was first off for a fabulous weekend of golf in George with his social golfing club, we had to wait a good couple of days more until we could enjoy a small family get together in order to celebrate this big milestone with the man himself!

dav

That said, turning 60 wasn’t the only milestone being celebrated – the end of May marked dad’s official retirement, meaning that at long last he could achieve his dream of retiring early, a very exciting prospect for mom and dad both!

To celebrate, Mom organized a braai at their place, with Ryan, Claire, myself and our respective families all present, and with a beautiful warm winter’s day in place, we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon of good food, chatter, and of course cake.

To mark the occasion, Chantelle came up with this fantastic safari-themed two tier cake that pulled in all the important loves in dad’s life, namely the great outdoors, squash and badminton, family, and of course golf.

(I in particular loved the reference to dad’s dead goose – an Egyptian geese that he once accidentally felled on the golf driving range back in the day!)

sdr

Obviously everyone had quite a lot of food on the day, which is probably why it was best that we then spent the rest of the afternoon playing it off with some competitive attempts at table tennis. (The games weren’t particularly great, but boy were they fun!)

Happy birthday Dad. Thanks for everything that you did for us as kids, and enjoy your retirement – you certainly deserve it!

Visiting the Overberg Honey Co. in Stanford (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 06 JUN 2016

Following our refreshing stroll among the boulders and sand of De Kelders in Gansbaai, Chantelle and I made our way back towards Stanford in order to continue our lovely Blue Gum Country Estate weekend away. However, as we entered the outskirts of the small heritage village of Stanford, a bright yellow signboard peaking out from the small industrial area caught our eye – and so we found ourselves pulling over and entering the bright yellow world of the Overberg Honey Co.

Established around 2011 by the young team of Daniel and Nadia Vorster, the thriving commercial honey producing Overberg Honey Co. pretty much maintains a presence only in Stanford, their business bolstered by their Overberg crop pollination service, something I had never actually thought about as being a commercial need before.

The Stanford shop doubles as the honey production house, bee information hub, and honey-related sales organ, and on the day that Chantelle and I visited, we were lead about by the most amazing Stanford local who was minding the shop for the weekend. This charming lady (a former teacher who now works with autistic children during the week) was a bubbly fountain of knowledge, as she proudly had us taste all the exquisite different types of honey they produce (due to the different crops/vegetation they set their hives up around), as well as show us the ins and outs of their honey production business.

Just as the similar Simply Bee product shop that we visited in Hopefield last year, Overberg Honey Co. also has an observation hive setup so that you can get a closer look at the workings of bees in the hive, as well as a wealth of bee information in the form of posters, pamphlets, and books scattered about.

By the end of our extended visit, Chantelle fell in love with Boekenhout (Cape Beech) honey and we walked out with a jar of that, but had we known about their honey on tap service, we may very well have come out with a lot more honey than just that!

A charming little stop in Stanford indeed.

Related Link: Overberg Honey Co.

Refreshing Ice Cream from Don Gelato in Stanford (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 05 JUN 2016

One of the best Stanford treats that we came across while walking around Stanford during our weekend away at the Blue Gum Country Estate, was without a doubt the quirky green ice cream shop that is Don Gelato!

sdr

That said though, I suspect that the wonderfully over-the-top Italian owner would not be pleased with me referring to his gelato as lowly ice cream!

Situated at 23 Queen Victoria Street, Don Gelato prides itself on making authentic homemade Italian gelato, using the best in organic ingredients. In fact, Don Gelato has become pretty well known for its incredible quality, with the result being that now in addition to the Stanford headquarters, one can now find a branch in both Hermanus and the Waterfront!

Chantelle and I were eager to taste what all the fuss was about, and after agonizing over which flavours to pick, we made our choices and strolled over to the back courtyard to enjoy the most delicious of treats!

Well, well worth it.

Related Link: Don Gelato | Stanford

A Xander Dad: Dad and the Code Featured on the Xander Apps Blog Blogging 04 JUN 2016

Stellenbosch-based Xander, an award-winning proudly South African venture courtesy of the well known Knott-Craig clan, produces educational apps for young children aimed at promoting mother-tongue learning. Children are able to engage with technology, learn and have fun all at the same time – a sentiment with which my young Jessica wholeheartedly agrees with!

Anyway, it was pretty cool of them to recently feature me and my Dad and the Code blog on their website as one of their Xander Dads (note, I’m actually the first dad included. Up until now it has just been Mommy bloggers!).

xander dad craig lotter dad and the code

Silly, I know, but deep down I kind of like it! ;)

Anyway, check out their website for more about their very kid-friendly and educational apps!

xander education apps

(Just like the Spar Savour Magazine feature, I made sure to grab screenshots for posterity!)

Related Link: Xander | Dad and the Code Feature

Strolling through the Village of Stanford (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 JUN 2016

As I previously mentioned, Chantelle and I recently enjoyed a relaxing (no kids!) weekend away at the Blue Gum Country Estate just outside of Stanford, which if you don’t know where it is, lies halfway between Hermanus and Gansbaai.

This heritage village was founded in 1857 and is named after its founder, Sir Robert Stanford who owned the original farmland. Situated in the heart of the Overberg, the tiny, relaxed village of Stanford is known for its beautifully preserved and renovated Cape Victorian and Edwardian styled houses and buildings, making it an absolute treat to walk about and take in all the quaint architecture around you.

And that is exactly what Chantelle and I did, first taking a slow drive around the village, before heading back to take a nice stroll down the main road. Although not particularly plentiful, there are some interesting shops and coffee stops to be seen, with the green Don Gelato ice cream shop/restaurant definitely standing out from the crowd! (Yes, we did stop to have ice cream!)

Also, located on the banks of the Klein River, Stanford boasts over 200 different bird species of which 30 are endemic to South Africa. In other words, the perfect spot if you are interested in your ornithology!

However, I suspect that most people either head out for wine or beer tasting at Birkenhead Brewery and the other surrounding wine estates, picnic at the Klein River Cheese Factory, or enjoy river cruises along the beautiful Klein River instead!

Related Link: Stanford