Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Gems in the rough: architectural brilliance hidden away...in Ghana.

The Dailymail carried a story headlined "The world's most spectacularly-designed houses that prove that nothing is impossible when it comes to architecture"

I idly clicked on the link not expecting to see anything close to home. But a house in God's own land, Ghana, made the list. I doubt many have seen it, or even know it exists but apparently it's here. The house belongs to Carsten Höller and Marcel Odenbach, both artists and is located near the Biriwa Beach resort.

After a little sleuthing (read as googling) on the web:

It's considered an artitechural wonder because if its unusual design, read the interview below for details: 

Would you like to live here though?

Monday, 14 October 2013

Legal knots: Ty-Tys

Ty-tys is a Nigerian brand that creates unique ties and bow ties using Ase-Oke fabric as well as vintage Damask. These ties are great for injecting a shot of colour into a dull outfit or adding a zing to a crisp white shirt.
What I found most fascinating about this line of Ase-Oke ties is that it is designed by a lawyer!
Given the jealous nature of the  law, it is always refreshing to see a lawyer branching out and combining active legal practice with other talents. 

Picture credit: http://africafashionweeklondon.com
Read his interview on AfricaStyleDaily and check out his website: Ty-Tys

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Dashing yet dangerous Italian Meringue Butter Cream

I had decide to embark on the 'perilous' adventure of making this lovely icing with my friend Jen, but she's abandoned me for another end of the planet  so I decided to attempt it alone. Perilous because stories are dotted all over the 'net of how wrong it can go.

I picked a an easy(ier) recipe off the internet, after scouring through hundreds and tried my hands at it.I will forever be grateful for that recipe: 

Essential equipment: Food mixer &  Sugar thermometer
The food mixer is needed because the eggs must be whisked at very high speed. I don't think it's humanly possible to whisk that fast for as long as the recipe requires. The Guinness Book of Records should look into a challenge like that.

The sugar thermometer is needed because the sugar syrup must be at the soft ball stage, which is a particular temperature. The Cake Tekniks shop the makola mall sells sugar thermometers, in case you're looking for one.

Sugar/ candy thermometer 
It took me ages to attempt it because I wanted to get my hands on a Sugar/Candy thermometer. It's said to be essential in making the icing, unless you can gauge exactly how sugar behaves at every stage.

You basically need  sugar, water, egg whites, butter and essence.

Only the egg whites

Cubed Butter at room temperature (unsalted)

That's basically all you need to create this magical, fluffy buttercream.
I was nervous about the outcome  so I documented the process very carefully. 

I put the sugar and water into a pan and stirred it with a whisk. It took about 3 minutes and 30 seconds to boil. I then got the chance to use my sugar thermometer. About 3 more minutes later the temperature climbed to the soft boil stage. 
At this point, no more heat!

Meanwhile, I had put the egg whites in the mixer bowl already and had started whisking at low speed so and I just tipped in the sugar syrup when it was ready, being careful not to hit the sides of the bowl or the whisk attachment while pouring.

When it all went in, I turned it up the mixer to high speed.

You should smell the eggs cooking.

The mixture has to be beaten at high speed until the mixture cools to room temperature. This is to ensure the eggs are completely cooked. 
My mixing bowl is plastic, so it did not heat up as much as a metal bowl would have (I think). 
I allowed it to mix on high speed for 10 minutes and then decided it had reached room temperature.

I then reduced the speed to medium and in went the butter, a few tablespoonfuls at a time.

Some recipes suggested switching to the paddle attachment for the 'heavy mixing'. I ignored the advice (and regretted it later,lol!) Next time I make it, I will switch to the paddle at this point. The icing is much smoother, with no extra buttery bits, in my experience.  

Added in the vanilla essence, turned it on  high to incorporate for just over a minute.

Then taste! 
It can be stored in the fridge, even freezer, quite well. But good luck not finishing it all!

One of my favourite cake bloggers has a similar different recipe, minus the sugar thermometer - in case you don't have one and want to attempt it too.

I used mine to ice a cake for a friend's baby shower. What will you use your's for??

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Tag: The Liebster Award

This award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers to recognize them and their hard work. I was tagged by the lovely MUA Annette of http://naturalistagh.blogspot.com way back in February!! I'm extra embarrassed because this has just been sitting in drafts! so much for hard work. Smh at myself.  

The Rules:
1. Each person must post 11 random things about themselves (optional)
2. Answer the 11 questions that the tagger set for you.
3. Choose 11 bloggers who you would like to give the Liebster Award.
4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you have tagged with the award to answer. 

11 random things?? pick 11 from here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/abbie-agyekum/a-number-of-random-thingsfinally-wrote-it/54984114823

1. Food or Music?
That's a toughie!! But music is the lazier option, so I'll go for that,lol. Food requires a lot of work, unless I am not the one cooking it.... I'm lying food.

2. Favourite movie
My fave Ghanaian movie of all time is True colours. I'm not sure if animation counts but my all time favourite movie would be the Lion King, lol.

3. Favourite Shop
My fave shop is Zara. I will raise money and pull that company to Ghana. 
credit: The Guardian 

4. What is your pet peeve?
I have so many...from black polyethene bags in my fridge to people digging for gold (boogies) in public...mad hatter trotro drivers...oohhh don't get me started
for sale at: http://www.artsyhome.com/product/dont-get-me-started

5. I have a "phobia" of ......
cockroaches...they're disgusting and sooo hard to destroy.
(don't expect a picture)

6. Tell me a secret about you
I'm very shy. But I fake being bold so well even I believe it,lol. 
credit: http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-fake-it-till-you-become-it/

7. Makeup or Hair?
Until very recently I'd have said hair. But I'm getting into make up now so I'll say both.

8. Heels or Flats?
What are flats????

9. Boobs or Butts?
I have boobs so butts...which reminds me I must start doing squats!
credit: http://fitnessbunny123.wordpress.com

10. Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook. I like pictures and talk too much for Twitter.

11. Natural Haired or Relaxed Haired
Naturalista and enjoying it!
credit: http://www.123rf.com

My 11 Bloggers:
+Annette Akye  of http://naturalistagh.blogspot.com
+Esther Gbudje  of http://houseofsienna.blogspot.co.uk
+Cecil Tim-Pappoe of http://www.lifeandcookingit.com
Dava of http://dramedies.blogspot.com
+Nana Achiaa Amoako of http://mzunderstood-junkmail.blogspot.com
+Juliet Ajaab of http://azedi.blogspot.com
+Nana Oye Odame of http://etoileoye.blogspot.com
+Jemila Abdulai of the famous http://www.circumspecte.com
Sandidy of http://sandidystories.blogspot.com
 +Theo Acheampong of http://theoacheampong.blogspot.co.uk  (it's not an economics quiz but try! lol)

Totally Random Questions:
1.What was your first blog post about (not the welcome one)?
2. What's your style sense like? Not a hair out of place or more laid back?
3.Would you rather watch TV or read a book?
4.R & B or Rap?
5.Homemade cake or bakery/ shop bought?
6.Favourite book and favourite author?
7.Cupcakes or muffins?
8.Daredevil activity you would attempt if you knew you'd come out unharmed?
9.5 of your Wardrobe staples? (eg. white shirt, black tee...)
10. Would you wear African print daily if you could?
11.Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Against the Tide

Sitting on a rock on the stony shore, she watched the waves wash the sand away from her feet, then run back to kiss her toes. Over and over again. 
She did not have a particular reason for being on the shore so late. Maybe she did. Perhaps it was to make sense of the turbulent waves of her own life. Perhaps it was for some peace. Even she was not sure. 
Her phone rang, as phones often do, inconveniently interrupting the moment before the long awaited epiphany. Irritated she said, "hello!" sharply into her earpiece. 
The sound of his voice surprised and disarmed her. She had not been expecting to hear from him. Her tone immediately softened, and she apologised for the frosty reception. |She smiled because they said people could hear a smile in your voice and she wanted him to know she was happy to hear from him. They exchanged pleasantries, he delivered a mundane piece of information a went on his merry way. Just like that. He never seemed affected or bothered. She was the one left struggling to hold it together. Once again.  
Her disappointment was so palpable that she could taste it in her mouth. It was salty! Then she realised that the salt was from her tears. She hated how he dangled himself as a carrot before her. She was the ass, the proverbial donkey, hankering for a bite of the juicy carrot and drooling after him. How she hated it and yet how helpless she felt. 
Slipping out of her jeans and sweater, she waded into the ocean. It was an icy shock to her system. Any shock was better than the heart shocks she felt though. Determined to outrun her pain she swam deeper and deeper. 
The ocean was a mystical thing: dark and swirling, foamy and frothy. It called to her, opening its arms in a welcoming embrace, and she answered. 
picture credit: jessicakristie.com

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Recommended Reading

I love to read. 
As a child, I was a regular at the Ghana Library board, next to the courts in Accra Central. Initially, I would borrow 25 books but I was usually done with them within 2 days. After that my poor father would know no peace, as I would bug him for books to read, even going to the extend to sharing his law books with him. I Graduated to 50 books and had soon read most of the books they had, if not all appropriate for my age bracket and slightly above. They had so many books, from Tintin to only God knows who. I was a voracious reader and devoured them all. 
I don't understand why people don't like to read. Books can instantly transport you back in time or propel you into the future; set you on a crime scene or on a magic carpet or broom, zooming through the air. It's like a mini-break from the environment you find yourself in...at least for me, it is. And along the way you effortlessly pick up vocabulary. Goodness knows it is needed around here! I am a wannabe grammar nazi, so don't get me started on the English language. 
Today the Ghana Library board library is a shadow of its former self, as far as I am concerned. It was like a magic cave of wonder to me when I was young, with tons of adventures waiting to be had. It makes me really sad that kids who might want to read won't get the chance to. Would love to lend them all books to read...
Anyway, I digress. Like most ghanaian children I grew up mostly on the books of foreign, non-African writers. Titles from the African Writers series were frequently on my reading list though. I also remember a series called Young writers or something like that with very relatable characters and stories. Fast forward time and there more and more African writers whose works are more readily available. I found this 'list' of books on facebook: Afro Book's page: 
male authors

Female authors

female authors

I've only read:
1. The Girl Who Can and other stories
2.Anthills of the Savannah,
3.Things Fall Apart and
4. half of No Longer at Ease.
5.The Colour Purple
7. Dilemma of a Ghost
8.Half of a Yellow Sun
I have a lot of reading to do, as far as this list is concerned.
I trust that bibliophiles such as the lovely Dava of  http://dramedies.blogspot.com/ willl make minced meat of this list. She's already reviewed Americanah: http://dramedies.blogspot.com/2013/05/americanah.html
How many have you read?? and When are you going to start with the others?

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The "Thrilla in Tudu"

The rains had the ability to turn the streets in and around the market from bustling commercial hubs in their own right, into a competition with garbage and debris.  And as if is that wasn’t enough, mud and puddles of murky, foul water laid ambush for hapless pedestrians. The harsh afternoon sun would chair over the proceedings with its punishing glare.
Ugh. As you can see, I was really dreading the monthly trip to the National Service Secretariat at Tudu. (I don't even want to start on that subject) At least I had company today, and that made any arduous activity more bearable. 
On our way back to the Ecobank at Tudu, where we had parked under false pretences, the four of us walked in a single file. I could never understand why the sellers left no space for the pedestrian-buyers to walk. Surely, it had to be better for business if they had room to walk, stop and admire wares etc…wasn't it? Instead they left thin strips of pavement, slimmer than the planks on the Kakum walkway and you were forced to stage an elaborate balancing act in order not to disturb the well-arranged wares.

All I was thinking of was the cool banking hall ahead of me, where I could sit down. 
I suddenly almost lost my balance. The dirty urchin who had just pushed me must have heard my thoughts and wanted to offer me a seat on the ground…in the mud, or on someone’s pile of children’s jelly shoes??  

None of the options appealed to me, so I flailed my arms about me wildly, trying to steady myself. I lunged forward again; the twat was still steadily trying to make his way past me, attempting to floor me in the process.  Righting myself, yet again, I sharpened my mouth ready to launch into a tirade. “Are you stupid?” I planned to begin. 
As he was directly in front of me, I couldn't help but notice his grimy hair and clothes. His head looked small and slightly misshapen and his mouth looked as if it had been slapped onto a too small chin as an afterthought.  Even I, occasionally, have bouts of compassion and decided to let the matter slide. I dusted myself off and began to walk away.
[This all happened in less than a minute]

“Hey!! Hey!!” I heard a woman shout, and began to beat a hasty retreat before I got yelled at for stepping all over the glittery, little, plastic shoes.
“Where is your phone?” My colleague asked me, holding on to the pushy man firmly.
Alarm bells set off. I felt my pockets. Pocket one: the galaxy was present. Pocket two: *gasp!* the blackberry was absent!! 
I quickly turned around; the dirty ragamuffin was holding the white blackberry in his filthy hand! 
“Why do you have her phone?” my associate asked the pickpocket.
People had started to pay attention now, gathering slowly around the two of them.
He replied in twi, hastily “It’s for her, it fell down, and I was picking it for her”

The scene of the boxing bout. Can you spot the shoes? 

Further dialogue was unnecessary. My phone had not fallen from my pocket. He had pushed me to distract me while stealing my phone and had hidden it under the towel he was holding. 
The phone was promptly handed back to me. A dark man standing behind the thief landed a hefty slap on the fellow's check, he never saw it coming. That signalled the beginning of the Thrilla in Tudu and flurry of slaps rained down on the thief. Instant mob justice, feeli feeli. So much for  legal process,lol. I was frozen in place! To think I had just felt sorry for the guy a few minutes ago, while he was doing me in! I did almost feel sorry for him now, he had just become the vent for everyone's frustrations. A lot more 'slappers' had joined in, and the melee had moved to the middle of the street. Blows and kicks were flying, all directed at the thief, with our friend in the thick of it all.
Such excitement!
The market women huddled around me, asking questions, full of praise for the rescuer of my phone.
The thief suddenly came running right towards me in his bid to escape. In a flash he had pushed past me and fled, with a few men in hot pursuit.  

Huddling around the man of the moment, I thanked him over and over. The market women were showering him with praise and bestowing appellations on him. “Wo de gentle no ato nky3n!” “Wo y3 b33ma paa!!” “W’ay3 adi3 paa!! Mo!”
Who on earth would want to steal in this economic climate, which had people's tempers permanently heated?Tightly grasping my phone, we walked away recounting the event and wishing we had filmed it. 
The bustle continued. As we drove off, we saw a guy walking through the crowd behaving in a similar manner...hopefully, he will be as lucky as 'our' thief had been when he gets caught. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Best Man's Dilemma (2)

Continuation of The Best Man's Dilemma 
Declining, she explained that she had driven her sister's car to work that day, so assured Ato that he didn't need to drop her off. Guard down, he leaned in to accept the grateful hug that she offered....

As they often say, One thing leads to another. That hug led to a kiss. That kiss led to a 'proper' make out session. Primal urges took over: jackets were crumpled, make up was wiped off, shirts were missing a button or three and a rip appeared in Tina's hem, accompanied by the obligatory stamp of shame.

Neither of them could remember exactly how they had gotten home that night or who had stopped their session from escalating further. But now they were both hooked. They still snuck out, but no longer just for lunch. They masterminded covert operations to meet up secretly, coded messages were transmitted and they engineered their schedules to ensure they always worked late, all the while laughing off their colleagues comments and taunts.
They continued this way for months.
One day, while shooting each other seductive glances across the room, Tina’s eyes fell on Ato’s desk. They fell on his girlfriend’s picture to be precise. It was still on his desk, and she was still smiling sweetly in the frame. Tina furrowed her brow. Across the room Ato wondered what that meant, this gaze wasn't the usual come hither look he was used to.
There and then she decided to cut it off. She wasn't a “bad girl”. Neither had she set out to steal any one’s man, or become the dreaded ‘other woman’. She definitely didn't want to be second fiddle to anyone. The only one her man should have on his desk was her! And if he couldn’t do that then she shouldn’t be with him.

Tina had been talking to a guy for some time. He was really charming and caring, plus he was single. Picking up her phone, she replied his message, which had been left unanswered from morning.
A few weeks after that she decided to go on a weekend away with him to an idyllic spot that she had wanted to visit for ages. The entire trip was amazing. Michael was sweet, charming and completely attentive. 
There was only one problem, he wasn't Ato.

As soon as Tina got home she arranged to meet Ato. As she later narrated to a friend, I decided that I couldn't lie to myself anymore. "...I told Ato that I loved him and only him  and that I didn't want to be with anyone else, regardless of his circumstances...but he didn't say anything and I was so crushed and disappointed"

The silent man may not have said much at the time but he broke up with his girlfriend a few days later. Ato did not tell his girlfriend the real reason why he was splitting up with her. He felt that it was better that way. He really didn't want to hurt her and he truly cared for her very deeply. But the connection that he had with Tina was so intense; he simply could not ignore it any longer.
Ato and Tina started to date officially after that, much to the revulsion of their colleagues. But they didn't care, instead they worked through the guilt they both felt about how their relationship started. They were finally free to be together and shrugged off all the nastiness. Tina ignored all the comments that people passed and the 'advice'. She could not even fathom the thought that Ato would cheat on her: Their relationship was too important, they had been through too much and what they shared was much too special. Those were Ato's precise words, and she believed them.

...Three years later Ato and Tina are getting married and are at the rehearsal dinner...

Kwame shook his head. In church? Hmmm. How can I possibly tell this 'adulterous' story, even though it would captivate and titillate its audience, in the church!??! The best man wondered. Catching, the eye of the groom he gestured for him to come over to his seat. They needed a cover story, and fast!  

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Best Man's Dilemma

Ato and Tina worked in the same office. Tina had gotten to know him pretty well after working closely with him on a client's account. She found him absolutely irresistible but he had a serious girlfriend and he was a straight laced kind of guy. He wore the girl like a shield and made it clear to everyone in the office that he was serious about his girlfriend. He even kept a picture of her on his desk and spoke to her often during the day. He spoke so highly of her and the work she did. No one couldn't believe such handsome, 'clean' guys existed any more!
It started out as a joke, Tina began to call him my "my office boyfriend", named their relationship the "AccuRate affair" (after the name of the client whose account they were working on) and it quickly turned into a major flirtation.
They would e-mail each other all day, sneak out for lunch, meet by accident after work, magically bump into each other on weekends and joke about it all at work. Ato was joking...initially. Tina laughed through it all, but not because she found it funny.
Tina knew it was getting serious one afternoon when they were driving back to the office after a cosy lunch somewhere. He placed his hand on her knee the whole way. You think that was nothing, but it was electrifying for Tina.  And if you knew Ato you would understand that it was a big deal.

All this while nothing 'major' had happened.

A few weeks after the 'first contact' Ato and Tina had to work late. Nothing untoward happened. It really was a just a late nate at the office, working hard to meet a deadline. When they wrapped up their tasks they congratulated each other and Ato offered Tina a ride. Declining, she explained that she had driven her sister's car to work that day, so assured Ato that he didn't need to drop her off. Guard down, he leaned in to accept the grateful hug that she offered....

[to be continued]

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Stolen Affection

I opened my eyes, giving up on the sleeping charade. I was sweating, even though the A/C was on, blowing a cool breeze right over my head. I had been tossing and turning for about an hour. The bed felt huge and lonely. I hadn't slept a wink since Nat left. 

Sitting up and wrapping the sheet around myself, I hugged my knees. They were all I had to hold. I had never had trouble sleeping alone. In fact, I enjoyed nothing more than sprawling across my large bed and enjoying the fact that I didn't have a man hogging my luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets or snoring loudly, disturbing me. 

Today wasn't one of those nights. 

Tonight I wanted nothing more than my boyfriend's comforting arms. His soothing voice telling me that everything would be fine. I wanted his comforting presence. His, perhaps empty reassurances, but assurances nonetheless. 
But there was nothing. Nothing but the deafening silence of the night. The coolness blowing from A/C suddenly felt like an Arctic wind. I shivered and reached for the duvet. My phone was underneath it. I picked it up and slid my finger across the screen to unlock it. The harsh light from the display made me wince. A tear fell from my eye and surprised me.  Irritated,  I swatted the tear away like a fly. 
The truth is that I couldn't call him. Not at this time. It was much too late. He would probably be in bed, asleep. Maybe not asleep, but it wouldn't be convenient. It would be risky to upset him. I didn't like upsetting him. 

That unruly bit of me was it it again; screaming, urging me to dial, what about you!? what about your needs?? Call him! But in times like this I thanked God that I was reasonable and level headed enough to ignore my recalcitrant inner voice. Thinking about God made me feel guilty. I shouldn't be thanking Him, I should be hiding under an impermeable rock from Him. In times like this, when I felt most alone, I felt Him watching intently, asking if I was ready to walk back into His embrace. But the pleasure, stolen kisses and clandestine meetings were so much more alluring during the day. I often felt so powerful. Only to be reduced to this embarrassingly whimpering figure once in a while. More and more often lately.
I decided to be stubborn, so I dialled his number, pressed the speaker button and waited. I wish you could see me. My whole body coiled in readiness like an athlete. I waited with bated breath as the phone icon appeared and began to transmit the call. It rang. Once. Twice. Thrice. It kept ringing. Again and again. "The number you have dialled has not answered..."
 The screen was a blurry fuzz of light. I was crying.

When did I allow myself to become this person??  I felt like such a stereotype. A mere statistic. Listening to the same old excuses, believing the same old lies, forgiving the same old broken promises?? 
When? What happened to me? When did it push me away from God? leaving me fatherless. How on earth had I gotten to this point? I had been lonely before, that was my justification but I was as good as alone now, wasn't I? 

I would see my little sister the following morning. She always made me happy. I made a mental note to tell her to learn to guard her heart. People will use it, stomp on it, destroy it and throw it away...if you allowed them. 
That is what I have learned. The great love that I felt has destroyed the person I once was and replaced it with a woman who has no identity, heart and soul. All I am now is mostly depressed and inconsolable, unless he is with me. I would tell her that as women we need to think twice about getting involved with a man who belongs to someone else, no matter how much we love him.

My phone beeped, a text message. 
It was from Nat:

My wife is sleeping and I don't want to disturb her. Is something wrong? Hope you're ok. I'll call you in the morning,on my way to work. Sleep tight x

credit: wisdom4wives on Instagram

Monday, 28 January 2013

Birthday cake

I was given the chance to make my boss' birthday cake. 
That's the kind of thing that you definitely do not want to mess up...so of course I didn't sleep till it was near perfect. 
The very beginning... 

after a sleepless night and the near-certain feeling that this cake would get me fired,lol

That unruly, bent candle tho!

2 Choctastic layers with a red velvet layer sandwiched in between with cream cheese icing and drowned in chocolate

Monday, 7 January 2013

Belated New Year's greetings

One of my...I will hesitate to call it a New Year's resolution...decisions this year was to do less generally and focus on specific things, like this blog.
Let me say Happy New Year since I haven't had the chance to. Hope you have been staying on track with what you resolved to do.
So many days into the New Year, I'd say I'm in danger of failing...lol.
My current short term mission in life is to find a balance....before I drown. I'm swamped with work and can't find much time for my other activities. Is there anyone else on the planet trying to get used to going to work every single day and struggling? Come and give me some advice please. This weekend found me stuck in bed. It wasn't even a choice. I could not move. Your body will take it's rest, so just give it up without a struggle. I've learnt my lesson.
I'm quickly discovering that being a student is very different from working: coffee can sustain you through all nighters for a while...it doesn't quite work when you have to be back on the ball the next day! lol. There is that sense of satisfaction  when you shut a large file like-a-boss because you're done with it though...little pleasures.
This too shall pass. At least that's what I tell myself.

It's a year of New things here in Ghana...New President, New Government, New every-things [I hope!] 
Praying we all have a thankful heart and lots of things to be grateful for same time next year.
God bless!