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My Best Reads

Tagged by my good friend and old neighbor – Wanja Kinyanjui on Facebook  to list the top 10 books that have touched and stayed with me. I’ll break the chain and do it on the blog because I think I’ve posted too much on facebook already. Then I’ll tag YOU my reader. You can leave some of your best reads on the comment section, I might just get a couple for my next read.

Good Reads, Books

 

Wow, I have read a couple of books in my lifetime, mostly school books … lol. But there’s no way in good heavens I am putting those up of course. Thing is, I’m not a complex reader and I came to accept that fact. So I wouldn’t touch a book that’s difficult to decipher or even read – hence why I was unable to do documentaries. I tried … I really tried to be the cool kid with huge books at one point in my life. As well as try read sci-fi’s and ish – you know the Harry Potter’s of this world. If it’s not real, I feel wasted, because I want to relate. Hmm, let’s see my list, here goes:

  1. Little women – Louisa May Alcott – Got it from my mum’s shelf, way back when #beingateenager. I was looking for a book to read and what a better book for a girl growing up than this one. Louisa captures her life story together with that of her 3 sisters. How they balanced their personalities and roles within the home setting. I took ages to read because it was an almost slow book, but interesting because you can relate to a lot that they went through while growing up even if in a different setting.
  2. Captivating – Unveiling the mystery of a Womans Soul” – John and Stasi Eldredge – Gifted by Mum for my birthday. It was about understanding myself as woman. Which got me to write two review posts: Every Woman’s Desire and What Defines A Woman, I was that touched.
  3. Alchemist | Aleph – Paulo Coelho – I bought them. I love symbols, I love interpreting stuff in a way that I understand best and this book allowed me to through the mind of another writer.
  4. Family Album| The Wedding | Safe Harbor | family ties | 2nd Chance | Big Girl – Danielle Steel – I stole most of these Danielle Steel books from my mum’s shelf, she’s a huge fan and so am I by extension. She writes about life experiences ranging from personalities, family, marriage, love, relationships, and careers. I don’t know if she imagines these stories or they are true stories, because they pretty much sound like just what happens. I could read her books all day, errday.
  5. Half of A Yellow Sun | Americanah | Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Adichie – I have a girl crush on her writing. She’s such a storyteller, I love it. When I read her books, I direct a movie in my mind. I even imagine how her cast looks like in my mind and how the scenes unveil. And well, after watching Half of a Yellow Sun, I’m so damn right, or rather she got it right – the movie met my expectations to the dot.
  6. Eat, Pray, Love | Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved the 1st book, so I got the 2nd . I liked how she was able to openly express herself through her writing. If I was to write a book, I would almost do it like her, but now in my way. The Eat, Pray, Love movie didn’t quite meet my expectations though, a lot was axed in the movie.
  7. There are so many books I’ve bought on the streets of famous writers, the likes of Stephen Frey and his other genius writer friends who are best sellers. Read them but unfortunately I can’t remember their names or their titles. That happens to me A LOT, in movies I’ve watched too.

But just so that you know a little more about my reading life,

“I love books with a storyline. I don’t like motivational books. Especially those that tell me what to do or not to do with my life, I think we all know what to do, we just need some inspiration – tell me a story instead, I can learn from it and derive my inspiration from your experience.”

Terrific Tuesday lovelies.

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*

Thee Local Shepherd’s Pie and Snippets

My colleague challenged me. She came with some good smelling delish food that looked like lasagna but it wasn’t (I think I’ll be obsessed with it until we prepare it). She educated me, it’s called a shepherd’s pie. Did you also know that the “ph” in shepherd is pronounced “p” and not “f”. English is such a complicated language, and my nursery teacher must’ve been saying it with the “f” because I can’t seem to get myself to say it the right way. Those are my problems.

Anyhow, when I went home, I was set that I’m making the Shepherds pie. And so I started the process. I was so psyched up, like you have no idea. The only problem is that the master chef wasn’t around (travelled for work), so I was doing it solo. And boy, oven things are not my strength. The setting of the heat degree (converting Farenheit to Celsius – or googling it), timing and how to heat it (top, bottom, both, grill). I felt like breaking down at some point. I felt like I’d gotten everything else right, except the most important part, the baking.

While I struggled with that process, I thought of life. First I was taken aback when I found out that Robin Williams had depression, I mean, the Mrs. Doubtfire (among many other hilarious comedies) guy. I had tried to read articles about it to understand what goes on some time back and the one that really explained it to me in a way that I deciphered what goes on was Hyperbole & a Half, here and here. I’ve seen it happen to some people close to me, so it’s real, not imaginary. What I always wonder is, what can one do to be there for someone? I get depressed to0 or experience bouts of sadness – but it’s hormonal – you know that time close to that time of the month. But at least I can get or talk myself out of it, but what about that person who can’t? What can someone do for them?

I digress. So back to the part where I thought about life as I baked away (that’s a good struggle by the way). In life, there are things that you totally get right. Especially things that’s you’re already used to. You know those things that come easy for you – yeah you know them – I would compare it to a meal you love cooking, you have it on your fingertips, you can even cook with your eyes close and still get it right.

On the other hand, you’re faced by things that make you feel like you’re totally doing it wrong. Leave along getting it wrong, because you don’t even get it in the first place, this can be frustrating. This could be like cooking a new or unfamiliar meal. One that you even had no idea existed, so you have to skirmish your way through learning how to do it. Chances are that you’ll be hard on yourself with the outcome. You’ll feel like it’s not good enough, it’s not that sweet enough, it doesn’t look so appealing, maybe others won’t enjoy it. And so is with many things in life. Especially those that don’t come to you easy.

Just when you think you’re getting it wrong, you’re probably getting it right. Just that you’re intimidated by that wrong feeling that you miss out on what’s going right. We really cock-block ourselves sometimes, it’s a matter of believing in yourself, hard as it is.

Ever felt like that? That’s exactly what I felt about my Shepherd’s pie. But I believed in myself and ate it with so much pride and carried it for lunch. I don’t think I did such a bad job, it was edible and tasty too. Now that I think of it, I’m looking forward to dinner and to having the master chef taste it too (and give his verdict). Except that my potato cover didn’t brown, it yellowed (with very faint shades of browning) *sob* that’s all I was waiting for. There’s something about browning and success in baking.

Recipe, Shepherds Pie, Cheese, Minced Beef, Food, Kenyan Foods, Mashed Potatoes

See ingredients below

Ingredients

  • Potatoes
  • Minced Beef – More like the way I made it here.
  • Vegetables – 1 Green Pepper, 1 Tomato, 1 Onions, 1 Carrot – you can add peas, corn, mushrooms and so on.
  • Spices – mixed Spices, Black Pepper, paprika, royco, cayenne pepper, soy sauce, garlic.
  • 2tbs Butter
  • Salt
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Procedure

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200o
  2. Dry fry the minced beef with the spices.
  3. Mix the potatoes and mash them with butter, milk, cheddar cheese and garlic until soft.
  4. Combine the meat and vegetables and spoon them into a square baking dish.
  5. Cover with potato mixture. Bake for 30 min or until it starts browning.
  6. Shred the remaining cheddar on top of the cover and bake it for 10 mins, it’ll look like it’s bubbling, cue to remove it.
  7. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 5-10 mins. Then serve.

You can totally try it out and tell me how yours turns out, I challenge you. Happy Friday loves!

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*

Back to Life

Let me tell you something we (bloggers) don’t tell you; sometimes, we run out of things to say, then we get a sudden epiphany or an inspiration from the people or things around us. Other times, you have things to say but you question its validity. Considering everyone has their own personal opinion on that thing that you’re about to write on, yet you’re putting your opinion out there for it to be judged. It’s a tough hobby this one, but fun all the same because you put your mind out there.

Where the old school people at? Remember Soul II Soul’s – Back to Life? They had such cool rhythms and flows then, that when you think of a word, the lyrics all come flowing, even if you’re poor at cramming lyrics like I am. I just thought of “back to life” and the next thing that came along was “back to reality” and a tune to back it up. Also, made me think of LPs and how cool they were and if they’re available anymore, even on the olx.com.gh’s of this world, they’d make good keepsake’s now. Took me back for a moment there.

Anyhow, I divert. This weekend we did our 1st traditional visit – I was in the clouds, now I’m back to life. You know where the fiancé comes over with his boys and his uncles to book his girl (for lack of a better way to say it), state their intentions and discuss the way forward in terms of dowry and the marriage that follows. It was a new experience and quite interesting too given the . Life is about learning, unlearning and re-learning – that’s one thing I appreciate about it. There are things they never teach you in school and this weekend I got a dose of what they didn’t teach me, our culture and its importance.

I always wondered why folks made a big deal about the culture. I didn’t think it’s necessary at some point, I thought it was just a way of them making the process hard for you, you know like their parents did. At the mention of culture I cringed, because of the stories I’ve heard. Stories about the bride’s family extorting the groom’s family. I always wondered why people in the western world just went ahead and dated, engaged and got married without any internal processes taking place. Maybe I got that wrong, because I’ve never actually been in one or know a friend who told me the story, it’s what I saw in movies.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t nervous at first because I know my family. I know my parents, my aunties and my uncles, but the more I let the thought of “what if the stories I hear come closer home”, I started becoming nervous. Then I expressed my fear to my parents and aunts and I loved how they taught me this lesson.

Like a girl attending a basics class on tradition and culture 101, they first explained to me how theirs went down. They were all so funny, because none of them were even there, their parents are the ones who carried out the process because they were far but had identified their spouses, but for them to go ahead and get married, the families first had to meet, know where each other is from and create a bond. And this is what the introduction, dowry and many other process did.

Every society has a culture. Culture is made up of traditions, beliefs, and ways of life, from the most spiritual to the most material. It gives us meaning, a way of leading our lives. Without which we’ll lose ourselves and the core of who we really are. Culture is just not another adornment or accessory that we human beings can use, it’s what makes us human. Culture helps us to define our relationships and engagements with our immediate family and the society at large. It’s also what helps us grow the bond between the different societies, by allowing them to identify with others of similar mindsets and backgrounds. The meeting and mutual respect between two different cultures and how they merge to become one big family.

This weekend, I am proud that my family finally connected with my fiancé’s family and that by living up to our different cultures, we were united. And truth be told, now that it all makes so much sense, when I have kids, I will make sure that we do the same. It’s something to be proud of, especially when done with respect and love … it depicts appreciation to the parents for raising you and that you still want your family (from both sides) to be a part of you. This was just the beginning of many more to come, looking forward.

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*

 

 

Always #LikeAGirl

*Disclaimer: Just felt like writing something based on the campaign, but I’m not in any way associated with or endorsing Always.

I work with music and sometimes with imaginary music. When I have my headphones on and nothing is actually playing, but for some reason it feels like the music is on – and then I get into my zone. Does that ever happen to you? Anyway, as I was doing my internet rounds some time, I happened to come across this lovely ad. Confession, I love Safaricom and Samsung ads, the rest, I just “Skip Ad”. That aside, have you watched the Always #LikeAGirl ad, no? You can watch it here.

It took me down memory lane. I remember when I wrote this “Yes, I’m a Girl” post. We girls are really sensitive, I know dudes are too (I’m just massaging your ego by the way), but we’re a special breed and by all means, in a good way. That’s why people would tell you you’re doing something “like a girl”. I don’t think it’s an insult per se, that’s what most people perceive it to be. But I don’t think when someone says it that’s what they intend to mean. It’s just that we girls, do things delicately and with such grace. It’s in our nature to be gentle that sometimes it tends to look like you’re weak. Then if you did things in a manly way and had manly features to top that – you’d be classified as a tomboy – which isn’t a good thing either.

I grew up in the 90’s. And because technology had not been fully discovered – the best we had then was Nintendo, Joy Game for the rich kids and brick games, Ending Man (a cheaper version of the Nintendo that used cartridges – 90 in 1 games, my favorite being Duck Hunt, Super Mario etc.) for the rest of us, but that was late in the 90’s. Before that, we were big on outdoor games. You know the kind that got you dirty from head to toe – the hop scotch, kati, shake, rounder’s (the own African version of baseball), bladder, scramboo (with our little BMX bikes, we could do wonders when it came to making 3600 turns). By the time you’re being called back to the house in the evening, the 1st task was to jump into the shower. I can bet all kids had that same routine, because there’s no way you were sitting on the couch with those clothes or that body.

Nintendo, Always, #LikeAGirl, Back in th Day

When we used do this outdoor games, most of them required you to display your masculine side, because they were quite aggressive and tactical. And if you throw a ball in a light or curvy manner, you’d be told, “stop throwing like a girl” or if you got hurt and you started crying, someone will do “stop crying like a girl”. If you happened to be identified as the weaker link by the other kids, you’d be placed as the “helper”. The helper was the useless person in the games – the one who’s given zero roles or attention in the course of the game because you’re team-less and you had no impact on the outcome of the game. It happened to you when the kids were selecting teams and no one wanted you on their teams because you’d make them lose. For some reason, it was always a girl or a boy who’s like a girl … been there, you feel “if only the world could open up and swallow me up” or “if only I could be invisible for a moment”.

Always be the first one to believe in yourself, even before anyone else does, because if you don’t, you might just end up disappointed or de-psyched. ~ Kawi

I know it’s tough believing in yourself – it is even for me most of the time, even when I know I’ve got it. But you don’t have much of a choice, not in this competitive world.

Now that I’m a grown up woman, I look back at my young and wild days, and I’m like, I’m glad I did everything I did #LikeAGirl. I wouldn’t do it any different given another chance because it is in my nature to do things as I do. For me to have gotten as far as I have based on what I do, I sure was doing something right, at least being a girl. So don’t let the experiences in your childhood or teenage hood define who you’ll be or what you’ll do. Just know that by being you, especially the best version of you, things will always turn out great.

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*

Irreplaceable Values in Friendships

I have been silent, guilty as charged. I’ve also felt it. It wasn’t by choice as the other areas of my life were seeking pretty much a huge chunk of my attention. The remaining 10% of which I could have stolen a chance to write, mostly in the evenings, I dozed off, watched a movie with the mister (which means, dozed off) or hosted friends over for dinner (which means, mini-party). However, I’m 100% well, which I’m thankful for, and so are the people dear to me. It feels like we should say AMEN already.

In other news, remember the What Next post. Well, I’m planning to make sure I have answers to your ‘what next’ questions about my life plans. You know things like, “when’s the wedding”. Now that we’re starting on the traditional bit, that’s some good progress. Truth be told, I never imagined that I’ll be thinking such big things (like marriage and a wedding) this soon. I smile every time I remember that we have a wedding to plan, yet I have no clue how to go about it. But that should never be a bother, we have a wealth of experience around us – to think we already have a designer and wedding planner in the family.

I remember the mister once telling me that I was the 1st girlfriend to actually take him to a wedding or traditional wedding (ruracio). Sometimes I have goldfish memory, but that one stuck in my mind. For once, when he told me (I must’ve just aww’ed then, however this is the real feeling), I felt like I have made a difference in my partner’s life. In an insignificant way to me (because to me, it was just another traditional wedding or wedding) but in a significant way to him (because to him, it’s something he’d always wanted to do but an opportunity had never presented itself). On the upside, at least he never got an old person poking him and telling him “you’re next”. Now, he has a person to point to if that questions ever comes his way.

Just before you wonder what I value in our friendrelationship, let me tell you just one before I drop down a long list. He was my first cooking and now baking buddy. He taught me how to grill (or basically use the oven) – at least I’d mastered the pan, so food-wise he was sorted out. We also baked our first cupcakes together – Google was the teacher. No pans or sufuria’s have been thrown to the other in the process so far. That’s a good thing, considering we still cooperate even when the recipes get confusing or when one thinks they can do it better than the other but figure how to accommodate each other’s expertise.

20140729-001302-782620.jpg

That got me thinking of values. Do you ever think of what value you add to the person(s) you meet or the people you spend your days with? Because what’s friendship if you don’t add some value to someone? If you don’t feed off each other? Yes, friendship is a symbiotic relationship. I usually say that if I meet someone and we hit it off, at least let us have a conversation that will somehow build each in one way or another, even if for humors sake. Like leave someone laughing their guts out or happy about themselves or what they do.

What makes someone irreplaceable is not who they are or seem to be as individuals, but the value they bring to your life, even if for the moment you interact with them.

There are people you meet and you feel like they’re sucking the life out of you, like you’re offering too much of yourself yet you’re getting nothing in return. While there are others you meet that speak life into you and the moment you part ways, you feel reenergized, and given a chance, you’d not want to let them go. What are those things you value in your friendships?

Happy Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends.

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*

What Next?

Dreaded question? It could very easily be mine.

One of those that fall under the “best and worst question”, all in the same intensity. Best when I know what’s coming next, like I have it all planned out, with the answers at my fingertips, more like a – bring it on – kind of scenario. Worst when I’m trying to figure it out. Chances are that I haven’t even given it a thought or talked about it yet because I fear the answer is “I don’t know”. I was brought up being told to never say “I don’t know”. I’d rather give you a tentative plan or an “I’ll get back to you”. I can’t recall where I picked up that habit from, and I don’t think it was not home, because I was never harassed for not knowing. Maybe school. Well, at least it helped because I never left any blank answers during exams. I’d rather cook up an answer than admit that I don’t know, then find out later what that was all about.

What Next?

What Next? Is that kind of question that’s hooked to the human DNA. We usually feel the need to ask it especially after receiving some good news. You’re never given that honeymoon period to gloat in your glory. The moment you share something exciting, the next thing is, “What Next?” I’m guilty of doing the same thing to others and even to myself. Someone just got engaged, so when’s the wedding? Someone just got married, so when’s the baby coming? Someone gets a baby, so when’s the next one? Someone gets a job, so what are you looking for next? Someone graduates, so what will you study next? Someone chops their hair, so what will you do with it next? Someone buys new shoes … ? It’s crazy, the little heaven here on earth is always so short-lived.

I got my Post-Graduate certificate … finally! It’s one thing to graduate, but it’s another to actually get a clean bill of health from the University and receive the certificate. The excitement lasted as long as the hand over.  We can measure that in seconds. As soon as I received, the question I asked myself was, what next? Then I bump into my friend and share the same news right outside the school gate and she asks me, so what next? PhD?

Graduation, MBA, Strategic Management,  Daystar University, Thesis

I told her, kids, but of course I was kidding (see what I did there). Truth be told though, I had a plan to do a PhD, I even know what it’ll be on – that was in my young and school-loving days, but today, I’m not entirely ready. The thought of lectures, assignments, evening classes, quarterly exams, dissertations – I’m just not ready for that kind of torture just yet. Unless, I’m the one on the front side of the class making other people feel that way *smirk*.

Sometimes, I wish we had the answers to all things future. That we always knew what next or even where and what you want to be? So that when someone asks you, you don’t look like you just swallowed a hot potato. It could very well be a conversation starter, a tough one though. Same thing as asking someone, what their 5 year or 10 year plan is. Now that I’ve mentioned;

What’s your 5/10 year plan? (10 if you think 5 is too shortsighted. I’ll accommodate y’all). Let’s think about it together, then individually jot it down somewhere (a permanent place that is, like a notebook, not your phone, technology is tricky  – it could crash or become obsolete. It’s a funny thing that books still live and last longer).

Then 5/10 years down the line, we’ll retrieve it and see if we’ll have gotten there. If we stuck to the same plan, changed course or well, it just didn’t work out and you did something different. Because we never give up, yes?

Have a Super-Charged Week Champs!

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*

What Are You Doing For Others?

Just imagine you’re on traffic and you want to join the next lane, but this person keeps on blocking you from joining his lane. Annoying right? Well your mind goes on an overdrive, “*throws some curse words their way* stingy blocker, they just don’t want me to prosper.” That’s what runs through your mind, no? At least that’s what we say about the people who just can’t bare seeing you ahead of them or successful.

Then, there’s this person that just paves the way for you. You indicated that you want to join his lane and he just gives you way struggle-free and life moves on. Not that you deserve it, they’re either just generally courteous or they felt that desire to momentarily put their needs aside and give you a hand in handling yours. Sometimes you’re the road hog and you think that your business is more important than the other persons’, or that you are more deserving (which means, at that moment you think they’re not).

We forget to then that reason we get through a couple of circumstances is because someone somewhere paved the way for you. Not necessarily giving you way in traffic, but that counts too. Like going out of their way to make sure that you’re sorted out if you had an issue; taking time out of their tight schedule to be there for you, it could be through a visit, a call, a text saying “hi” or simply, liking their Facebook status; finding out what disturbing your friend/acquaintance and giving them your ear even if for a moment; biting the bullet for your team-mate and walking with them through a tough situation.

This may go unnoticed. Actually, in most cases it always does, at least by the public, but it makes a humongous difference for the person directly impacted. You that feeling when the person in traffic paves way for you and you want to; get out of the car and shake his hand, or wave frantically, or give them a big “THANK YOU” shout out. Now imagine if we generated that kind of feeling in all the places we grace or the people we rub shoulders with?

Kawi Snippets, Paving The Way

Doing something for someone (small or big) without necessarily expecting recognition or a return of the favor, but just because you want to see them ease-up and smile, even if for a moment. Those are the things that keep me awake at night. Most of the time.

Happy Hump Day!

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*