A favorite photo from earlier this month. (Supplies: pictures + words no. 16 by Paislee Press)

I’m going to be away on the 15th this month for a weekend at one of my most favourite places in Lesotho – Maliba Lodge – celebrating my birthday with some of my favourite people so I’m writing this a bit early and posting it on my actual birthday. On to the list:

Watching: “How To Get Away with Murder.” I binged on the first five episodes and now I’m stuck waiting week to week to find out what happens. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a show week to week and the suspense is killing me!

Anticipating: My trip to Hong Kong and Beijing starting a week from tomorrow. This is going to be my first time in Asia and then I will only have the continents of Australia and Antarctica left on my 17 Before 2017 list. I’m excited to see my youngest sister, Lou and her husband Sebastian in Hong Kong; that friends I know from Lesotho are coming from Shanghai to sightsee together in Beijing and to be doing the whole trip together with a new friend.

Listening: To music on Spotify after a discussion with a friend last month. I’m still of the mindset that I want to OWN the music that I pay money for. I recognise, though, that this is largely outdated with the advent of Spotify, Pandora, etc. My friends’ argument was that she would be spending more than $10 a month on music so Spotify actually saves her money. As a result I decided to give it a try for a few months to see if I really do get $10 worth of entertainment from it. I’m still figuring out how to have the best listening experience. It’s hard to compete with my finely honed and well curated collection in iTunes …

Reading: The third book of the “Maze Runner” trilogy. I’m a sucker for post-apocolyptic young adults fiction, and these books have held up after getting excited about them from watching the movie. I also have quite a few books waiting to be read on my Kindle including the final book of the “Grave Mercy” series, the latest Louise Penny novel featuring Inspector Gamache and a few books I found from the Goodreads end of year voting.

Eating: Mexican quinoa – a recipe I found on Pinterest and actually followed through to make. It’s delicious. I want to eat it for every meal.

Working On: The usual work stuff, but with the end of the year quickly approaching it seems deadlines keep popping up. Lots to get done between now and mid-December when things die down significantly.

Loving: (I’ve decided to change “Wanting” to “Loving” since I want for so little.) Summer in Lesotho. It’s been raining a bunch here, but when it’s not raining the landscape is turning technicolor green. All the more reason to be looking forward to Maliba this weekend. This is my favourite time of year.

Playing: A rousing round of Settlers of Catan with colleagues last week. When I play Settlers it reminds me that I don’t play often enough, even if I never win. What a great game. I’m also packing Bohnanza and Cranium for this weekend.

Sunset from the Lesotho Sun yesterday.

Sunset from the Lesotho Sun yesterday.

I try to write these around the middle of the month, but now I’m almost a week late and I realized today that October is basically finished at this point. I have no idea how that happened … On to my ramblings. Right now I am:

Watching: Four movies during my 10 day trip to South Africa. Phew! The movies I saw were: Gone Girl (we talked about this for HOURS after watching it), Maze Runner, This Is Where I Leave You and If I Stay.

Anticipating: Life as usual for the time being. The weather is warming up, weekend plans are being made weeks in advance and I am generally content with life.

Listening/Reading: The Golden Hour by Todd Moss. Fiction, but it involves a coup in an African country and a kidnapped Peace Corps Volunteer so how could I not enjoy it? Next on my reading list is the Maze Runner trilogy. Loved the movie, now must read the books!

Eating: Delicious food in the Cape Town area. I attended a work meeting in Franschoek last week and then stuck around for the weekend with girlfriends. A one-word description of our food and wine consumption? Gorged.

Working On: Catching up on work. Franschoek is gorgeous, but the hotel internet was horrendous so between that the extended weekends on either side of the meeting my inbox is pretty overwhelming at the moment.

Wanting: To get over my creative slump. I haven’t scrapbooked outside of my GIS CT assignments in AGES. I like to think that I’m living life and creating stories that I’ll document in the future and not putting too much pressure on myself to get over the slump.

Playing: Nothing right now. Just one of those gaming slumps, too, I guess.

This month the Get It Scrapped Creative Team is channeling Corrie Jones – a frequent contributor to Masterful Scrapbook Design. A few months ago I “channeled” Emily Pitts, but I was less familiar with Corrie’s work so this was a fun challenge. Here’s my page:

Right Now by Heather Awsumb | August Storyteller kit by Just Jaimee; Haunted Woods Solid Paper Pack, Artsy Layered Paints No 1, Away We Go Element Pack by Katie Pertiet; Forever Young, Day Tripper, Hopscotch by One Little Bird; Shadow Styles by Mommyish

Right Now by Heather Awsumb | August Storyteller kit by Just Jaimee; Haunted Woods Solid Paper Pack, Artsy Layered Paints No 1, Away We Go Element Pack by Katie Pertiet; Forever Young, Day Tripper, Hopscotch by One Little Bird; Shadow Styles by Mommyish

Some things that I noted from the inspiration about Corrie’s pages that I tried to replicate on my page:

1) the use of white/neutral background paper. This wasn’t difficult since kraft or white backgrounds are my go-to backgrounds.

2) using paint and layering to ground her pages. I used paint elements with layered patterned paper to replicate a similar look in digital.

3) white frames around her photos. I used the frame style by Mommyish, one of my favorites.

4) the use of scatters to add energy to the page. I can’t “scatter” for my life, but the August Storyteller kit by Just Jaimee had a really cute scatter element that I used instead.

I listened to the radio a lot while in S. Africa while driving my rental car. I don’t normally listen to the radio because 1) the FM bands on the radio in my car don’t go high enough and 2) I most commonly listen to books when driving to and from work. At first I found listening to the radio to be incredibly obnoxious because you have to listen to all the talking and the advertisements and songs that you don’t like … You get the picture. In the end, though, I did end up downloading a few songs that I heard

This one is number one on the S. Africa iTunes charts right now:

and this is just fun …

I loved another song by John Newman this year, so a collab with Calvin Harris was a must download

and I heard this so much that it’s just flat out stuck in my head now

Spring flowers in Pretoria last week.

Spring flowers in Pretoria last week.

Watching: Older movies on Netflix like Good Morning Vietnam, Shakespeare in Love and Ever After.

Anticipating: Continuing stalemate in Lesotho amongst the political parties with underlying tension thanks to the military commander who refuses to step down. As I write this the latest news is that elections will be moved up from 2017 to a yet to be decided but presumably near future date. This Tweet in response to that news, though, hits the nail on the head I think:

Listening/Reading: I have a backlog of books on my Kindle to read, plus an audiobook from the SL County Public Library System but I’m not actively reading any of them. Must get back on track.

Eating: Sushi. I ate SO MUCH sushi while staying in S. Africa. Yum.

Working On: Catching up on life. Saying no.

Wanting: To get back into my normal routines after being in S. Africa for the last two weeks. I have to leave the country again this weekend, but just knowing I can be in “my life” before and after makes me feel better.

Playing: Nothing recently. I had started playing Plague, Inc. again but then got distracted by the ongoings in Lesotho.

dog's diary (1)

Ha ha ha. Long time Smith family joke :)

7 random thoughts 7 days in to my “captivity” in Pretoria:

  1. I would describe the current situation in Lesotho as stable but unpredictable. There are still a lot of factors in play that have the potential to take things down hill very quickly.
  2. Over the weekend the military commander behind the “coup” that ignited this all reportedly stole weapons and is hiding in the mountains. The (supposed to be current) commander says military action is the “only option” to resolve the situation.
  3. Doesn’t the statement “rogue military commander hiding in the mountains” sound like something you’d read about in Afghanistan or some other notoriously war-torn country? It’s certainly not something I ever thought I’d say about Lesotho.
  4. The big news tomorrow is that Pres. Zuma of South Africa is coming to Lesotho since word on the street is that the PM is backing out of his agreement to reopen parliament.
  5. The Deputy Prime Minister also has a trial related to the charges against him for corruption scheduled for tomorrow. No word yet that it’s been canceled. Considering the measures he has gone to already to avoid those charges it seems like a potentially sensitive milestone.
  6. On a happier note I am thankful for beer festivals, spas and friends that helped pass the time over the weekend.
  7. Also, I have had sushi for dinner 6 times since I arrived and McD’s only once (sushi I can get delivered straight to my hotel room). Lunch has been more varied.


I spent all day Tuesday making arrangements for the expatriates on my team to leave Lesotho and ensuring procedures are in place to protect the safety of our host country national staff staying in Lesotho. It was surreal to drive around the city and see everyone going about their day as usual while we were making plans to leave. Then I remembered how loud the gunfire was Monday night (According to AFP it was automatic weapon fire at the Police Training College, which is across a small pond from my house), saw the increased LDF presence at the airbase near our office and noticed the lack of police around town. So although people were going on with their lives it was definitely not all business as usual.

For the last two mornings I’ve woken up in a hotel room in Pretoria, South Africa and will be working from here until this blows over. If Lesotho is a 3-star hotel – comfortable but not luxurious – then Pretoria is a 5-star resort. (Even if I don’t have a private bathroom or walk-in closet in the office ;)) Thankfully I have people on my team who are still in Lesotho to give me updates and everyone there remains safe. Regardless of how comfortable it is here, though, I am itching to get back home.

The good news is that there have been improvements in the last 24-48 hours including the police have going back to work, and the PM returning to the country (albeit guarded by the South African Police Service (SAPS)). That said, there are big questions that still need to be answered like: what’s happening with the military commander who refuses to step down? (<< Seriously, read that link.) What happens when SAPS are no longer guarding the PM and Police Commissioner? And when will the US Embassy go back to business as usual?

I hope that the answers to these questions get answered quickly and that everyone can get back to their lives in Lesotho.


Then the Lesotho Times releases four pretty damning stories and I see my life in Pretoria stretching out for the near future …

Metsing behind coup attempt: ‘Maseribane

Thabane to dissolve parliament

Tšooana implicates Metsing in army attack

Kamoli must surrender: New army boss


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