Monthly Archives: July 2013



Our ratties’ breeder has just sent me some of the latest pics of our boys :mrgreen:

Without further ado, here are Moon and Knight at 24 days old:

Moon and Knight 6

One black tail and one pink one

Moon and Knight 8

Knight washing his face

Moon and Knight 11

They look so fluffy!

Notice Knight's adorable white chin

Notice Knight’s adorable white chin

Moon's beautiful blaze on display

Moon’s beautiful blaze on display

And my boys, Vodka and Mishka:

Just look at Mishka’s huge ears!

Vodka and Mishka 7

Such beautiful silvery brothers

Vodka’s little pink mouth

Vodka and Mishka 11

One look and all resistance crumbles

Vodka and Mishka 16

Curious cuties

Now the countdown really begins… just over a month left until we meet these sweeties 😀

Two thoughts


‘But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles…’ ~ Isaiah 40:31

Have you ever been somewhere in public and been convinced that all eyes were on you, only to look up and discover that, in fact, not a single person was looking your way?

Welcome to my life.

For the longest time, my life has been dominated by low self-esteem and a gnawing concern that there’s some lofty standard I’m not meeting, some ideal I’m not reaching – and that the world is daily watching me fail at it.

What the heck, right? I mean, my rational mind knows that that’s just silly. I am a blessed, beautiful, healthy and smart woman. I have so much going for me. I have a side that is full of zest and light and joy. I am normal and balanced and sane and all that.

And yet.

And yet there’s always been the lurking suspicion that I don’t measure up. I’ve felt clumsy all my life, as though I’m not at home in my skin. Put me in any situation, and I’ll be sure to drop something or bump something or do something wrong; I’ll be the one blushing for no reason, saying the wrong thing, and constantly feeling like I’m out of my depth.

My expectations are stratospheric, so there’s no possible way I can succeed. In fact, I’m pretty sure that not even God’s standards for me are as high as the ones I set for myself! He gives grace, but I’m merciless towards myself (and unfortunately, often towards others too).

But I digress.

What I wanted to share with you today were two thoughts that I’ve had on this topic. Two thoughts that have become two principles for me to live by as I actively try to challenge my ridiculous self-concept and worldview.

First thought: No one is watching you.

No one. No one is watching you. The other diners in the restaurant, your colleagues in the office, the strangers in the mall and the other drivers on the roads – not one of them is watching you. Don’t flatter yourself, Zest. No one has the time or inclination to watch your every move. They are all too busy with their own lives, focused on their own highs and lows.

I (and dare I say, we?) pass up so many spontaneous opportunities for fun because our first thought is, ‘What will other people think of me?’ We can become so wrapped up in others’ opinions of us, without stopping to check a) whether those opinions even exist and b) if they do, whether they’re even valid.

Sometimes this can also lead us to do things we don’t actually want to do, but that we believe others expect us to do. Such as losing weight. Or buying the latest goods. Or having kids. Or taking drugs. Or getting into negative relationships. If your self-esteem is low and you think it can be remedied by pleasing other people, you’re headed down a path of empty striving and pain.

But what of those times when you do look up and happen to catch someone watching? Or what if it’s someone whose opinion does carry weight with you? Well, then be sure to live in such a way that whoever is watching is learning something good from you 🙂

For myself at least, I know that this issue is linked to pride and a fear of man, both of which the Bible warns against. If I am going to change the way I think of myself and of others, I will have to confess these man-centred sins and ask the Lord to put my focus back on what does matter.

Which brings me to my second thought: Someone is watching you.

Someone, the only One who matters, is watching you. And me. And every person on this planet.

Years ago an unsaved friend boasted to me of a late-night tryst with her boyfriend that had taken place ‘where no one could see’. I remember cringing at her boldness, thinking, ‘But you’re wrong… Someone could see!’ She thought she had gotten away with a daring sin in the darkness, not considering that the blazing eyes of the Most High God had witnessed everything.

If we are going to live without concern for others’ opinions of us, it must be balanced with a healthy respect for God’s opinion of us. The Bible tells us that ‘The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good’ (Prov 15:3). We have it all wrong when we’re more concerned about unflattering human opinions rather than our standing before God.

But of course none of us can stand before God as we are. He is too holy and we are too lowly! That’s why we need Jesus Christ as our mediator. He took our rightful punishment so now the idea of God watching us brings peace instead of fear to those of us who are saved.

I believe that if I can practise these two principles – letting go of what I think people think of me, and clinging to a biblical view of how God sees me through Christ – I will have the perfect practical remedy for my low self-esteem and silly self-consciousness.

What a freeing way to live! :mrgreen:

Christmas in July Part 2


The Christmas in July gifts for me and Flea finally arrived in the post! I raced home from the post office to unwrap the box… with Flea’s help 😉

Our Secret Santa (SS) was very generous!!!

Christmas in July 2013

Christmas in July 2013

Inside the box we found…

  • two small boxes (a pink one and a blue one, for Flea and the new boys respectively) filled with all manner of tasty ratty treats: mini Marie biscuits, choc-coated sunflower seeds, yoghurt drops and rooibos biscuits
  • three cute rat-themed decals
  • the Ratatouille movie DVD (which we’ve never watched before, shame on us!)
  • a fleecy tunnel for the rat cage
  • and a stunning necklace for me!
Flea tastes her first-ever yogi

Flea tastes her first-ever yogi

My gorgeous new necklace

My gorgeous new necklace

Rat treats in a jar with a ratty decal

Rat treats in a jar with a ratty decal

That was the best fun I’ve had in the middle of winter in a long time :mrgreen:

Count me in for next year’s one!

Christmas in July


Our lovely South African rat club has organised a ‘Christmas in July’ gift swap for rat lovers across South Africa. This is the first year I’ve taken part, and it’s been a lot of fun. So far I have posted off my gift box to my Secret Santa (SS), and am waiting eagerly to receive the one destined for me :mrgreen:

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the gifts I got for my SS… my choices were obviously based on her preferences…

Xmas in July 1

Ratty Christmas card and rat/cat beanie

Xmas in July 2

Ratty crackers (filled with banana chips), choc-covered sunflower seeds, mouse-themed notepad and giraffe fridge magnet

Xmas in July 4

Giraffe pic, bunny keychain, Wine Gums, purple-and-grey phone charm, coin purse and facecloth

I love giving and receiving gifts, so an idea like this is perfect for me 🙂 Can’t wait to see what my SS comes up with for my parcel!

Cat that got the cream


Last weekend Ninja and I took a little road trip with my parents to celebrate my dad’s birthday. We stopped for brunch at a sweet restaurant in an interesting nursery, where I caught this resident cat enjoying breakfast on a nearby vacated table.

Cat and cream 1

There’s just something compelling about the self-contained, quiet contentment of a cat caught in a moment like this.

Cat and cream 2

I loved the leisurely way he repeatedly inserted a paw into the cream jug, lifted it out and slowly licked off the thick cream. When I stopped to take pictures, he turned his unhurried gaze on me for a moment and then simply resumed his dining.

Cat and cream 3

Cats are truly incomparable creatures. Imagine for a moment that it had been a dog who’d sniffed out the cream. The jug would’ve been knocked to the floor through joyful enthusiasm and the cream would be all over his muzzle before you could yell ‘Down, boy!’

But a cat is never that uncouth. He just silently claims the cream as his rightful treat, and indulges so sumptuously and yet so neatly, that not a drop is spilled nor a whisker out of place when he is done.

Ah, now we see!


The baby ratties‘ eyes opened this past week! I told you they just get cuter by the day… :mrgreen:

This is what their breeder had to say about them at this age:

Now with their eyes open they start to explore their cage a little bit. This gives their poor moms a hard time as they still want to keep the babies bundled in the nest; while she is collecting the babies one at a time to carry back to the nest, the ones she has packed back in are passing her on their way out to continue exploring!

Hahaha! 😀

Of course you’ll want to see pictures. But first, I must publish a quick erratum: Ninja told me that his black Berkie isn’t Night – his name is Knight. OK. So now we know 😉

And now for the pics!

Here are Knight (in front) and Moon at 15 days old.

Moon and Knight 1

Their little eyes aren’t fully opened yet, which makes them look adorably sleepy!

Moon and Knight 2

Here you can see Moon’s beautiful blaze. I also like his gentle expression. But it looks like he can be playful too!

Moon and Knight 3

I love how ratties always need to be close to other ratties 🙂

Moon and Knight 4

And here are my boys, also at 15 days of age. Say hello to Mishka and Vodka:

Vodka and Mishka 1

You can see Mishka’s big round dumbo ears quite clearly in some of these pics. Here he is striking a pose…

Vodka and Mishka 2

Don’t these ratties just look so clean and shiny? 🙂 And that beautiful grey-blue colouring goes well with the snowy white for a truly Russian-themed pair!

Vodka and Mishka 5

It’s an overload of cuteness and I am so excited to meet them! They look infinitely cuddly 😛

Vodka and Mishka 4

It’s amazing to think that only two short weeks ago, these little guys were helpless, hairless pinkies. Ratties’ lives are so short, so I’m glad to enjoy each stage of their development.

Our old girl Flea is getting noticeably older now. She’s our first ratty to survive into old age with us, so it’s a new experience. While it’s always sad to see the slow decline of an animal that you’ve loved, there are positive sides to her ageing too. The best part is how much she asks for affection and wants to be close to us. She was never a ‘lap ratty’ until her op and of course the loss of her sister, but since then she spends much longer with us outside the cage before showing signs she wants to go back.

We are doing all we can to keep her warm, loved and well-fed, and we hope she’ll keep going strong to see her 2nd birthday at the end of August and the arrival of the new boys a few weeks later.

Precious old girl

Precious old girl

Booking the boys


Sorry to keep you waiting… but here they are: pics of the baby boys at 10 days old!

If you thought the pinkies were cute and the parents were pretty, you’ll love these fuzzies.

Boys from Litter 1

Boys from Litter 1

Those were the males born to Count Fleet and Salvia. And these little guys are the boys from Salix and Juniper:

Boys from Litter 2

Boys from Litter 2

Such silky babies! I’d take them all home if I could 😉 But of course Ninja and I had to pick just two each…

My choice was easy. I’d been hoping for at least one dumbo-eared boy and one Russian Blue or Russian Silver boy. So I immediately booked the two Russian Blue brothers from Litter 1, one of which is dumbo eared! 😀

My boys

My boys

Ninja’s choice was just as instant: he picked the black Berkshire and one of the lightning-blazed boys from Litter 2:

Ninja's boys

Ninja’s boys

Squeeeeeee! 🙂

And of course we’ve already picked out names for them. Since mine are Russian Blue rats, I wanted Russian names… so the standard-eared boy is going to be Vodka and the dumbo will be Mishka (meaning ‘little bear’ or ‘teddy bear’ in Russian). Mishka is my first ratty to break away from my usual choice of ‘foodie’ names for my rats (Muesli, Coffee, Vodka), but I like the way it works with Vodka.

Ninja immediately dubbed his boys Night (the black Berkshire) and Moon (the blazed boy; if you look closely you can see a sickle-moon shape in the white blaze on his head). I did warn Ninja, though, that I’ll probably end up taking liberties with those names, because I find two-syllabled pet names are easier to call out.

But anyway, are these guys nunu or what? :mrgreen:

Meet the parents…


As you may have guessed, our new rats are not just ‘any old rodents’ :mrgreen:

They’re Wheatfields bubs, sourced from one of the best-loved pedigreed-rat breeders in South Africa. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Among the members of our lively South African rat club, Wheatfields Rattery is known for raising beautiful, healthy and exceptionally well-socialised fancy rats. Everyone speaks fondly of their ‘WF kids’. Our first male pet rats, Scribble and Muesli, were Wheatfields boys too.

So it’s with that as a backdrop that I present to you the parents of our new furballs… *drumroll please*

Litter 1

This beautiful boy is Count Fleet, dad to the kittens of Litter 1. He’s a handsome black roan badger husky, with those huge dumbo ears that I’ve been longing to see in in a rat of my own 🙂

WF Count Fleet

WF Count Fleet

Count Fleet was mated to this gentle-looking Russian Blue striped roan girl, who has standard ears. Her name is Salvia, and isn’t she stunning? I’m a big fan of that soft silvery-blue colouring.

WF Salvia

Litter 2

You’d be forgiven for thinking it, but no, this isn’t our current girl Flea!

Meet Salix, the father of Litter 2. He’s a fine glossy black Berkshire gentleman with standard ears, and apparently a lovely personality to match.

WF Salix

WF Salix

And last but not least, this pretty lass is Juniper. She’s a black striped roan, also with standard ears, and mom to the bubs of Litter 2. That little round tummy of hers is just begging to be kissed! 😉

WF Juniper

WF Juniper

With such a varied lineage it was anyone’s guess as to what would turn up in the litters, but when we saw the resulting boys, we were smitten…

Stay tuned for the next installment: choosing and booking the boys! 😀



Exciting news, everyone! I recently heard from the breeder that the litters of new fancy rats we’ve been expecting were born on the 4th of July! (That should appeal to my American friends, though it’s not a significant date here in South Africa.) 🙂

Anyway, here are the pics of the boys from each litter – helpless and hairless and utterly gorgeous – at two days of age:

Boys from Litter 1

Baby rats at this stage are called pinkies, and you can see why. But they’re not always pink. The boys from Litter 2 were already very dark at two days old, showing how dark they’ll be when they get their fur:

Boys from Litter 2

Boys from Litter 2

Aren’t they adorable? :mrgreen:

OK, I know you can’t tell much from these pics. While pinkies are sweet in their own right, there’s even more cuteness to be had as they grow 🙂

Next up: the fuzzy stage. But first let me introduce you to the parents…

Oriental pie with chutney, avo and banana


I’m probably doing this all wrong, posting a hearty winter dinner recipe when most of you are enjoying a long-awaited summer. But deliciousness must be shared, no matter the season! You could always bookmark it for wintertime in your hemisphere 😉

Oriental pie with chutney, avo and banana

Oriental pie with chutney, avo and banana

Oriental pie filling

1 onion, chopped (or 2 T dried chives)

1 T oil

1 t curry powder, heaped

½ t ground ginger, heaped

1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)

±350 g mince

1 bay leaf

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

¼ C vinegar

30 ml brown sugar

Salt and pepper


1. Fry onions/chives in oil.

2. Add curry, ginger, garlic and mince. Fry until mince browns.

3.  Add rest of ingredients. Cook on medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.

4.  Place in a casserole dish. Prepare the topping.

Oriental pie is delicious served on a bed of brown rice

Oriental pie is delicious served on a bed of brown rice

Oriental pie topping

1½ C flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

1 t curry powder, heaped

40 g butter

1 onion, grated (or 1 T dried chives)

1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)

1 egg, beaten

½ C water

Ingredients for the topping

Ingredients for the topping


1. Sift dry ingredients together.

2. Rub in butter.

3. Add onion/chives and garlic.

4. Mix egg with water and add to mixture.

5. Mix well. Spoon over oriental pie filling.

6.  Bake at 180 °C for 30 min.

A warm and spicy winter dinner

A warm and spicy winter dinner


  • I’m not sure of the origins of this recipe; I suspect it was a Cape Malay dish, but my version comes from my mom.
  • As you can see, I’ve used dried chives because Ninja and I are allergic to onion and garlic.
  • You could make this dish as mild or as spicy as you like by varying the flavours to taste.
  • I always enjoy curried dishes with avocado, banana and fruit chutney on the side. We use the South African classic, Mrs Ball’s Peach Chutney – loved by South Africans and imported by expats everywhere!
Oriental pie

Oriental pie