Friday, 25 July 2014

BeHappy made me happy!

Back in January, I bought a set of McWalkies West highland terriers from BeHappy. I have always wanted this family, but they are not that easy to get hold of anymore and I was struggling to find a good, complete set on Ebay. 

But, this was during my "Bad Sylvanian Luck" spree and I got a set with a little bit of a flaw... 

Do you see it?

How about now?

Yes, poor Hamish McWalkie had a wonky arm out of the box. :(
The poor little guy was fitted with two right hands at the Sylvanian Factory! O_O
I was a bit shocked and contacted the shop where I bought him, to see if they could swap him out for another, or perhaps help me in any way... Honestly, I didn't really think that they would be able to do much, but at least I got an email of apology and an answer that they would see what they could do for me.

After some time, I forgot about little Hamish, standing so shyly behind his father. Soon the time came for another order from BeHappy. ~ I just can't stay away from that shop!!! ~
Some things for me and some for a friend added to the cart, checked out and away they went, shipped off as speedily as always.

This morning I received the parcel in the mail and to my surprise little Hamish was added to it in a little plastic baggie with a note! BeHappy actually replaced my whole figure with a brand new one with both arms in place!

The family is now proudly displayed with all members standing tall. 

Thanks for the excellent service! 
BeHappy is still one of my very favorite Sylvanian Families shops of all time!!! 
And yes, I am happy. :D

NOU gaan ons BRAAI!

In true South African tradition, the weekend is cause for a bit of a celebration. After all, it was a long week! So, as today is Friday, I would just like to say: "Nou gaan ons braai!"

The literal translation, according to Google that is, goes something like this: "Now we are going to fry." Of course this is not exactly correct, but you get the general idea. :)

Wikipedia has an excellent explanation of the South African braai culture and I would like to share some of this with you.

Traditionally, South Africans braai. We love to braai. We will think up any excuse... to braai! We even have special braai recipe books and each family has their own version of trusty side dishes, marinades, spices and braaivleis.

What is a braai, you may ask?
Well, it is sort of like a BBQ, but not quite. Usually we braai in the summer months, but if we are lucky enough to have any form of sheltered veranda available outside, we will even braai in the winter months. A braai is also traditionally done on either charcoal briquettes or wood, but a lot of people also have gas braais because it saves a little preparation time in getting the braai ready.

So, what do we braai?
Meat of course! The main idea of the braai is to put the meat on the center stage as the main dish of the day. It is also  not strange to see a combination of different meat, such as T-bone steak, kebabs (we call them sosaties), and sausage (wors). Usually the meat is the husband's domain and there can usually only be one designated "braaier". The golden unspoken rule also states that you NEVER interfere with the braaier's duties, but if you have to  help, you can fill up his drink and fetch the spices from the kitchen. :)

Do you only eat meat at a braai?!
Umm... Sometimes. :) But, that is usually only if the men are left to fend for themselves! If for some reason, a man is left on his own to feed himself and / or his children, he will braai... Most of the time.
However, if it is a more structured and planned out braai, (Planned out - Husband gets home from work and announces: Tonight, we braai!) the meat will usually be accompanied by some side dishes. Side dishes include various salads, braai broodjies (Toasted cheese, onion and tomato sandwiches) and pap (maize porridge) with fried tomato and onion sauce.

Anything else that we should know about a braai?
This covers the basics of the age old South African braai tradition. It is really great fun and is one of the only social events that keep popping up on most South Africans' calendars. You can braai on any occasion from birthdays to Christmas and everything in-between, which makes it the most common social interaction in this lovely country of ours.

So, anyone up for a braai?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Small Miracles happen in post offices

In March of this year, I did a trade with a Sylvanian-forum friend of mine, for a family and item that I have wanted for a very long time...

As is usually my case whenever luck is involved, the trade went smoothly up to the point where the parcel had to cross the big blue ocean to reach me here in my little kingdom in South Africa. Now, we are definitely not known for our effective postal service, but very few things actually ever really go missing if you keep a good eye out. Sure the post office has "misplaced" some of my parcels before, some were re-numbered and stored in the back for "safekeeping" (conveniently forgetting to notify me of their arrival at the same time) and some have even been opened and relieved of some of the contents somewhere along the line, but these tings aside, our post office delivers most of the time. They are so efficient that they even deliver your outgoing parcels back to you sometimes! ~ Yip, this has really happened before... ~

So, with the spotty track record that is the SA postal service, I was starting to feel a bit anxious when my parcel from March was still nowhere to be found two months later... With a bit of positive thinking and a lot of patience, the parcel still was still not here after three months and I was starting to lose hope that it would ever reach me.

I had nightmares about my poor Sylvanian Families being lost at sea, thrown into the sea during a huge storm and washing out on some remote island, never to see a friendly smile again! ~ Yes, this is the kind of thing that I think of when I can't sleep at night. ~

Of course the feeling of utter helplessness set in and I started to silently mourn the passing of my dearly beloved Sylvanian Families from so very far away.

But, luck was on my side and my mother surprised me with an unexpected parcel! She had found the collection slip in our postbox and decided to collect the parcel for me. It was BIG, and it seemed to consist of a recycled box (YAY for recycling - So glad to see that I am not the only one who uses boxes until they crumple away and die from old age!), a black bag, copious amounts of packaging tape, brown paper - lots and lots of brown paper and Waaay too much SA Post Office inspection tape, adding to this parcel's curiosity!

I was warned beforehand that the parcel had "ridiculous packaging", but it seems that somewhere along the line, the box was opened and re-packaged with brown paper and SAPO inspection tape. Cutting through the packaging to finally get to the box and the contents inside, was very much like excavating an age old archaeological site... Glorious!

Leatherman in hand, I worked the packaging tape away slow and steadily, ever mindful of wayward spiders and other creepy-crawlies that might have hitched a ride into my home... And inside, I found: HAPPINESS!!!!!

I am now the proud owner of a brand new Sylvanian Families Ambulance! The Pettyfur Guinea pig family have safely made their way to Rooibosch Hill and I have received a very big surprise with my parcel. ~No, not a spider of any kind!~

Peter and Belinda Brighteyes and doctor Murdoch were waiting for me inside the parcel, sitting quietly in the corner while I did my happy dance and cooed over the ambulance and the Pettyfurs. It was a weekend of family reunions and lots of playing and posing little flocked figures. Isn't it great how such small little things can sometimes take your mind off of the troubles of real life and let you feel so refreshed and ready to tackle the world again afterwards?

Thank you SO MUCH for the lovely surprises, Nicky! You are awesome and you made my day after such a rough week!!! 

Thomas Nightingale driving Rooibosch's new ambulance!

The side panel opens to reveal the inside of the ambulance. This set has LOTS of little medical accessories, including a drip, oxygen mask and many tiny little medicine bottles and boxes.

Thomas is very pleased with his new wheels! I just love the little bell so much. 

The number plate on this ambulance is Rescue, with a 3 substituting the "E" - Very fitting!

The doors open and hitch so that they don't keep closing when you play. There is also a ramp that slides out, allowing the gurney to be pushed into the ambulance.

Inside the ambulance is a fold-down seat for a paramedic to ride with the injured critter.

The gurney is big enough to accommodate an adult sized critter and the blanket folds over to cover them pretty well without being in the way of the wheels. Inside the ambulance, you can see drawers and sliding doors that provide ample storage space for all the little bits and pieces.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Bears, bears and more bears!

I have recently been browsing Ebay and came upon an interesting auction. It was listed under teddy bears and had the very descriptive title "1895 Sylvanian Family"... 

While on the subject, I used to hate it when Ebay sellers would post a MIB (Mint in Box) Vintage 1985 Sylvanian Families item straight from the current line of Sylvanians. As collectors would know, all Sylvanian Families have a little white sticker on their feet with the date "1985". Older TOMY items have gold stickers, but that is about as much information as the stickers on the feet of Sylvanian critters can give. But, in the past year I have managed to find a few good 1985 Sylvanian auctions for some really nice items. 

Apart from the title not divulging much information about the actual item, the seller's photo was taken in bad light. Again, this happens and is just something that you have to live with. The description, however, was the selling point for me:

"1985 Grandfather Gray bear, box has tear down front plastic and is a tad worn but figure has not been removed. Comes with glasses and walking stick." 

So, obviously this is an Evergreen grandfather, right? Umm, not quite...

Upon dragging the photo into Photoshop and making it a bit lighter, I realized that this figure was actually a very scarce Huntington bear grandfather! @_@
Since I don't have any Huntingtons in my collection yet, and the seller had 100% positive feedback, I decided to place my bid and hope for the best.

As luck would have it though, I missed out on all three auctions that I was bidding on, including the scary interesting Pigglywink family and their babies because I have been without internet this whole weekend - That's telephone lines in South Africa for you... just go with it. :(
But, when I finally managed to get a few moments of stable, yet weak internet connection, I was ecstatic to find that this little guy will soon be coming over to live in Rooibosch Hill! I got him for a very good price, but the shipping is extremely high for a single figure with the struggling Rand/Pound exchange rate.
I don't care though, my first ever Huntington bear will soon be home and I can't wait to meet him. 

A little information on the Huntingtons:

The Huntington bears were released in the 1980's.They were originally also known as the Honey-bear family, and the family was available through the TOMY token scheme along with the Chestnut raccoons. They were originally in the big bear mold, but in 2009, they were re-released in the new smaller bear mold as the Honey-bear family, now including the beekeeper uncle.

The Huntington bear family is quite rare, but the grandparents are much rarer because they were only sold in the US as opposed to the family that was sold in many locations. I have heard that grandfather Humbert is more difficult to find than grandmother Hannah, so I am very glad to be able to start my Huntington family with him.