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Latest and Greatest Reads from PanMacmillan South Africa…

December 16th, 2017 · No Comments

This is the time of year when all the beautiful gift books are published and this year is no exception. There is a pile of lovely lovely giftable reads that we have been reading our way through, so that we could share them with you. We are working our way up from books for the smallest to the tallest of readers…

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This is an eclectic mix of what we have been reading lately… big books little books, fact books and fun books… there really is something for everyone in this pile of books…

A Fantastic Family Read



Norse Myths, Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland and illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love: We are reading this book together as a family and it is fantastic. This has to be our book of the year it is truly a work of art. Can I say I know that my middle school boys, who are intrigued by all things to do with Norse Myths, have snuck off and read ahead. This book is a large format hard back book, very much of the coffee table variety… and the illustrations are superb and absolutely make the book. I love that they begin the book with a great description of who is who in the world of Norse Myths… not all of us have grown up with a background in Norse-mythology… clearly my children have because they know all about the characters long before I get there. This book is a work of art from the get go… from the runes in the end covers to the twisting winding illustrations that bring these ancient myths to life.

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Let’s begin with the main players Odin, the ruler of the Gods and know as the all-father; then there is Thor, the god of thunder; and finally Loki, the trickster, who stirs things up in the Norse World, like nobody else could even imagine. The book is packed with other gods, dwarfs and of course giants. North mythology takes place in nine worlds all linked together by a great ash tree… and the stories wind in and out of each world. Of course like all mythology there is good and bad, there folk that play fair and others that never will. What we love about this collection of stories is that they stories are new to us, we have no idea where each story is going and we have to read on to find out. Not only that but the characters have their faults, along with incredible strengths, they have incredible failings… there is a lot of each of us between the pages of this book. Not to mention if you are planning on making a rainbow book case, it is often hard to find a fine yellow book… this beautiful book fits perfectly into that category!!!

Poetry for Everyone



I’m Just no Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris and Illustrated by Lane Smith: Let’s begin by saying we are huge fans of Lane Smith, and as soon as I see a book illustrated by him I know that we are going to love it. The illustrations in this book are totally, totally wacky… and just the creative license to illustrate with words… it is delightful. His work full of surprises, seeing things form a different perspective to the rest of the world… and so creating a page turner, you can’t wait to see what is on the next page.
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Apart from that the poetry… is engaging, hilarious and just slightly outrageous. you will read poems in this book the will leave you pondering life, and laughing out loud… Poems like: The Good-Child Test, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, Chocolate for Breakfast (it’s not chocolate it is chico-early!!!) and what about: Somebody Stole my Bagel’s Hole. This book is packed with funny quirky, expressive and most importantly shareable poems that we have loved… this is our poetry book of the year and if you wold like your kids to engage in poetry in a playful way, rather than a truly schoolish way, then this is the book for you… Our whole family loves it. We have enjoyed it together at the kitchen table. And as it lies on the coffee table, so it gets enjoyed again and again, by folk of all ages… stopping by and dipping in.

A Brilliant Board Book


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My Big Book of South African Animals by Roger Priddy: Finally we have a board book for South African children, featuring local animals. This is a large format chunky book, packed with dozens of beautifully photographed animals presented on brightly coloured pages… just what you would expect from a Priddy book. As well as the usual culprits you would find in an animal book, you will also find some lesser spotter South African varieties… there is an ostrich, a kudu, a duiker and nyala, sun fish and a cape vulture, to name a few.
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Your tiny animal lover will love this book, the crystal clear photographs, the naming of names and such like. I firmly believe children need to experience things that they encounter in their own world, and so many great books for small children that are published overseas do not have any of our local animals… English woodland creatures and Amazon jungle wildlife is great, but here is something with animals a local child will encounter whether they live at the coast or further inland. This book is a winner for us.

Seasonal Colouring



The Nutcracker, A Colouring Book from PanMacmillan: A beautiful colouring book that the whole family will enjoy. It is based on the classic story by E.T.A Hoffmann, and you don’t have to be a ballerina to enjoy it… the pictures are beautiful and there is something for everyone to enjoy and colour in… pages of beautiful presents, candy canes and christmas trees…
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The cover is delightfully Christmassy with red and gold embossed highlights. This book is extremely giftable for folk of all ages who love the story, and folk of all ages that love colouring.

A Fine Chapter Book



Nevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend and illustrated by Beatriz Castro: This book arrives with the tag: “Highly Acclaimed” pretty much embossed on the cover. It was the cover in fact, that drew me into it… it is just beautiful. The story is about a girl called Morrigan Crow was born on Eventide, and so she is a curse… she is the blame for everything in and out of town that goes wrong… the dead kitchen cat, the hailstorm, the broken hip and even a local heart attack. Not only that, but she is cursed, cursed to die on the night of her eleventh birthday. It is a grim beginning, but then a book that states the problem right at the start is indeed a good one, because we are left to read our way through to the solution… A series of events brings Jupiter North into Morrigan’s life, and you know that this is no accident. Morrigan has been selected to “try out” for a place in the prestigious organisation, the Wundrous Society. Four difficult and dangerous trials, need to be overcome. These are trials of the exceptional skill, mind bending kind… the extreme self discovery kind of challenge… will Corrigan be able to complete the challenges? This book is full of extremes and surprises as you follow Morrigan on her journey. My middle schoolers will enjoy this book, and our eleven year old gal would absolutely love it… This is a timeless tale, and one that any adventurous middle grade reader would totally love.

My one hesitation about this book is why did I have to go hunting for the illustrator’s name on the the publisher’s page. The illustrations are beautiful and enrich the book, Beatriz Castro’s name deserves to be on the front cover, not buried with the barcode on the back cover… it is a design flaw.

In Case You Need a Hobby



Calm Calligraphy, Malleus: After wanting to up my lettering skills all year, I finally have a book that could well set me on my way. The book begins with a beautiful introduction to the author, her passion for calligraphy is explained. And then she goes on to tell her readers how exactly the art of calligraphy can prove to be somewhat of a meditation in your life. After the introduction there is a section, called The Seven Rules… and these are tips on writing in general, lots of ideas on how to write better, best practices and so on. How to create the perfect space for your writing, be disciplined, take it slowly and so on.
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Essentially this is a workbook, with tons of practice pages… and I am sure if one was disciplined and worked at it… starting with letters and moving on to words, then phrases… that you would indeed not only change your handwriting but have beautiful script writing. I love it lettering practice at it’s best. And the just the kind of challenge I need to write beautifully.

Something to Inspire Your New Year



How to Bullet Plan by Rachel Wilkerson Miller: Bullet planning is the new in thing… it is quick and easy journaling to keep you on track in every single area of your life. I absolutely adore looking at folks marvellous Bullet journals all over instagram… there are well over a million bullet journal tags on instagram, go and check them out and thank me later. Meanwhile, I have been working on my own version of bulletin journaling, had I even known it was called this (!) for years. I had to get this book and I had to check it out and I had to share all the details with you… this is the complete guidebook to everything you need to know: the basics, yearly spreads, monthly spreads, habit trackers and so much more… even travel spreads. Stacks of “How to tips…” and beautiful photographs to show you all the details you might miss in a quick read. There are boxes of quick inspiration and lots of little tips so that you can get started immediately…. because that is what you will want to do. The best kind of notebook for the job (any blank notebook), the best pens, the best ideas, not to mention this book begins with a glossary, so that when you do trawl around on the internet for #bulletjournal inspiration, that you are not totally overwhelmed or baffled by what folk are talking about.
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All you need to get started is a blank notebook, and from there you go… what is it you would like to keep track of? Basically if you love being organised but can’t stand to be told what to do… which is why to-do lists never work for me, then you will love bullet journaling… because you can make it exactly what you want it to be. You can start off really and truly simply and you can create and elaborate as you go along… you can keep it simple or be inspired to do more, it is all up to you and not predetermined by whatever else the crowd is doing.
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I confess I read this book in an afternoon…I couldn’t help myself I was inspired. It is a dipper though, and I will be returning to it again and again for future tips. The book has a soft cover and is about four times fatter than a moleskin (because it is packed with so many tips), but otherwise the same feel and texture. It is lovely you could toss it in your bag and read it on the go and be inspired for weeks!!!

Spy Training For Real



Spy School, Are You Sharp Enough to be a KGB Agent? This is the book all the guys in our house want to inhale in a moment and I would kind of prefer that I got to read it on the side before they even noticed it was in the house. This is the ultimate spy book and I mean ultimate… don’t think fancy gadgets, don’t think boot camp training long before dawn… this book is about training your brain until it is the ultimate elite athlete and spy tool. This book is about sharpening your memory and absorbing all the secrets needed from beginner Junior Agent through the all the levels of training to be an operative double agent.
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The book is packed with real life scenarios and exercises that you have to do… and training techniques with mind maps and mnemonics just the easy one. The purpose, to sharpen your brain… not to mention how to survive a polygraph. This is an extremely useful book and I am not surprised that it is a Russian bestseller.

For Rainbow Rowell Fans of all Ages



Almost Midnight Two Festive Short Stories by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Simini Blocker: This book is beautiful, it is small, glittery, with adorable pen illustrations and it cries out “giftable.” The first story, Midnights, is about Noel, a highly allergic young fellow and Mags a sweet, lifesaver (literally!). They meet every year at the same New Years Eve Party and every year get to know each other a little bit better.
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The next story, Kindred Spirits, is about a girl Elana, who has waited for ever to see the next Star Wars movie and decided she is going to wait in line, no matter what… she spends a week on the pavement with Troy, a tetchy old hat at sitting in line and Gabe a sweet lad with a huge heart for Star Wars… this is really the story of their week in the queue together… Sweet stories, fun holiday reads… for anyone who likes a little love, a lot of friendship and a quick read over the holidays. If you are a fan of Rainbow Rowell you will love these and if you aren’t a fan yet… then these would be a great place to start.

Absolutely Gripping Teen Read



Contagion by Teri Terry: When I saw that we had a Teri Terry book in our review pile I just about died of excitement. Her first series: Slated, Fractured and Shattered, were probably the first “Real teen reads” to be read in our home and we loved them. Absolutely gripping stuff. Let’s move on to Contagion, just saying, is the first in a series, and from the first page you will need to read right until the very end… of the series. One thing about Teri Terry’s writing is that it is very unpredictable, not to mention extremely fast paced. If you have a teen that is a slightly reluctant reader challenge them to read the first few chapters… they will be hooked.

The story is about Shay, a teen whose mum has given her a name that she loathes, not to mention she is bullied to distraction. And then there is Callie, and she is Kai’s younger sister and also somehow in the grip of some sort of epidemic and has been closed off from society… though she can’t remember why. The chapters are short and end right on a cliff hanger every single time. And the book alternates between Shay and Callie, so not only do the chapters end on a cliff hanger but you have to wait a chapter to see what happens next to a particular character. Shay has a photographic memory and Callie is officially missing… and it just so happens that Shay may be one of the last people to have seen her. There is something strange going on with Callie, she appears to be in some sort of government institution… and she is having some sort of out of body experience as she is cured (the book is called Contagion, after all). And then Shay and Callie’s thoughts… hmmm… Creepy, gripping, dystopian and very typically Teri Terry. This book is well over 400 pages long and you will read it really fast… and then you will be in anguish, while you wait for the next book in the series to emerge.

Finally, Young Adult SciFi Read



Satellite by Nick Lake: This book is a touted as the Martian for teens. It is the story of three unusual teens that have been raised together as a family. Fifteen year old Leo and the twins, music-loving Orion and green-fingered Libra, who were all born and raised on Moon 2. They have been raised by astronauts and their whole life has directing them back, towards life on earth. As they draw close to their sixteenth birthday, they will be heading “home.” They are full of trepidation and have no desire to head out of their open ended world of space. The book is told through the eyes of Leo, who loves mathematics and engineering, but wants to live on his grandfather’s ranch in the mountains. The bad language and Leo’s struggle to find his identity when the only choice of a teen crush are really like siblings you have grown up alongside things can be somewhat awkward… and puts this straight into the young adult category for me. Despite all that and the very obvious and annoying “text speak writing” through out… so no capitals,”u” for “you” and so on… the story is a good one and Hood 2 puts it up there with good reads of the year. So if you are a space nut and interested in thinking in “reverse” about what life on earth would be like if you have lived your entire life in deep dark space… then this is the perfect holiday read for you.

Huge thank you to PanMacmillan South Africa for supplying this fabulous collection of books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all the reviews are as usual my own.

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On Take a Deep Breath…

December 14th, 2017 · 8 Comments

I finally took a breath, and it was good, so good. The air filled my lungs and I could breathe again. I didn’t know it, but I had been holding my breath for more than twenty years. Twenty Years. From the moment our first child was born, maybe even conceived, when he surfaced from the tub of water and took his first raggedy breaths… I have been holding my breath. Sometimes holding it real tight and other times just slightly… When your child cries, “What is it?” When they wake in the night, “What is it?” When they come home from a play date devastated, “What is it?” When they think the whole world hates them, “What is it?” When your teen phones you and says, “You know your car?” “What is it?” Motherhood is a journey that requires lot of holding your breath.

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You spend most of your mothering time creating the best for your kids with whatever you have available, their favourite meals, favourite clothes ready to wear, gathering stories they will enjoy, and doing activities you know they will love… No it isn’t all ice-cream and screen time… even though that is what they would love and would be the easy way out. It is more about giving them the stuff that would be best for them, even if they don’t think it is best for them.

You send them to bed timeously, but they do not sleep. You make a healthy dinner and almost all of them love it… but there is always that one. And to be sure the one that doesn’t love it (and no it isn’t always the same one), makes quite sure why you have let them and the world around them down. To be sure, next time you put a meal on the table you will hold your breath a little tighter waiting for “The Next One.” Night after night, meal after meal… you will find yourself somewhat out of breath. And that is just the food situation. There is a whole lot more to your family’s life than meals. There will be days when you are getting everyone to all their best activities, literally leaves you totally breathless and one person will always say… “Can we just stop by… wherever on the way past.” And you (really) want to ROAR “NO” because you can’t even breathe, well you just take a gasp and try to fit that in as well. Because Moms really are doing their best for their kids, and breathing for themselves it turns out, isn’t such a big priority.

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We live in a crazy world where expectations are high and comparisons shattering and while I know I beat my drum to a slightly different beat, and I know I don’t conform to expectations well… I still hold my breath. I want my kids to do their best, I want the to have fabulous friends, I want them to dream big and then go for it… and I want them to appreciate all their opportunities. The thing is somewhere in wanting all this for my kids I think I may have stopped breathing all together. It is crazy I know, because I didn’t realise it.

When I planned a year of Getting Things Done… my intention was really to clean out closets, toss out all the clutter, and clear all the surfaces. Get all those little tasks done that were stopping me from doing what I really want to be doing. Only when you are holding your breath, it is hard to know what it is you are wanting to do… really you kind of stop wanting to do anything. After a year of perpetually picking at projects, fifteen minutes here, and fifteen minutes there, of tossing stuff like never before, of getting so much school done, of sorting actual closets… I realise that I may never be done with that… there will always be clutter, there will always be very important reasons why I should be making the next meal instead of sorting the craft drawers, and there will always be my desk to clear before I can do any work… because that is the family dump zone.

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Turns out I needed to get myself sorted long before I could get the house sorted. (I have so much to learn!!!) I have always loved clearing clutter and keeping our house sorted, it gives me the calm in the storm of living with ten people and all the associated friends and acquaintances that stop by. But I still wasn’t breathing. Turns out, only when I started sleeping like a real person should… not collapsed on the couch while reading to the kids, not slumped over my laptop hoping a blog post would write itself. Real sleep in a real bed through the night… that I started to actually breathe again.

So many people have said, isn’t it lovely you go to gym and have some “me time”… no it isn’t about “me time”… I literally wasn’t breathing and didn’t know it. Getting to gym for me, is all about catching my breath. Moms if you are holding your breath and think you can leave it till later, till your kids are grown, before you start breathing again… trust me… you can’t leave it. You have to start now. Don’t shove yourself at the bottom of the heap, so that your kids can have a better birthday party, don’t lose sleep over getting another contract so that your kids can do another extra-mural… you need to breath to parent. You need to stop for a moment and figure out what it is you need in order to breathe. If it is a nap on weekends, or your coffee brought to you in the morning… if it is ten minutes in the evening watching the sun set. Your family would most likely gladly give it to you… GLADLY, if they knew that is what you need.

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So I am storming through to the end of the year… if you walked into our home, it is most likely messier than it was a year ago, the garden is a tragedy… and I can partly blame that on the drought. In my year of Getting Things Done… I have taking a turn through the kitchen closets, I have dealt with our wardrobes, I have tossed and tossed and tossed… but I am nowhere nearly near done with the project I thought I was doing. I might not have gotten everything I intended done this year… but I did learn how to sleep again. And because of that I have learnt to breath again. This week I went exploring underwater for my first time ever, I was a little nervous about using a snorkel, so I left that on the side. I had to take deep breathes and dive down… and I loved it… a magical world, a whole new adventure. I am breathing again and it is wonderful.

My kids are happier for a mother that is alert when they talk to her, they are thrilled when I head to bed at the same time as they do, and most surprising of all, when I say no, because I have to sleep… they get it. They are excited to have me along on their outings, and not as thrilled that I am keeping up!!! The point is, I didn’t realise that I wasn’t breathing, until I stopped to gather myself. It is the time of year when we fill up our days with activities and stuff, and making memories. Don’t forget yourself, gift yourself with a quiet moment, get some air and breathe deep… you will find you are a much better for it, and so everyone around you will be better for it too.

Remember that my first born is twenty, and my youngest is eight… so if you are reading this and your oldest is eight… and you have several little tots to care for, then trust me you are still holding your breathe really tight and you have a ways to go on the motherhood journey. Don’t compare yourself to where I am, just take a peak at where you will be.

→ 8 CommentsTags: Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en Reviews Stuarts’ Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa…

December 13th, 2017 · No Comments

This book has a very formal title, Stuarts’ Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa, and yet it very quickly became a member of the family. It has been sitting so comfortably on our school table for a couple of weeks and I think it has literally become part of the furniture.

We use nature guide books a lot in our homeschool, because of our endless pursuit of creating the most fabulous nature notebooks. Nature guides are poured over by my kids, keeping them busy and absorbed hour after hour as they learn about new and amazing creatures and fill up their data banks with amazing and unbelievable facts. Most guide books lie around for a while and then they move on to a new favourite topic and a new guidebook appears on the table.

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This one, the Mammals of Africa guidebook, has stood the test of time. I can tell, because it is absolutely stuffed with post-it-notes on pages the kids want to get back to later and also, I think it might be that it is more than a local book, it includes the whole of Africa… and so there are many animals that my children have never seen or heard of, between the pages of this book… and the fact that there are lots of details about the animals that they have encountered… so many facts that they are constantly finding something new to glean.

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These are our favourite animals in Cape Point Nature Reserve and we have done numerous projects on our friends the Cape Mountain Zebra.
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Apart from the obvious, fabulous content of the book, I like this book because it is particularly robust. It has been tossed in a backpack and taken on hikes, it has been paged through again and again, it has dare I say been spattered with watercolours and wiped clean, and it is showing no signs of wearing out, splitting, collapsing or falling apart, any time soon. It may be a soft backed paperback but it is particularly well put together.

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We were so excited to spot a Cape Clawless Otter on one of our recent hikes, and dashed straight to the guidebook to fins out more.

Otherwise, the book begins with an introduction to the vegetation regions of Africa, because different biomes have different animals. The introduction explains how the book is divided into different animal groups. The animal groups are colour coded throughout the book, for quick and easy looking up when you are our in the wilds. After this very short introduction the book literally dives into the animal listings. Each family of animals is divided up again into smaller groups. Each type of animal is displayed with at least one page of full colour photographs, a colour distribution map, measurements and detailed physical descriptions, identification pointers as well as similar species. Their habitat, behaviour, food and reproduction habits are described as well as their status. Clear diagrams for quick reference are provided for quick measurement guesstimates, as well as a silhouette for comparisons and if the animal is diurnal, nocturnal or crepuscular.

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We were excited to spot one of these little bucks on a recent hike.

The 450 page book features literally thousands of animals… from all over Africa, including primates, carnivores, and herbivores, from aardvarks to zebras, with pangolins, hedgehogs and marine mammals in there as well. We have regularly used this book out on adventures to identify animals that we have spotted… and dig deeper into animals that we have specifically learnt about this year. For example, we spent quite a bit of time learning about the Karoo and Riverine Rabbits.

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The Riverine Rabbit and the surrounding Karoo was something we studied in depth for school this past year.

Gallery of Nature NoteBooks

I thought I would include a couple of the gang’s nature notebook pages and a photograph from the book, showing you how our guys create their pages from the Mammal Guide…

Okapi

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Leopard

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Bottlenose Dolphin

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Robust Common Chimpanzee

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Southern Lesser Galago

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You can meet the authors on their website: Stuart on Nature. I received this book from Struik Nature for review purposes. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ No CommentsTags: Se7en at School

Se7en Joins Dinos Alive AR at the Cape Gate Centre…

December 12th, 2017 · No Comments

Following a week of end of year functions, we slid into the school holidays… and all the activities that describe Cape Town as one of the top spots for for summer holidays revved into gear. We were invited to the Dinos Alive AR Expo at the Cape Gate Shopping Centre.

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My kids had a blast at this event and as usual they were given an exceptional evening by the folk at Cape Gate Shopping Centre. They knew they were going to encounter dinosaurs… they were not expecting goodie bags packed with treats!!! And yes, they knew they would have all the screen time in the world, because that is the best way to have fun and meet dinosaurs “in real life…”

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If you need to encounter dinosaurs on a grand scale then you have come to the right place…

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Augmented Reality (AR), It is a Thing!!!

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Photograph credit to Cape Gate Centre

From Big Screen… to medium screen…

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What can I say, kids of today are made of stronger stuff than we were, if a dinosaur had come flying down a tunnel towards me when I was a kid I would have had a heart failure, and they love it and cry out for more!!!

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Just pop up screen on and you are literally good to go.
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Plenty of helpful guidance for anyone who needed it…
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And clearly it was interesting!!!
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And on to Headsets

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Photo credit to Cape Gate Centre

This is what they came for… a complete immersion into the world of dinosaurs and they were suitably wowed…

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Apart from that there was 3-D dinosaur art to create, as well as excavations…

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And for the little ones… colouring.

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And Catering…


The catering team sure had a lot of fun putting this dinosaur themed event together. All sorts of dinosaur bites to eat, and totally winning was the pic’nmix candy bar…

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With every imaginable treat to try…

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All the cuteness…

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I think we might need dinosaur cookie cutters after this event, how cute are the dino-cookies…

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And a popcorn and milkshake bar… fun times!!!

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The Dinos Alive Facts…

For the duration of the summer school holidays, the Dinos Alive AR Exhibition will be at Cape Gate Centre. You can buy your tickets at the door or at web tickets. Your kids will happily spend a morning or an afternoon there, there is lots for them to do, as well as a small store full of dinosaur goodies to buy, for your young dinosaur lover.

Dinos Alive AR

Thank you so much, Cape Gate Centre for a wonderful evening. This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it, though we were given tickets to the event for review purposes. Opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #358

December 11th, 2017 · 2 Comments

If I said what a week, I bet you would believe me!!! I knew it was going to be crazy busy, the whole year was piling up into this week… and I kept thinking I am sure that if we couldn’t make it to all the action this week that the world would keep on spinning and we would all be better off for it. Well it turns out that we weren’t going to make all the action this week, we were completely taken out by a vicious tummy bug and we weren’t better for it at all!!! That being said, we made it to the first few events before we bailed and the world is still spinning without us… a good lesson on priorities. (But do life lessons always have to be so hard?!!!)

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So life has calmed down to a mild storm… all our big kids have left on summer camp and everything is terribly quiet and the house sound asleep at a reasonable hour. Teenagers and sleep, just saying teens can make toddlers look like the best sleepers!!! In other news I went for my first snorkel ever… can we call it snorkelling if I didn’t actually use a snorkel and just swam about with goggles on… I cannot believe how much I loved it and I cannot wait to get back into the water. I am putting a pair of goggles onto my list of goals for next year.

I noticed that I posted my 5000th instgram post this past week… Wow… the years have flown by. I have been watching the countdown for weeks, intending to post something deeply significant, and then I totally missed it!!! Turns out the post was unintentionally significant…

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. If you are looking for Christmas Delights and Crafty Inspiration then rush straight over to Willowday’s Scandinavian Creativity Calendar, Day 1 starts here… Fun, quick and beautiful crafts. If you want to step back in time then you can take a peak at the last three years worth of Christmas Scandinavian Craftiness over here… head straight over and enjoy. Thank me later…
  2. You have to know Veld and Sea’s Lovely foraging Workshops… I spotted this post on Gardenista… all the loveliness!!!
  3. I have just loved this entire series on Handmade Charlotte, and here is an English Country Doll Making Tutorial.
  4. Oh Poetry Heaven… Playing by the Book has a Poetree Adventure with a beautiful new poem from a different and beautifully illustrated children’s poetry book each day… it is just beautiful!!! I love the Emily Dickenson, and the Yeats, and the new Child’s Garden of Verse illustrated by Michael Foreman. There is a ton of stuff to love, go and follow Playing by the Book and fill your illustrated poetry bucket forever!!!
  5. Here’s a great homeschool resource, actually parenting resource, packed with podcasts, 10 Best Podcasts for Your Inquisitive Teen on Blog She Wrote. Piles and piles of great resources.
  6. I am just a little bit excited about GreenPop’s Eden Festival of Action Regreening the Garden Route…
  7. Evidence that kids just don’t need all the stuff, on Becoming Minimalist: Before you Buy Your Kids a Bunch of Toys for Christmas, Read This. And if you are giving gifts because you feel obligated to, or worse receiving gifts when you are already overwhelmed with all the stuff… Minimalist Mom has a great post on Holiday Gifting.
  8. House Swapping, on Almost Fearless… it’s a thing and we are all for it!!!
  9. Food shopping, budget beaters… Taking the Bite out of the Student Budget, or the “Mother of Many Teenager’s”… great tips from WWF.
  10. If you are going to enter a GiveAway right now then head over to one of the most beautiful stores in the world… Imagine Childhood has a fabulous GiveAway!!! Just take a wander through their beautiful catalogue of beautiful natural toys. Oh gasp there is so much to love… page all the way, you have to see the Element blocks and the Constellation books… These are real toys for real kids, that do the work of play!!!

A Blast From the Past:

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Book of the Week


So recently I went to a book launch at the Food Barn Deli in Noordhoek… and I met this book and then discovered it’s author… And you can meet her on her website here, Heather Costaras, aka The Mad HAT.

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I fell in love with the book first. You can read it in a flash, it is a poem really … and I don’t know a woman anywhere who won’t relate to the journey that her magical Hatness has been on. A wild and creative soul, whose life is slowly ebbed into the four sides of a box, all the spunk and feistiness is tossed aside to conform and be the best wife/mother/worker/person/whateverlabelyoulike one can be, all it will cost is your inner smile that is going to get hidden along the way.

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Then Hat has a vision to redefine herself as the person she wants to be. This book is about being your genuine self in a world where we are all a little worried about being ourselves in case we don’t quite fit… when actually we are who we are and there is a space for each of us… Get hold of this book: Read it, then give it to your best friend, give it to your mother, give it to your teenage daughter. You don’t have to be squashed in a box to be great, you just have to be yourself and you will be brilliant!!! LOVE THIS BOOK… it has to be shared. Read the back cover here:…

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The Back Cover

The book is really a graphic novel for grownups, about that lost feeling, that confidence slump, that we all collapse into without even noticing… the book is a journey and reads like an arty journal… Loved it… not a sponsored post at all… just sharing something great that I think our readers would enjoy too.

That’s us… hope you have the most fabulous week!!!

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Discover Old Fourlegs, The Story of the Coelacanth…

December 4th, 2017 · No Comments

Another week and another visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium. We recently attended the book launch of Struik Nature’s The Annotated Old Fourlegs by Mike Bruton, at the aquarium. This is the story of the mysterious Coelacanth, a fish that appears to have four limbs from the fossil records, but these are fins that provide exquisite balance so that they never actually touch the ground.

The book provides a historical account of the fascinating discovery of the coelacanth, after it had been thought to be extinct. It makes for quite a gripping read, not to mention all the players involved were very interesting characters… and certainly provide bookworthy reading throughout. If you are looking for a good read for a nature loving, historian then you have just found it.

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Old Forelegs, the story of the Coelacanth by J.L.B.Smith, was first published in 1956 and was the book about the discovery of the once thought to be extinct Coelacanth. With the story unraveling throughout the book, you don’t miss a thing, it has been cleverly designed so that you can read the original book and learn about the unfolding drama, but so much more… because as you read the original story they have created margins for a commentary and tons of new photographs and anecdotes. The original book reads like a saga… bringing the adventurous life of a scientist straight onto the reading pile of folk all over the world.

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This book really did hale the popularisation of science for everyday people, with six later English editions and it has been published in several other languages as well.
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This new and annotated book, is indeed an updated story of the original book and is literally a book within a book. I love it, you can still read the original version, with all the peculiarities of life in South Africa in the ’50’s and alongside all the new discoveries and essential comments to bring the reader up to date. His purpose was to not just keep the story alive, but to bring it up to date. The author, Mike Bruton, was inspired by Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice, and spent a year gathering data and doing new research for it.

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Around the 1956 edition of the book, new commentary and new insights have been added into the book, and hence the feel of a book within a book. Naturally the coelacanth story, is one that has captured the heart and imagination of folk all over the world and so the story didn’t just end on publication in 1956, but the story goes on.

About the Authors

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My guys were excited to meet the author, it is not often that you meet someone who knows all about these interesting fish. The author grew up in East London, and as a keen fisherman was destined to come across the Coelacanth. If not in the sea then at the East London Museum.

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The nature of this book, is that it is a book within a book and hence there are essentially two authors. The original author, J.L.B.Smith, grew up in Graaff Reinit, and while he was at school started a school museum. After achieving the highest marks in the country for chemistry, he went on to study at Oxford. He returned as a lecturer to Stellenbosch university. He loved fishing and would cycle down to Cape Point to go fishing!!! After Stellenbosch he went on to Rhodes University and that is where his passion for fish came to the fore, and he started the Department of Ichthyology.

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Se7en+1 Amazing Coelacanth Facts

  1. Coelacanth fossils have been found all over the world, and are well known in the fossil record. They were contemporaries with well known dinosaurs and in fact one of them was found inside the remains of a spinosaurus. The significance of rediscovering these living fossils is that they give a vision into ancient life. Fossils have been found in estuaries and fresh water, but there is no fossil record for deep waters. In fact they live at about 800m depth and they are not considered deep water fish.
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  3. The Coelacanth is known as the Panda of the seas, a symbol of conservation. Their images have been posted on stamps and money, postcards and the list goes on. You may have even spotted Japanese Fish Print of one of them.
  4. They can be found in canyons north of Madagascar, and in Indonesia, both sides of the Indian Ocean. Also around the Pacific rim of fire. In fact you can apparently go diving off Gondwana at the Triton dive lodge, and see them.
  5. Live catches off Sondwanaland, have revealed that they have unique patterns and they could create an inventory of unique identikits of every living Coelacanth. Fishermen catch the fish, which are comfortable at a depth of 800m, with their 1.5km coconut fiber lines. Nets don’t work there, they have to use long lines. Also, modern gill nets set for sharks of Tanzania catch them. There is in fact a coelacanth resuscitation unit Dar es Salam, because the fish can survive 36 hours after capture, if returned to water.
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  7. They used a Jago to Study the live animals. They discovered that they are social animals that gather in caves and hunt at night.
  8. They have an extremely long gestation, 36 months. This low production rate does mean that there always is that extinction risk.
  9. This species has survived lots of ice ages, mass extinctions and will most likely survive global climate change. We are the endangered species here and the coelacanth may out live us. The effects of choral bleaching and plastic waste still has to be determined. But the ocean off Tanzania is particularly clogged with plastic. They are very susceptible to dtt poisoning because they are high up the food chain.
  10. While they were initially against keeping them in captivity to observe, because if one is in captivity then everyone will want one. However scientists realise that there is a lot to learn about them and they are relatively easy animals to care for… they are very slow moving, they eat from your hand, they like cold oxygenated water and are very sensitive to light.

And of course the Two Ocean Aquarium

An event at the aquarium does require a little bit of a photo walk… I can’t resist the Jellys…

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Our friend Yoshi, taking a nap before the evening got underway…
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And she woke up mid presentation to take a look directly at us…

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And then this magic…

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Huge thank you to Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa for inviting us to their event, we did receive a copy of the book for review purposes. This post is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own. Thank you also to the Two Oceans Aquarium, always a great location for an event… fabulous catering, fabulous venue… perfect evening.

The Story of the Coelacanth

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Se7en’s December and Your Free Printable Calendar…

December 1st, 2017 · 2 Comments

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Hello December and we’ve made a special calendar for you this month… it is an Advent calendar.

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You are welcome to either print the first page as our usual calendar and decorate a tree each day for the month of December or you can print both pages and with a craft knife cut along three sides of each window on the first page. Line your pages up and as you open a window each day of the month you will reveal a Nativity scene as December rolls along. To print them out click on the images, they will open in a new tab… choose to print them using “landscape,” it just works better.

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Meanwhile here are our links and ideas to add to your calendars and explore during the busy month of December…

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar