The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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International Coastal Clean-Up Day… A Quick Report…

October 2nd, 2014 · 2 Comments

We have a thing for beach clean-ups… it is a great family outing and an opportunity to get involved and make a noticeable difference to the environment in a fun way… and the results are instantaneous and obvious. Recently it was International Coastal Clean-up Day…

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And I posted this pic on instagram… but the blog post has been waiting for a little TV exposure…

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Here you have a completely clean… pristine looking beach…

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And here are some of the bags of litter collected, clearly the beach was not nearly as clean as it looks. The most collected clutter… drinking straws, lollipop sticks and ear buds (eeewwww…)

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The tragedy of our beaches, especially for the animals that live in them, is that they look clean from far, but they are far from clean. It is a pretty sad reflection that the world over we are not keeping our natural playgrounds clean… and so well done to the folk that make the effort to clean up and make things ship shape…

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And this beach needed an army of cleaners…

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Really… a multitude of folk…

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The pile just grew and grew…

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And a staggering 290 garage bags later… not exactly the pristine beach you might have thought it was…

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This is Hout Bay… one of our top tourist beaches, cleared of litter for a day. You can read more about the clean-up at the Two-Oceans Aquarium website…

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Yesterday this clean-up was featured on SABC1’s YOTV, here’s the link, Credit: Courtesy YOTV and SABC1 ( and granny… if you are reading… you might want to click on the link and watch all the way to the end)…

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Caring and Sharing · Outings · Saturday Spot

We Made it through Yuppie Chef’s Mastering Meat #2…

October 1st, 2014 · 12 Comments

We are planning to work our way through all of Yuppie Chef’s Cooking Classes for school this year… it has been a lot of fun so far… For the last couple of weeks we have been working our way through Yuppie Chef’s Mastering Meat Course #2.

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Previous Courses We Have Put to the Test

Each Course works in the same way… a fabulous local foodie, takes their online students through a series of video lectures. each lecture is accompanied by printable lecture notes and a quiz to help you retain what you have learnt. And then each video comes with a handful of relevant recipes to try. New and interesting courses are launching all the time and they have heaps of specials available too… so keep an eye on the Yuppie Chef Cooking School Page.

About This Course

So this course is the second course in the Mastering Meat Series… and to be honest we took a little while to get started. We should have dived in straight away, because it turns out that the class teacher, Peter Goffe-Wood, is really, really good at sharing his knowledge. Once we got going this course was so fabulous, the side dishes were amazing and the proof was in the taste. Our experience shows that you shouldn’t be alarmed by types of recipes that you will be conquering the course looked so much more “higher grade” compared to the previous meat course, but the video classes and the step by step instructions meant we could make really impressive looking feasts, with out too much effort.

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The first meat course definitely covered the basics and the second… well the second looked significantly more advanced. The course looked a bit like you feel when you watch the first week or two of MasterChef and they test the contestants to see if they know the basics and then you blink and a couple of weeks into the competition and the contestants are producing meals that literally look like works of art. Anyway one rainy weekend lead to another and eventually we just dived in… watched the video’s read the notes and picked a couple of recipes…

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Once we got going we were pretty unstoppable… fab, fab feasts followed and I am so glad that we did this. I have never really got much further than roasting dinner and this course does indeed take you to new heights. I would never have dreamt of cooking a huge piece of pork any other way than roasting… and while we never got around to making our own bacon… we now know how too. I have to say that this course gave us a lot of confidence in our abilities. And definitely we have stepped beyond just another roast dinner every time we have meat to serve for dinner. What I really like about trying new dishes and vastly different flavours to our usual ones, is that since the kids are doing most of the cooking they are really eager to try the results… fear of new flavours be-gone. These guys are game to try almost anything.

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One thing that really inspired us about this course was the side dishes… they were really great and something everyone wanted to help with… who does’t want to master their mash potato, we might have to invest in a proper masher though, our one is definitely sub-standard and might have been somewhat over extended during the “mastering the art of mashing” process. Also, we haven’t made pasta forever, but Chinese noodles have become a way of life around here – so easy, so quick and so fun. And honestly why have we not had couscous salad for the longest time it is one of our favourites.

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And the Joy of it all is that we have an ever growing cookbook that is filling up with recipes we have tried and tested and notes packed with tips that we can refer back to in the future.

Recipes We Tried and Tested

  1. Coq Au Vin Rouge with Mashed Potato…
  2. Loved the tips for making the best mashed potatoes and we have had just the right weather for huge bowls of mash… comfort food at it’s very best…

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    I am not sure why we never cook meals like this, because everyone dived in and loved it and really so easy to create… cut up your veg, pop it in the oven and leave it while you get on with a couple of other things…

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    We could have stopped here and my gang would have been happy with yummy roast onions and a heap of crispy add ins… I must in fact remember this for roast dinners, this would make a fabulous side…
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    But in went the chicken and wine and stock and a couple of trimmings…

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    This may have been in the oven a little long… but then a little person did break an arm during the creating of this meal – family life and dinner must be served…

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    And there you have a Coq a Vin Rouge… and several happy customers.

  3. Chinese Pork Belly With Egg Noodles and Pak Choi
  4. I love how they say, in the stewing section, that: “Pocket Friendly Cuts Work Best.” I can assure you that we very rarely, maybe once a year, buy pork belly… and it was really hard not to just roast it as usual… and go the extra mile and try something new. I am so glad we did… this meal was literally off the charts good… and well worth doing the course just to grab the recipe!!!

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    It is pretty criminal that we haven’t made pasta for ages…

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    Everybody loves making it and fresh is so delicious…

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    Once the noodles were made we got on with the business of cooking the pork…

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    All sorts of interesting tastes and flavours were added to our biggest pot…

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    And it bubbled away for a time until we were ready to plate up…

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    This was so delicious and we could eat it daily for weeks without any complaint from anyone!!!

  5. Moroccan Shoulder of Lamb with ChickPeas, Orange and Green Olives
  6. We found ourselves in possession of a whole bag of stewing lamb and so we decided to dive in and try another stew from the course…

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    Pan preparation…

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    Adding the lamb…

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    And a heap of stunning flavours…

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    This was a little exotic for one or two little guests on the night, but my guys named it and claimed it… so another stew in our back pocket.

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  7. Couscous Salad
  8. What good would a meat course be without the traditional braai… and wow.

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    What fabulous braai tips there were…

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    Our family loves couscous salad and we haven’t made on about forever so we decided it was time to master a new one…

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    Chopping and snipping…

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    And then the couscous, which is just so easy…anybody can make this…

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    Toss it together and you are done…

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    Who could resist…

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    Yuppie Chef Cooking School

    You can pop over to Yuppie Chef Cooking School and see what’s new and which courses are on special… Each course has the best teacher available for the topic, video lessons, printable notes and tips, printable recipes and quiz questions throughout… we are loving them…

    1. The Art of Baking With Sarah Graham
    2. Mastering Meat #1 with Peter Goffe-Wood
    3. Mastering Meat #2 with Peter Goffe-Wood
    4. French Classics with Franck Dangereux
    5. Quick and Easy Dinners #1 with Kamini Pather
    6. Quick and Easy Dinners #2 with Kamini Pather
    7. Sweet Treats with Sarah Graham
    8. Easy Entertaining with Franck Dengereux

    The next course we are tackling is French Classics, with Franck Dangereux. The gang are very excited about that… I am going to be the one to break it to them that there is more to French cuisine than piles of Crepes. Just can’t wait!!!

    And we have finally updated our recipe page… click on the link for a quick catch up.

    This is not a sponsored post. If you follow us on social media you will know that we love everything about Yuppie Chef. We were not paid to write anything about their courses, though they have given us free entry to them, for us to try and tell you about. The opinions expressed in this post are as usual totally our own.

→ 12 CommentsTags: Monday Munchies · Reviews

A Day Out in the City… Heritage Day and Museums Were Free…

October 1st, 2014 · 6 Comments

So we appear to be in the season of business, birthdays and friends and just life. This is a good thing… blogging has to wait, ever so slightly… but last Wednesday was Heritage Day, also known as braai day. We all all about celebrating braai day, but it also happens to overlap with all our local museums being open and free. You know us, always good for a free event. We embraced the queues, they really weren’t bad and the very energetic and fun loving crowds… and headed into the city. And throughout the day wherever we ambled we kept bumping into people we know, so we were not alone in thinking it was the perfect day to head out and about… and collect the obligatory shark photo…

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And if nothing else we gained an family photo… huge “well done” to the friends we were with for thinking of this!!!

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There were a few… but fun to bump in to folk and chat… and mostly everyone was hoping to get into the planetarium… clearly this needs to go onto our must visit list. Why have we never been there.

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A little screen time…

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The heady joy…

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And live entertainment…

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The National Museum

Rock Painting…

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Weird and wonderful animals…

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Bones of course…

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And bands…

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And rocks…

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And fossils…

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And skulls…

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And a “hi” from Hood #1…

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Big bones…

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Little bones…

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And teeny tiny bones…

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And deep concentration…

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And we finally made it into the “Discovery Room…” and there really was plenty to discover…

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And out into the fresh air for a run… it was a good day for museuming…

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But a little inclement for the top of Table Mountain…

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The National Art gallery

And from one museum to another… we headed for the Art Gallery, because I confess we have never been there.

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There are strictly “no photographs” in the art gallery…

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And we were fairly quickly in and out… and a moment of reflection…

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The Company Gardens

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And a wander through hundreds of families enjoying their day out…

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And then there was the mime…

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That our littlest guy was convinced was just a statue… he even touched him to prove it…

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And then he stood up…

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And it was all very festive…

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Flowers were walking by in the streets…

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It was busy, in a fun kind of a “look and see” kind of a way…

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Only one person was brave enough to try more than a toasted sandwich for lunch…

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The Castle of Good Hope

Last stop the parade…

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And one of our favourite outings…

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The castle…

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There was heaps going on…

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And handlers…

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Underground tours…

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And exotic cars…

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A little sto-away

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My gang can’t get enough of exploring this place…

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And we spotted out friends at City Sightseeing Bus… from the top of the castle wall.

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Three museums and a day out in the city… pretty good for a Heritage Day celebration…

→ 6 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #241

September 29th, 2014 · 1 Comment

A Fabulous Fun Post… as the weekend winds down…

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First things first… we would really love heaps of readers to enter out Rhino Craft GiveAway, it is a rather fabulous giveaway. Click on the link and head over there… R500 to spend on books, stationary, crafts, goodies at CNA.

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Book of the Week

The Keeper, Published by Penguin Books, South Africa: In other news… I went to a great book launch last week, about an intriguing book. I only received the book the day before the launch so I decided to dash my way through it… very gripping, a page turner. I very quickly had to slow right down, this is not one that you want to rush at all. It is a book that needs to be savoured, the author, Marguerite Poland, is one of those rare people that are able to create with words, what others can’t even imagine. This is an intriguing book – I think for anyone who has ever visited a lighthouse anywhere, there is something remote and beautiful, not to mention moody, about them and the feeling that there is a story prevails. Let’s face it, lighthouses get to shine their light on a lot of the most dramatic life events…

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So the book… is a very good read, with a delightfully South African flavour… I am loving it. It begins with a dramatic accident – that’s the hook. The story unravels as the Light House Keeper relates his story to the nursing sister looking after him. Think, all the intricacies of small town life, except the small town is so very much smaller than your regular small town because the drama all happens on the offshore island of Bird Island, in the late 1950’s. Life appears to be simple, how can it be complicated… a handful of light house keepers and guano collectors on a remote island in the middle of nowhere. The keepers come from a long line of keepers and the wive happen to be keepers’ daughters. Relationships are complicated and there is nowhere to turn… you are stuck on a remote island and things have to work out. Only with this disparate collection of characters, the unbreakable rules of the light and the history in every footfall… nothing can go well.

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Last week I attended the launch of the book at one of our favourite independent book stores, right in our hood: Kalk Bay Book Store. What a great and eloquent speaker, Marguerite Poland, turned out to be, it was rather lovely to meet her. It was fascinating hearing the background to the book and the serendipitous events that led to the writing, not to mention the launch of the book. If you enjoy emotional intrigue and sifting through the twists and turns of other folks’ lives then you will enjoy this.
I was given a copy of this book by Penguin Books South Africa for revere purposes, I wasn’t paid to write the review and the opinions expressed are as usual entirely my own.


Here are some lovely links from this week:

  1. If you aren’t following Head Heart Hand’s Brilliant Student Tips then it is time to jump on board… really you are missing out if you aren’t and you can start following anytime: Here is snippet of the series with: Student Tip #13: Money Management.
  2. This Colourful Teepee on the Crafty Crown made me think that maybe it is time we started wapping some of our bazillion sticks with colourful yarn.
  3. Supposing we had an actual closet… I love this space put to good use: A Closet Transformation on Sew Many Ways.
  4. This just looks so incredible… fun, fun, fun… The magical world of playful.
  5. Because I love Imagine Childhood and apples… this makes a fabulous link of loveliness: Ten Amazing Apple Recipes on Imagine Childhood.
  6. The artist in you may make you want to enter Yuppie Chef Competition: card/magnet I know a few designer types round here, who could really get into a project like that.
  7. You know me, always looking for a good getaway, well here is one that is absolutely free…you just have to get there!!!
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:

That’s us… Hope your weekend was a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ 1 CommentTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en + 1 Truths About Living With a Heap of Kids…

September 26th, 2014 · 27 Comments

It is birthday season and last weekend my birthday skidded past alongside life as we know it. We are only half way through the birthdays of this month… I usually blog something totally different to normal for my birthday and this year I thought I would bring you Se7en+1 opinionated opinions about living with a heap of kids.

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So many readers have asked, is there a reason why we would choose to have eight kids (we didn’t, we would have had heaps more if the father person and I had met sooner), and then live in a two bedroomed home and without a car… there must be a story behind that. There isn’t really, life leads you down a path and like most people we took that path. That sounds terribly unintentional, it isn’t… we always wanted our kids to be part of a gang of kids and our own personal rent-a-crowd appealed in every way… So this post is for all of our readers, who gasp… and would like to know the thinking behind all the action over here…

Just Quietly Destroying The Myths of Living With Se7en + 1 Kids


    Very often one of the first things folk say when we mention that we have eight kids is… shew we must be wealthy…

  1. We Are Not Overly Wealthy: We have EIGHT kids!!! “Financial Wealth” is not ever going to be our middle name. On the other hand, our kids have food to eat every single day and clothes to wear mostly. So we are in fact better off than heaps of folk around the world. We have everything we need to get a long and so much more. I think the intentional part is defining the difference between what we need to survive and want we want.
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    Well you must have a huge house…

  3. We Don’t Live in a Ten Bedroomed Mansion: This one always makes me smile, with eight kids when in the world would I ever find the time to clean a huge house. I really want to have a small house, in fact I need to have a small house. We have a regular home with a lounge and a kitchen… two bedrooms and a bathroom and in a moment of insanity we added another bathroom – one more bathroom to clean. Our house might not be huge in the “each child has it’s own room” sense, but most folks’ homes around the world could probably easily fit into our kitchen.
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    Gasp so your kids share a room… they must fight all the time.

  5. I am not Sure that Sharing a Room is the Source of All Conflict: Take a look at the world, the largest protagonists don’t even share a continent. Our kids rooms are where they sleep and read – they have a space to sleep and plenty of books, so there really is nothing to fight over. There is only one thing that they do fight like crazy over… and it is not toys, art materials, clothes, stuff… if you don’t actually own stuff then fighting over stuff is a non-issue. However, our kids do feel very strongly about INJUSTICE in general, and more specifically the potential injustice from the person dishing up meals. “He got an extra-morsal of dinner, she might have received less porridge…” Food has to be distributed evenly. Now that is a matter of world peace, and I am not exactly kidding about it.
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    Well you must Drive a Bus…

  7. We Don’t Own a Family Car: This fact often leaves folks with their mouth literally hanging open, but after years of our car breaking down wherever we went it finally broke down forever about a year ago and we haven’t looked back. The father person has a small car for getting to and from the city for work, we live about 45 minutes from the city centre. Occasionally it is a pain to be without a car, but to be honest it has been fairly liberating, our days have freed up immeasurably, we have time to amble to the store, the beach, the library… in fact we are within walking distance of everything we need for our day to day living. When we have to go further, we have had to ask friends for rides and this it turns out is a good thing. Friends like to help out, I don’t think we are meant to function as totally functioning little units… Just as I like to help friends out, friends like to help us out. We are meant to depend on each other.
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    Your House Must be Full of Kid’s Equipment…

  9. Our house is full of stuff, but not a lot of clutter: We don’t have a heap of stuff. We aren’t minimalists, by any means, but we just don’t have a heap of gear. It never gets so cold that we need snow gear, we have one raincoat… why would all of us want to go out in the pouring rain at a time. We store like things with like – so toys with toys out the front door, shoes with shoes behind the front door, backpacks are squashed flat and in the closet. Linen, well that is on the beds, and towels are hanging in the bathroom or in the swimming bag. Basically, we keep what we use and whatever we don’t use we give away. The only thing we have a ton of, and I mean a ton… is books. As for kids’ gear, we just don’t. Just as I teach my kids that the candy companies are out to get them in the check out aisle, I firmly believe that most baby paraphernalia is marketed at adults and we don’t actually need it. Your baby won’t grow up better, braver, stronger, cleverer or even wealthier… because you bought certain baby products. But manufacturers really do know that you know that, so they aim at where parents hurt the most and here again: your baby will not necessarily sleep better because you bought a specific stroller, swing or even socks (yours or the babies). Just not true. So the only evidence that a heap of kids live in our house is that there are ten toothbrushes in the bathroom. And dare I mention only one bottle of shampoo.
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    Well Bedtime Must be Crazy…

  11. Half My kids at Least, Still Sleep in my Bed: Long may that last, we are firm believers in the family bed. I have found that eventually kids do beg for their own bed, but until then I am happy to toss them all into bed at the same time most evenings, read a couple of stories and drift off to sleep chatting about their day. Everybody likes a good story and we have never had a problem with folk heading for bed or with kids getting up after they have turned in for the night… why would they want to leave where it is warm and cosy, when they are tired after a good day of playing.
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    What About All the Laundry…

  13. We Constantly Declutter: We have a strong policy of one on and one in the wash… everyone pretty much owns the same clothes: two pairs of shorts, two pairs of longs and a couple of t-shirts. Everybody has a warm top or a sweater and a bathing costume… We do laundry every other day… and really the laundry pile can never get that huge because we run out of clothes long before the laundry pile can get too crazy. We have found that for most tasks, it is easier to do a “little” more often than a huge mountain of chores when they build up.
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    And the se7en + 1th…What About the Chaos…

  15. Well There is a Background Noise Around Here: We think we lead a quiet sedate life… and we do. Mostly everybody is quietly doing their own thing… reading drawing, playing with legos, building a house, drawing. Quietly busy… tinkering away and getting on with their lives. However, almost each person is whistling their own tune, humming their own song and one or two are beating their own drums and one, just one, is always playing the trumpet. So while the quiet is quiet for us… the background buzz can be a little overwhelming to those not quite accustomed to it. It’s our normal and we like it, just one person missing can leave everyone feeling a little lonely. I guess when you live as part of a crowd that’s the way you like it.

Previous Birthday Posts

→ 27 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Our Events

Se7en + 1 Crafty Rhino’s… And a Fantastic GiveAway from CNA.

September 24th, 2014 · 7 Comments

September 22 is Save the Rhino Day… something we care about deeply. It seemed appropriate that we spent the whole day crafting rhinos. The irony is that even though we live in Africa this is as close as my kids have been to a real live rhino… and we would like it to be better for future generations…

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Our kids are crazy about all things environmental, spending time in the great outdoors is fundamental and if they could protect every single rhino, themselves, they would. But in the mean time they are happy to raise awareness about the plight of the rhino. So here you have a sad rhino without his horn and a happy rhino with his horn…

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A couple of weeks back we were surprised by a box of crafty goodness… and encouraged to create some rhino craftiness, and to offer our readers a most fantastic Give Away… sounds like our sort of fun, especially in the name of a cause we really believe in.

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This box was beautifully presented with all sorts of lovely goodness packed within… we were so excited that we just oohed and aahed at it for over a week. There was glitter and glue, crayons and card, buttons and beads… lots and lot of exciting collage goodies: pencil crayons and pompoms, colourful tape and stickers… and a voucher to go shopping for any other materials we might need. Hello!!! We bought a heap of paints and glue sticks (because I think we have a gluestick monster in the house that eats them while we sleep), plasticene (modelling clay), pipe cleaners and paper party straws… just can’t get enough of those!!!

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This was all because CNA have launched a grand Rhino-Inspired-Craft-Competition…

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We thought we would create some rhino inspiration and all the competition details are at the bottom of this post… scroll down, scroll down…

Crafty Inspiration

A crafty day was declared… We began by drawing rhinos on the packaging, as one does. Who wants to waste fine packaging…

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Lots and lots of snipping… and a heap of wild card rhinos…

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Followed by a lot of painting, drawing, gluing, snipping, sprinkling and sticking, modelling, making and creating. Little rhino dioramas erupted all over the house… rhinos and rangers…

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The Gallery: A Crash of Rhinos

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materials: black fineliner pens

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materials: acrylic paints, glitter glue and buttons.

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materials: acrylic paints and scrap-booking/collage flowers.

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materials: crayons, black acrylic paint and his own nail.

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materials: glue-stick, tissue paper, clear glue and sequins.

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materials: project glue and glitter, lots of it, and mini pompom toes.

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materials: wash tape, project glue and paper party straws.

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materials: project glue and plasticene, and a button.

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A Little More Inspiration

Basically Africa without rhinos would be very dull…

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Even one rhino wouldn’t be enough…

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We need heaps of Rhinos…

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The GiveAway

So we highly recommend that you create bunches of rhino crafts and enter the CNAinspired competition on their Facebook page… to encourage you and totally get you onboard with this project CNA is offering one of our readers their own R500.00 voucher… in order to stock up your craft cupboard and get going!!!

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Now CNA is a South African store… and we don’t want to leave our overseas readers out, obviously we can not send you a voucher, but we can send you a green rhino inspired shopping bag…

How to Enter

Readers in South Africa

Here you go… to stand a chance of winning a R500. voucher to spend at CNA… you can enter our rafflecopter competition. You get an extra entry for liking their Face Book Page, and another entry for following them on Instagram.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Readers Outside of South Africa

To stand a chance of winning an environmentally friendly shopping bag please enter our rafflecopter competition. You get an extra entry for liking their Face Book Page, and another entry for following them on Instagram.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

The closing date of this competition is 10 October 2014… enter away!!!

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This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write it. CNA did provide us with all the crafty materials, and more, that we needed to create this post. They also gave us a R500. voucher to choose our own materials and a voucher for our readers to enjoy. (We provided the shopping bag for our overseas readers ourselves).

→ 7 CommentsTags: Caring and Sharing · GiveAways and Swaps · Tuesday Art Task

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood 1…

September 22nd, 2014 · 18 Comments

So we had a weekend of birthdays…

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood #1

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The chap who recreates the world of Tolkien every time we go to the beach…


The guy with a wicked sense of humour…


The Lego creator of note…


From blocks he creates entire worlds…


The teacher of all things fascinating to little people…


And the trumpeter of note…


To the one person ready to braai at a moment’s notice…


And our super keen photographer…



To the lad that never stops drawing…


Always ready with an incredible tale or the definition of an incredible word…


To the man who insists on a hat…







Who appears to have grown up so very suddenly…




Wishing you the Very Best Year Ahead…

Previous Blogging Birthday…

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