October 20th, 2014 · 2 Comments
Almost every year, around this time we have held some sort of virtual #CuppaforCANSA tea party. We would love our friends around the world to join us. You are all invited…
It is a big event for us, it is a cause dear to our hearts and one that is easy for the whole family to get involved in. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t been deeply affected, either themselves, their best friend or close family member, by Cancer… We are thrilled to support a cause that uses funds donated to raise awareness, to do research, to promote prevention and to support sufferers.
It Is This Easy
A little while back we got our instagram friends to join us for a cup tea each afternoon… I was battling to get the bookshelves sorted so cried out to our instagram friends – a shelf a day and cup of tea and a quick quiet read as a reward. I quickly discovered what a supportive collection of followers we have… So here’s the thing starting tomorrow we will be sharing a cup of tea on our instagram feed each day for the next se7en+1 days… you are welcome to take a picture and load it up and join us… once, twice… Se7en + 1 times… somedays we will have friends over, some days we will bake and some days… well, we will just go with the flow. Everyday we plan to post a photograph on instagram and tag it: #se7ensCuppaforCANSA
Some Very Exciting Tips
Tip #1: If you decide to have a couple of friends over for tea and to donate some funds for a CuppaforCANSA… then LeCreuset has a fantastic Host a #cuppaforCANSA Competition that you will want to enter… The closing date is the 31 October 2014, and you can find all the details here…
Tip #2: And if you feel a need, and we often do, to bake with your cup of tea… then look no further than our friends over at Yuppie Chef, they have a fantastic Baking Challenge happening right now… Remember that Free Baking Class we were raving on about, well bake anything from lesson four, three fool proof cakes to choose from… and it’s Yuppie Chef, you can count on fabulous fabulous prizes for everyone… Yuppie Chef’s Baking Challenge #YCbakingchallenge closes on Sunday 26 October 2014… check out all the details right here.
Everything you Need to Know About Hosting a Tea Party
In a Nutshell
Tell us in the comments if you are going to join us for tea, or days later if you have joined us for tea. If you are on instagram or twitter… and use the hashtag #se7ensCuppaforCancer. If you do join us for tea and would like donate to this cause… click on the box below. Donate away… even the smallest amount is a welcome amount… Join us, and let us know… #se7ensCuppaforCancer
Tags: Caring and Sharing
October 19th, 2014 · 2 Comments
A Fabulous fun Post filled with links and news… and the father person had tickets to the rugby… a sport like no other… I tell you!!!
The crowds spend a lot of time like this, the teams spend a lot of the time like this… the players spend a lot of time collapsed on the ground and being visited by medics…
It was a perfect, perfect evening… and a complete change from everyday life…
Thank you to so many of you who have already told us where you are, we would love to know where in the world our readers are, please click through and leave a comment.
Book of the Week
This book has been jammed in our youngest person’s backpack for a little while now. It is part of a series of first facts books published by Ladybird books. I grew up on Ladybird books and I can’t help loving them. The pages are bright and fun to look at, lots of images: photographs and illustrations for curious little people. Each double page spread covers a topic, like a planet or living in space, there are three or four blocks of factual facts. The writing is easy enough to read for a proficient reader, but you are most likely going to be reading this to your avid youngsters. Very fun, very short and sweet… no boring overload here… and the silliest page, a page of jokes, galactic gags… has proved to be the most popular page of all!!!
We received this book from Penguin Books South Africa for review purposes. We were not paid to write this review and the opinions expressed are entirely our own.
Here are some lovely links from this week:
- Coolest thing I saw on the internet all week was this LEGO science experiment by Tonya Staab… The will it sink or float test just got a whole lot more fun, because well… LEGO!!!
- You will love these Fabulous Foodie Instagrammers in Yuppie Chef’s Spatula Magazine this week. There are so many good reasons to follow fabulous foodies on instagram… just for inspiration!!!
- Any inspired artists amongst our readers, I spotted this competition on twitter this week: The Cape Leopard Trust Art Competition. The competition closes on the 27 October 2014… so don’t leave it to long before you get your paints out.
- And our friend over at the Crafty Crow sure knows how to make a sweet crafty tutorial: Mini-Milestone Award Ribbons!!!
- Here’s a Ted Talk: “Let’s Talk Parenting Taboos” that I enjoyed lately… I loved the “His and Hers: How much do you love them graph…”
- And this post: 5 Benefits of Having a Challenging Teen… If you are looking for encouragement, then head over to this post – it is a must read post.
- I couldn’t say this any better… from We Are That Family: Dear World: Let’s Stop Giving Our Crap to the Poor.
And the se7en + 1th link:
- 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 is a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
Some years the focus of your school year can end up far from where you ever thought it would go and this year was one of those years. One trip to the library a couple of months ago and we took out a book on teaching tourism to scholars, it was such an inspiration. That was all we need to get the idea to study a little tourism… glean the landmarks, and the main features of countries around the world. Learning about countries around the world suddenly became learning with a purpose… what if we ever got to go there. Turns out there is a vast difference between learning a couple of facts about a country and planning a visit!!!
The last few weeks, we have had heaps of visitors from friends all over Africa, and naturally our focus has turned towards home. A couple of months into our studies and we have figured out how to get from country to country, which sites in Southern Africa are on our must see list, which countries need yellow fever cards and where to find the best markets, game parks and good spots for local adventures. And then Mapstudio asked us to review their Africa Playing Cards and we were all for it and we knew our readers would love them too…
The cards are a deck of regular playing cards and you can play regular card games with them, but each card also comes with a country on it and a couple of fast facts:
- The location in Africa.
- The map
- The flag
- Area (miles and kilometres)
- Highest Point
- Capital and Important Cities
- Main Exports…
I think there might have been one or two early risers… trying to master some facts on the quiet…
And the most coveted card in the pack… South Africa of course!!!
3 Quick Games with Country Cards
- “And Just Where Are You Going?” Divide the cards amongst the players… and give each player a map of Africa. Take turns… the player whose turn it is gets to give the others clues about the country in their hand… and the first player to get it wins the card. Player with the most cards wins.
- The Best of the Rest: Divide the cards amongst the players. Each player takes turns to ask for the largest area, the lowest population, the country with the capital earliest or latest in the alphabet… Basically any question that provides a winner. The winner gets the card and ultimately the player with the most card wins.
- Neighbouring States: Divide the cards amongst all the players and the first player puts down a card. Take turns, and if a player has a card that is neighbouring any of the cards on the table they can put a card down (think dominoes)… first player to place all their cards on the table is the winner.
We have two packs of Africa Country Cards to GiveAway to our readers… One to a local reader living in South Africa and one to someone living outside of South Africa.
After asking our readers if they prefer “leave a comment” or “rafflecopter” GiveAways last week, it was pretty unanimous…our readers like to leave comments… So now we would love lots and lots of comments from you all: Leave a comment and tell us where you are… We really want to know and would love to put a pin on our map wherever our readers are… If you can be precise and tell us the state and town that would be great… Please help us cover our map in pins!!!
This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of 23 October, 2014. We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Friday Fun Post after that. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!
We would like to thank MapStudio who supplied us with three packs of cards, one to review and two to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.
Tags: Geography · GiveAways and Swaps · Se7en at School
October 15th, 2014 · 6 Comments
Guest Posting at PanMacmillan South Africa this week: All about Young Adult Literature: The inside scoop on what’s out there for young adults…
Here’s the start…
In a world where marketers are trying to separate adults, young adults, teens and tweens into different categories, and so expand their market, a glance at the young adult section in a book shop can leave you feeling a little apprehensive. The current reads appear to be dark, dystopian, and well, depressing. And as a genre they tend to be filled with paranormal fantasy, sci-fi, mythology and people with “out-of-this world” qualities… literally. Our young adults are living between the pages of the under-world, where a resetting of the brain, not to mention higher superior or automated beings running the show, are quite normal. This world is nothing like the world that they live in, and provides an escape from the reality and pressures of real life.
It is a mistake to think that young adults don’t enjoy reading, they definitely do… read on, read on.
Our Favourite Contemporary Teen/Young Adult Reads
I thought I could quickly compile a list of our favourite teen reads, but as I asked my kids which young adult books they had enjoyed the list literally exploded… so here are some of their faves right now, I am sure this list will grow…
- About Real Life: We loved this book… a very grumpy and elderly Frank Derrick has the young and inspired district nurse to thank for a whole new attitude and look at life. Such a great read.
- Sweet Love: Set in the 1920’s in Southern England… Four sisters grow up and come of age… these are just lovely through and through. Books you want to climb into and live alongside the characters…
- Reads like a Diary: This is the story of Liv, who is the younger responsible sister of a brother with Asperger’s Syndrome. If that isn’t enough it is their journey of her mom’s battle with cancer… it is sad you will need tissues… but so beautifully written through the eyes of an eleven year old. This is on my “teens must read this book list.”
- History: Don’t be put off by the title, and the first chapter is a little grim as it mentions heads rolling… but read on, read on… this is a book all about friendship… endearing and enduring, it is a fabulous read set in the time of Henry VIII.
- Historical Coming of Age: Well Michael Morpugo and you can’t go wrong… he slides just as easily into beautiful poignant teen reads as his books for younger readers. It is the story of a boy sent to Australia, just after World War II. Heart-wrenching, of course… and beautiful.
- Life Goes on in the Heart of War: When my kids were tiny we read all of Shirley Hughes “Alfie books” again and again and again… well this is her writing a teen read and it is exceptional. Set in Italy, during World War II… the resistance, the Italians and the Germans are the big picture… but the “smaller story” of thirteen year old Paolo on his bicycle and his aloof older sister, Constnaza’s first love. Very sweet… just a lovely read.
- War Stories: Sam Angus’ books are so beautifully written… we read them as family read-a-louds. My younger kids love them, but the teens really get them. The emotional stirring and the nuances of relationships during war time… these are gripping must reads and if your kids haven’t read them by high school then get them. The sort of books that take you through the highs and lows of life and leave you all the richer for it.
- Awesome Adventure: For the reader who is ready to lurch in to more exciting and just deeper adventure stories than the masses of series of adventure books written for kids… look no further, these books are it. Gripping, exciting, twisting, turning and heaps to learn, with heaps of fold outs and little bits and pieces hidden between the covers.
- Fantastical Reads: Francis Hardinge is right there in my kids’ top read list… the books use wonderful words, wonderful places, wonderful characters… everything is vibrant and intense, richer and well just more. Just the incredible imagination and the intense use of creativity will leave you turnig the pages faster and faster…
- A Mermaid Mystery Series: This series has just begun and you are going to have to wait for the rest of it. I never thought this topic would fly, let’s face it – a mermaid mystery sounds just a little bit twee… but this book was literally inhaled, and a very good read.
- Dystopian: In a not too futuristic culture where it is quite normal for a brain has been erased, Kyla has to relearn everything over again from scratch. Only she remembers snippets… and she just won’t back down… feisty must reads… could not put these down.
- Dragon Saga: If you haven’t read Eragon and the following saga… then book yourself off a weekend and dive in. Great fat books that you have to read in a sitting… compelling don’t begin to describe them. I have no words, other than read them!!!
- True Love in France: I read these books because I already followed the authors blog and loved her writing… Seriously you can’t go wrong with a love story in France, for older readers, but there isn’t anything untoward. There is a twist of course… the heroine is sweet and lovely and swept off her feet and the hero… a time traveller, from a long line of immortals who fight against good and evil through the ages and slip in and out of our reality with ease. These are just fun reads… with adventure for adventure seekers, with a spattering of history, and of course romance for the intrepid romantics.
- Survival: These books aren’t for everyone… but they are a fast and furious read. I read them myself to see what they hype was all about… a vicious, cruel world that the more sensitive reader might not want to venture into… but they are gripping. You so want Katniss to make it through all the trials and tribulations.
- Time Travel: Well spies and mystery and adventure… with time travelling thrown in and written by one of the most gripping young adult writers, clearly a series that is a winner.
- Spies, Spies, Spies: Anthony Horowitz is so good… you just can’t go wrong.
- Spies: Robert Muchamore and his teen spy series, Cherub… British Intelligence with “innocent” looking teens as the heroes… there are tons of these and the second series has begun…
- Reality TV: This book is about a reality tv show… it is also packed with heaps of issues that teens encounter, no such thing as a uncomplicated competitor. This isn’t for tweens and younger teens, a book that raises heaps of issues like eating disorders, self harm, drugs and so on, it is a good opener for lots of discussion. By Robert Muchamore has to be a pretty good read.
- And a Classic: Never forget the classics… really really great reading that has stood the test of time.
We could go on and on… one of those open ended posts that should be revisited and updated from time to time… because new books keep on getting published and new books continue to emerge as firm favourites. The point is, don’t discount the teen section of your local bookstore… it is packed with really good reads… linger a little, you are sure to find something brilliant that you won’t be able to put down.
Tags: Brilliant Books
October 14th, 2014 · 9 Comments
A Fabulous Fun Post… in the week, because I wrote it for the weekend and then we did our first ever Trail Run… and one of us may have spent the rest of the weekend in recovery. To be fair we had an absolute blast… Even I the most sedate (read terminally slow) had a fab time… It was beautiful, it was early, it was a day full of spring shine, and our gang is very inspired to run further, faster, frequently… Clearly I live with talented young mountain goats who can think of nothing better than throwing themselves up rocky mountains and then hurtling themselves down again.
In other news we have winners for our Rhino Competition and more GiveAways to follow… I have a question for our readers, the one’s that like to enter GiveAways… do you prefer rafflecopter GiveAways or plain old “leave a comment” GiveAways… I always lean towards things I am familiar with… So leave a comment fits the profile… but I really would like to know: Just pop a comment down below… if you prefer a RaffleCopter GiveAway or a plain old “Leave a Comment GiveAway.”
Here are some lovely links from this week:
- I don’t know where we have been but we have never heard of cronuts… but A Beautiful Mess has got that covered with their fantastic looming cronut recipe.
- When a Veteran teacher shadows two students for two days… fascinating stuff!!!
- Looking for inspiration on instagram, then follow BloesemKids and look out for her fabulous Instamom posts…
- This was an interesting read: Want to be Happy for the Rest of your Life? Have a Big, Cheap Wedding on the Federalist.
- Incredible: 40 years of Sisterhood…
- Here’s one traveling blogger whose story I am always compelled to read: Coast to Coast: Meeting A 78 Year Old Fell-Walker.
- I just loved this… What kids around the world eat for breakfast in the NYtimes.
And the se7en + 1th link:
- A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:
That’s us… Hope you are having a fabulous day…
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
For all our visits to the Two Oceans Aquarium, and there have been a few, we have never actually gone on an actual educational adventure there before. Recently we had the had the chance to join the aquarium for a class…
A heap of homeschoolers in a classroom, learning a couple of fishy facts and…
They very quickly moved on to learn about fish…
And then a little dissection lesson…
And they really enjoyed this!!!
Followed by a Tour
Almost everyone was intrigued…
So much to look at… and it was fabulous to hear the “behind the scene stories…”
So much to see…
We just love this place for exploring…
And shut your eyes if you don’t like snakes…
We have so many of these in our garden… but this one was super active and ours are always really slow and sluggardly…
Maybe because it had just shed its skin…
But my fave are still these guys…
You can see heaps of previous aquarium visits and activities if you follow this link.
Tags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot
October 11th, 2014 · 2 Comments
When I was asked to review Gareth Patterson’s Autobiography, My Lion’s Heart, I jumped at the task. In the last couple of years we have dedicated so much time to exploring our own local Nature Reserve, it has been such an adventure for all of us. However, like most South Africans we can only dream of seeing The Big Five one day. To be honest I was really excited to read about the life of someone who has dedicated their life to protecting wildlife and specifically lions. If you want to get to know Gareth Patterson then follow the link to his about page.
This first part of the book is really the story of his life growing up in Africa and I have to say that it took a while to read, because I kept having to tell whoever was sitting next to me about what I was reading. Anecdote after anecdote on every page. Crazy escapades, and wild adventures. I didn’t tell my kids that keeping collecting snakes was an actual event and boy did we laugh over the “python with piles” incident… who knew pythons even got piles. Needless to say it was a great read and while I was the reader, reporting back to the kids, it turned out to be great fun for all of us. Gareth Patterson did indeed have a fairly different and often remarkable childhood, that set him up for a very different life and nothing like the one most of us would dream of for our children.
Photograph supplied for this post by Gareth Patterson.
The Book is in four parts, and the middle two tell us of his journey through life, the trials and disappointments of conservation in Africa. This really is a book that needed to be written. So many wildlife books tell successful stories, this one not so much. It is fairly heart wrenching in places and apart from his life with the lions I shared a whole lot less with my kids. There is so much going on in conservation that really needs to be told, folk should hear about the struggle of environmentalists on the ground. I do believe that an educated public can do so much more to actually contribute towards conservation in a relevant way. This book will be an eye opener for a lot of readers. If you are even slightly interested in wildlife, especially in the African context, then this is a must read.
Photograph supplied for this post by Gareth Patterson.
Ever present throughout the book is his journey with the lions and what an incredible journey. Living amongst them and training his pack as a parent to them. Gareth Patterson truly does have a Lion’s Heart. The last section of the book flew by far too fast, there is a pretty crushing conclusion to his journey. On the one hand the ending is fairly devastating and on the other, this man is indeed a pioneer, he calls himself a wildlife warrior and he isn’t wrong. He uses his books to bring the message of conservation to the world at large. His writing is eloquent, and gripping, sensitive and emotional… it makes for a very good read. I for one am so grateful for his message and his ability to share his heart with his readers.
Author Interview With Gareth Patterson
In this interview we cover heaps in our Se7en + 1 Questions. You will find his reasons for writing, the writing process, his dream for conservation, even getting kids outdoors. Enjoy it…
- You grew up under an African sky and experienced things way beyond the imagination of most people. Did you always know that you would be a pioneer of animal conservation, one of the few in fact, or did you imagine you would be a writer… what was your dream as a child?
No, I did not know I would be a pioneer, but I knew that my heart was for the animals, especially for the lion. Regarding being a writer, since a child, I have always devoured books, especially about wildlife, and so writing my first book, Cry for the Lions, back in 1988, was a combination of my love of lions, my love of books, and seeing writing as a vehicle to create awareness for these animals.
- When you started your work there were a number of passionate and inspiring conservationists working in Africa, and now there are less than a handful… How do you think hands-on conservation will change in the future?
This is why I began My Lion’s Heart questioning (somewhat provocatively) whether there are any new wildlife warriors emerging. Happily I end the book mentioning that there are new warriors emerging. But we need many more! I think they will come. Regarding hands-on conservation in Africa, we have to acknowledge and revive African Environmentalism, the original environmentalism that existed (and still exists in ways) throughout this continent prior to colonialism and colonial conservation. This is why I have revived my Sekai African Environmentalism Group (www.sekaiafrica.com). ‘Conservation’ in Africa did not begin in Africa with the arrival of the white man. It is not recognised today, that going back thousands of years, African’s were the world’s first ‘environmentalists’.
- When you are out in the wild day in and day out, you are called to survive. Reading about your incredible escapes and close encounters of every kind, one has to wonder do you have a life skill you rank as the most essential?
It is said that a cat has nine lives. Recently I counted up how many lives I have used, and it is twelve or so! I do not think it is so much a ‘life skill’, but more of listening to the intuition that I have been very blessed with, and that when things happened, it was not my time to go. And that it was meant to be that I had still work to do in my life.
- You have written a number of books and by sharing your story you are bringing the plight of the wildlife of Africa to the people, literally. Which comes first the idea for a book as you begin a new assignment or does the book only emerge when you are some way into a project?
I think with each project there is a book in mind, because as previously mentioned, books are my vehicle, my voice, to attempt to create awareness.
- What is your writing process like? Do you keep journals as you go, or do you need a keyboard… do you start from an outline or do you hammer away and write your book from start to finish. How do you keep track of your ideas for your book as it grows?
Usually I kept daily diaries, and they are invaluable in the process of writing books like mine. The outline is in my head, then I write, and the book evolves.
- This book makes it very clear that there is a lot more to conservation than meets the eye… there is a whole socio-political angle to every conservation decision. And most often conservation, and the very animals in discussion, are the furthest thing from the agenda. This must be beyond frustrating for you… If you could change one thing in nature conservation right now, what would it be?
You are really correct about that. If I could change one thing, it would be to change the entrenched and dangerous apartheid conservation mindset in Southern Africa regarding wildlife, that ‘If it pays, it stays’. Instead, we seriously have to replace this with what the great naturalist/scientist/philosopher, George Schaller, once wrote:
‘We should not have to place a value on animals…we should be able to guarantee their freedom solely for their own sake, but man’s thinking has only just began to approach such a level of morality.’
- Childhood has recently warped, from your life of running around exploring in the great outdoors, to “planned, supervised time for outdoor activities…” It appears that while the environment is under such pressure future generations of potential environmentalists are being removed from the playing field before they even get going. Do you have suggestions for families that really want to make a difference?
‘Nature deprivation’ as it termed, can lead to many disorders in children. It is not always easy in these times, but parents (and themselves) must be aware of and promote what I believe is an inherent (though often smothered) wonder of nature in children. The same goes for the disease of loneliness that seriously plagues us in these modern times. For children, and for ourselves, we have to acknowledge and embrace that we are a part of everything around us. We are not alone.
And the se7en + 1th…
- Your work with the lions is far and away one of the most emotional roller-coasters one could ever read about, taking you to the highest highs and the lowest of lows, this is clearly not a job but a calling. When the going gets tough, it gets really tough and through grief and pain you have persevered. It seems crazy that in a world that claims to be so “for conservation,” that on the ground, the job is so hard. Is conservation in Africa a pithy idea or do you think something positive in wildlife conservation in Africa will emerge?
I am optimistic because never before (and in a big part, thanks to social media) in recent history has there been so much global awareness about environmental issues. Civil society has a voice today like never before, and it is vigorously demanding of government and big business that global environmental change must take place. Just this year alone, this was reflected massively by the global march for the lion, the global people’s climate march, and the global march for the rhino and elephant. And this I believe, will increasingly make a difference ‘on the ground.’
I was given the e-book to read and review, and to prepare for the author interview by Tracey McDonald Publishers. I was not paid to write this review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own. The photographs were given to me by Gareth Patterson to use in this post, if you want to see lots more photographs and read about is life… then head on over to Gareth Patterson’s Website. I could not have written this post without Tracey Mcdonald or Gareth Patterson, so thank you to both of you.
Tags: Brilliant Books