A Friday Fun Post… And GiveAway Winners. The season is, and I don’t want to say this, but changing. I feel a coolth in the air that wasn’t there two weeks ago. So for all those followers up north above the equator… there is hope for sunny days to come. I will calmly remain in denial regarding the weather and declare every possible day a beach day…
Here are some lovely links from this week:
- I have two cooking books sitting top of my list to have and to hold for the longest time, and this one just became number three: The Monday Morning Cooking Club on the Kitchn. Doesn’t it look fabulous, it looks like so much more than a cookbook, a whole story… I am going to have to get my hands on this!!!
- I love this post on Head Heart Hand: The Mysterious Miracle of Marriage.
- Love all this stunning household re-inventing on Kireei this week…
- Gotta ask why we have never made Sock Puppets before… HandMade Charlotte has a a whole collection this week.
- How stunning is this Coat Hanger Weaving on Artchoo.
- Oh The Many Things you Can do With Bamboo on Let the Children Play…
- Remember our Sketchbook Project… well it is going on tour, exciting times!!!
And the se7en + 1th link:
- A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:
Road Tripping South Africa
All the entries…
On the road…
And picking and choosing…
And the winner is:
Julia Feb 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm
Wow sounds awesome, please enter me.
Tales of Truth
All the entries…
Turned and Mixed…
And picking and choosing…
And the winner is:
Deb Feb 26, 2014 at 7:38 pm
These look so interesting & sure to grab the attention of my lot.
Congratulations to: Julia and Deb, expect an email from us shortly so that we can get your prizes to you as soon as possible.
We would like to thank MapStudio and Christian Book Discounters, who supplied us with the GiveAway books. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.
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 · GiveAways and Swaps
Today is World Book Day and so it seemed really appropriate to post about a load of books that we have been reading lately.
The Mother Person: The Dogs of Littlefield by Susan Byrne and published by Penguin Books.
I was looking for a quick and easy read and a novel set in “Littlefield” named as one of the ten best places to live in America… added with a bit of a mystery of “why do the neighbourhood” dogs keep on dying? Well this turned out not to be the quick mystery read set in suburbia that I was expecting – but it was a very intriguing read and I found myself sneaking off to the couch in quiet moments – to read just one more chapter. This book is really about the angst and anxiety that is exists in small town living… it is a peak behind all those charming white picket fences into the real lives, the worries, the warts and all of the local inhabitants. As you read along you realise that even the “best places to live” really do have their faults. The thread that runs through the tale, that keeps you reading on and on… why do the neighbourhood dogs keep on dying. Obviously somebody is poisoning them, and in particularly public places. What do these deaths mean, so many reasons present themselves. If it wasn’t for the distraction and intrigue of wanting to uncover the mystery of the poisoned dogs, I may well have found this book overwhelming – the characters certainly do walk around this book with an unusually high proportion of anxieties and paranoia’s. If you aren’t quite as serious as I am, you may well find it an amusing read, I found it a little dark – can people seriously be this anxious about everything. An interesting read, not what I was expecting at all but certainly worth reading on to find out what was going in the neighbourhood.
The Hoods Are Reading…
Hood #1: Roald Dahl’s Mischief and Mayhem illustrated by Quentin Blake and published by Penguin Books.
Our lover of all things Roald Dahl grabbed this book when it landed in the review book. It is a quick and easy read packed with the usual Dahl silliness, lots of it. This is an all ages kind of book, al my children will love reading it… Any Dahl fan would enjoy this – it contains short extracts from many of his children’s books and then some Dahlism’s to keep you on your toes. It is filled with clever pranks, and it is not called “Mischief and Mayhem” for nothing… for instance how to make “the hot chocolate that isn’t” just add, dare I say, a couple of gravy granules – euch. This is a Roald Dahl book that is packed with projects, tricks and things to figure out: “How to disguise yourself as a coconut tree.” Clearly a must read for all Dahl collectors.
Hood #2: Jony Ive the The Genius behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney and published by Penguin Books.
Well who doesn’t love a good biography and Jony Ive certainly has had an interesting life. I confess I read this book quickly before I handed it over, it is always good to check a biography before handing them over to my kids to read… and what an interesting person. One of those folk that genuinely think way out of the box, but more than that he was able create and implement his ideas in a way that other folk can’t. This book is series of tales collected together that demonstrate just how different his thinking is and how he has used his creativity, to build his design empire. This is a great read, you are not going to learn a lot about the man behind Jony Ive and you are going to learn less about the “magical” company of Apple. But you will learn a lot about creativity and transforming ideas into concepts and into actual products and a working business plan. You will learn a lot about his amazingly different design ideas and you will glean quite a bit about the ethos behind the “Apple Machine.” This was a great read and one I have noticed my teens going back to to read the odd sections again.
Hood #3: The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff and Published by Penguin Books South Africa.
A classic case of don’t judge a book by the cover… actually the title or the blurb. Have to say, none of my kids were keen to read this grizzly looking book. I couldn’t resist and gave it a try, and while the lead player is girl called Moss, in the time of Henry VIII, the book is definitely not about executions. The story is of course not about her role as the executioner’s daughter, there is so much more to it. The book has a grim start, her job is to catch the heads in her basket after an execution and of course you have to witness one execution to realise the whole social-outcastness of her situation… in order to see how desperate she is to escape it all. Then you move on to the true story a young gal, coming into her own… a mysterious past and her desire to get away as far and as fast from her life under The Tower… Anyway on my recommendation Hood #3, tried it and really couldn’t put it down… the story is intriguing, with real historical figures that pass through the pages. Amidst all the reality there is an old lady called the “Riverwitch.” Moss is living a dangerous life and she is rescued and called to rescue a young lad, Salter. They become friends indeed and depend on each other. This book has a bit of everything… Royalty, mystery, a life that appears to belong in a fairytale and ultimately friendship. It is the the friendship that keeps you reading on… you want to see what happens to Moss and Salter so you keep on turning the pages.
Hood #4: Artemis Fowl the Eternity Code Graphic Novel, by Eoin Colfer and published by Penguin Books South Africa.
A natural mistake that folk often make is that Graphic Novels are a “dumbing down” of the real thing – they are nothing like that. They do make books accessible to my middle boys that they would be daunted to read as full novels. Artemis Fowl really need no introduction in the world of children’s fiction… my boys have loved reading through his antics. I have to say that I found myself wandering through this book, saying just one more page while Hood #4 waited his turn to read. It is funny, but serious, the characters are all larger than life – the baddies are bad and the goodies are well… not that good. The book opens with the not so humble Artemis saying, “My name is Artemis Fowl, and I am a genius.” Artemis is a boy armed with power and money and a string of fairly bizarre friends from fairies to dwarves… this is fast paced, action filled fun and my guys loved reading this.
Hood #5: You Wouldn’t Want to Be Married to Henry VIII by Fiona MacDonald).
Hood #5 has recently discovered biographies in the children’s history reference section of our library… and for the first time ever, apart from years of reading cook books, he has become quite lost… reading his way through famous person after famous person and often a not so famous person too. He has loved this series of books. There is a stream of “You wouldn’t want to be…” books. The illustrations are funny, so are the words and a whole lot of information is passed on through little snippets and factual bites. These books are pitched at just the right reading level, not to mention amusement level, of an emerging reader and I can see piles of facts being stored in his general knowledge repertoire… just waiting for a gap in meal-time conversation.
Hood #6: The Giraffe and the Pelly and ME by Roald Dahl and published by Penguin Books South Africa.
This book is not a new one, just a lovely classic repackaged and I am so happy to share with our newest readers… and yes we are thrilled to have another Roald Dahl fan in the family. The book is typical Dahl: a lovely story, overrun with a sense of “what is right,” and well-presented in layers of fantastically described candy. Billy and his three window cleaning friends just happen upon a robber, while cleaning the windows of the Duke of Hampshire… the Duke of course offers a fantastic reward and all their dreams come true… what could be better in a story written for young people but enjoyed by everyone.
Hood #7: Jody’s Beans by Malachy Doyle.
Another book that has been well received in our weekly pile of library books is the story of Jody’s Beans. A little girl is presented with some bean seed by her Grandfather and together they plant a circle of beans… as the seasons spin around so her beans become a bean Teepee. The illustrations are beautiful, the kind of artwork that makes you feel that you are literarily part of the book. This book is nothing short of inspiring and I can see that we are going to have to find space for a bean teepee in our garden.
And the se7en + 1th Books:
Hood #8: I Do Not Eat the Colour Green by Lynn Richards.
We borrowed this book from the library and we have read our way through it about ten million bazillion times. It is the delightful story, all written in rhyme, about a little girl, Marlene McKean… who will, of course, not eat the colour green. I have a feeling our littlest person loved this book so much because he had a really close affinity to the main character. A series of inevitable events does indeed lead her to try something green and she loves it… A story very close to “someone we know’s” true life experience!!!
We would really like to thank Penguin Books South Africa for providing us with a number of books to review for this post. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!
Tags: What We Are Reading
In the fast paced world of got-to-do-everything-now” and “got-to-do-everything-right” I have been a slacker… I have been raising my kids full time for the longest time, and dare I say love it… but let’s face I haven’t you been achieving all those lofty goals of se7en hours sleep a night, 2 litres of water, daily journaling, not to mention finding your inner peace and well exercise has flown out the door. Not that I like that. I enjoy being fit – but to be honest it is really hard to get out the door when you are raising eight kids. Not that I am raising them alone, but let’s be honest the other half of the parenting team is at work earning the cash to run our proverbial ship. So I am home alone most of the time with eight kids, that’s the reality. We have finally gotten to an age where everyone is up and able to go a fare distance on a walk… but remember these are little people and there is a lot more stop than go!!! So exercise is really hard to come by. And if I do commit to going out before the father person leaves for work then breakfast is a disaster and at the end of the day – lets redefine suicide hour if the mother person is not home.
Time is not the Factor
So it looks like time is the scary factor that draws me away from good and consistent exercise… but it isn’t. I would happily turn our routine into chaos to get some fitness in, especially as the routine will re-adjust quickly enough. Of course, I have no confidence in this old body of mine… which is crazy really. My body got me through eight pregnancies well, and extended nursing. But still I have no confidence in what my body can or can’t do. I know I can’t do sit-ups, there are no stomach muscles at all – it is not about mind-over-matter, though I always thought it was (!), there is just no connection between my brain and some of my unwilling muscles. It looks like trust could be a problem, I don’t really know what my body can achieve, exercise-wise anymore…
Ability is not the Factor
You all know how awful I am at shopping and years ago I wrote about how hard it was to find a bathing costume to fit my then pregnant body – well I am still wearing the same costume. What can I say, it is hard to find good gear. It doesn’t help that the last time I went swimming at gym there was a mom next to me with her five and six year old boys, (why oh why do they get to be in the ladies change room – I have no idea… frankly if they are old enough to be in school then they are old enough to dress themselves and ought not be in the ladies change room) but when the young lad said, “Mom please don’t make me change next to the fat lady…” well that was the end of my swimming career.
Confidence is not the Factor
But never fear I know I must exercise and while I no longer want to achieve great things and the reality is I will never play tennis at Wimbledon or most likely do a triathlon again (don’t laugh in my head I would love too) the reality is that where do you find the gear. This is what I don’t get… if all the overweight people in the world, and there are lots of them… and I am one of them… and the message is get some exercise, get out there, just do it… Then why is there no gear available to them. This smacks of a similar clothing conspiracy that I wrote about earlier, where folk don’t want to dress their daughters scandalously – but the clothing industry doesn’t provide sweet and fun clothes for young girls (that’s a whole ‘nother story). My point is, eight kids later and years of nursing – my body deserves an award for getting through that and at least a daily dose of exercise – but where do you find the gear?
So right – no swimming and I definitely don’t think I want to do a class at gym – I no longer have stomach muscles to mention and there is always that terrifying mat work… not to mention there is the wobble factor. I need some really fine foundation wear. I took myself off to a large and leading sport store armed with cash… honestly I felt like Julia Roberts on her shopping spree in Pretty Women (not a good feeling). I have the money folks and I would love to shop… but the only gym gear in store would just and I mean only just, fit my twelve year old. Let’s not totally freak out that there is nothing to wear, I took a look at the staff to see what they were wearing… As one does. Normal sized gals in sporty kit, serving in a sport store: Let’s be rational where do they buy their clothes? They don’t shop in their own store, colour me so surprised. In fact they really battle to find gear and if they find something that fits they grab it, wherever they are. So there you go, regular size gals are not shopping in South African sport stores… in fact in their own words: “These clothes are for the athletic girls.”
Hello, so women who are larger than size 12 say, cannot be athletic. Would the clothing industry take a look at the size and shape of the real live women that are taking part in Sport’s events. These women loyally pound the pavement getting in shape and they may not be super athletes, but they are athletic.
Getting back to folk that are larger than regular… I tried to be undaunted, I phoned one of those super-size stores – you know the ones, where even a sock costs more than a down-payment on a house (yikes – clearly exercise is only for the wealthy – that is the message I am getting). I phoned and asked if they have my size (not that I know my exact size, but certainly larger than the regular store size 12) only to hear, “I don’t think they make sturdy underwear in that size.” Hello, let me say it again – I nursed eight kids through toddlerdom, I have a cleavage that I keep well hidden under baggy t-shirts, but definitely there is no chance of me doing a “couch to 5k program” without some really firm support. I am certainly not going blame my body, or myself for a retail indystry that isn’t serving the market it claims to serve. I know what I need, the mystery is just how to get it.
Frankly, my body has done me well through many ups and downs and ins and outs (literally) and I am not about to say – my body is a total failure – just because I can not find the right size or supportive gear. Honestly I don’t want spend a fortune on athletic gear. I have discovered that a leading grocery store that has an associated clothing store does have gym gear in my size – it is marketed as yoga gear… which means as long as I don’t run, jump or chase a child, everything will be fine. Slow movements folk… slow… slower still. So in my year for getting back into some sort of marginal shape… I am sleeping better, I am eating better, I am drinking water… and taking a break and getting a more or less daily amble. But that folks is as energetic as it is going to get… And until I find real gear for real people at real prices… I am stuck in the rut of a daily amble.
Tags: Organizing Se7en · Thoughtful Thursdays
Just this week Random House celebrated fifty years of Harriet the Spy. Harriet the Spy was life changing for me, in every way. In fact I think I may have been more than just best friends with Harriet. I grew up in an era where girls did not wear jeans. I astonished our family by being a girl child who was not happy in a pinafore and so was doomed to wear nylon corduroy trousers – this was the era of polarnecks folks. I like to think that “fashion of the day” knew no better. Harriet rescued me, here was a girl that wore jeans and a hoodie and sneakers. Overnight I wore jeans, a hoodie and sneakers… and all was well with my world.
I can go on… I never ate sandwiches ever, or tomatoes for that matter – but because of Harriet I ate tomato sandwiches for school lunch for months, if not years. Because of Harriet, I kept a journal, and I filled it full of wildly interesting facts about the neighbours and people watching became a favourite past time. If it wasn’t for Harriet I may never have discovered jeans, eaten tomatoes or started a journal and all those things are such a part of my life today. Also, without Harriet I probably wouldn’t have sneaked into the neighbours house and hidden under their coffee table… and written down a list of the books they had lying on it… as one does.
The point of this post is not necessarily to rapture on about Harriet the Spy and the benefits of wearing Jeans – but the point of this post is that books can be life-changing. And not just for children. Right now we are trying to create a library for a community of children that have no books worth mentioning… For me the problem is not so much that they don’t have books but the fact that they don’t have book friends that can transport them into another world or rescue them from a bad day. There are no Harriets for these children… and no Laura’s to teach them about living in the Wilds. No Anne’s to keep them laughing, with her classroom antics. Honestly I can’t imagine a life without Tom painting a fence. It isn’t just the childhood friends, even wise adults had a huge impact on my life – can you imagine not gleaning the wisdom of Atticus Finch.
I cannot conceive how difficult it must be for adults with low literacy to survive in the world… Shopping, filling in bank forms, finding your way on a map… must be close to impossible. We all know that there is more to it than that – a life without the rich friendships that we find within the pages of a book is really difficult to grasp.
And on that note… we are halfway – already, through our month of creating a community library… We really need your help… This is a dream of ours to provide books to children around our country, who would otherwise not have access to books at all. We have done it before with the help of all of our readers and we are hoping you would like to join us again. If you want to know more about the library that we are gathering books for then follow the link.
How Can You Help?
Step 1: Select a Book or Books
- You can search through your books for gently used books that your children have outgrown or no longer love.
- You can buy a book or two with your children and package them up.
- You can shop at Amazon and ship directly.
- And you can shop on-line, locally at Loot, and ship directly as well.
While all the students do learn English, it is not their first language. Most of the learners have Afrikaans as their first language and about twenty percent of them have Xhosa as their first language. Do not let language hold you back, they do learn English in school. English books are welcome, so are books in Afrikaans and Xhosa. Any books will be great, story books, picture books, craft books, cook books, reference books… really any books. There is a large community being served here. If you are shopping overseas and would like to buy local language books then click on the South African vendor to find books and they will deliver locally for you.
Leave a comment or contact us
for the address to send the books you have chosen. There is a human person behind each and every email (that would be me) and they take time… please be patient the address will get to you as soon as I can.
Step 3: Let us Know All About the Books You Chose
We would love if you could photograph the books you are sending, if you shop on-line then just send us a list of the books that you ordered. If you have a blog and write about it then let us know and we will have a Progress Post each week. I will pop the photo’s you send into the post and if you do have a blog there will be a chance for you to link up as well…
We are so excited about this project and we really hope that our readers seize the day and join us… it doesn’t have to be huge… if even one percent of our readers pop a book into an envelope and post it off… we will have a library!!! So here’s to hoping that we hear from you all really soon… leave a comment saying you would like to join us, contact us… Please share this post… whatever you need to do… we would so love to hear from you!!!
We know that a project with a deadline often works better so could we aim to get our books in the mail around the middle of March. That gives you a couple of weeks to choose a book or two and post them on…
Disclosure: The Amazon and Loot links are affiliate links and our blog will earn a very small percentage of the book sales made there, we pledge to put any of our earnings from books for the school directly back into buying more books for them… this is their project and we don’t in any way want to gain financially from it.
Tags: Blog Events · What We Are Reading
Time for a Friday Fun Post… on a Sunday – but what a totally relaxed weekend we had. I have a heap of blog posts, written up and good to go this week, just can’t wait. Meanwhile, in some parts of the world it is already Monday and while you are figuring that out… Today is the last day to enter our current GiveAways… Click on the image to find out more… we would love you to stand a chance of winning:
Here are some lovely links from this week:
- I have always wanted to travel to Morocco and an instagram friend, Jill in Italy, just spent a week there… loveliness!!!
- Would you look at this cuteness, spotted on Kireei
- I just love these Softies on Brichopas About Toys.
- Take a look at this fun knitting site: Sheep and Stitch… Gotta love the knitting map, this may be the year that my kids get the knitting bug!!!
- Museum to Marine Debris on the Huffington Post… this is incredible.
- The Problogger just launched Beginner Blogger Week… follow along, I can already see it is going to be all kinds of awesome – for all of us, not just beginner bloggers. And ticket sales area just out for the Problogger Event… if you are in Australia or going to be at the time of the event – then this is a must get there anyway anyhow event. This is by far my favourite annual blogging event and I have never actually attended… a girl can dream!!! And I do so love reporting, here is my coverage of last years event.
- I love how this mom gets it just right, so many times: We Are that Family… I think we May be Missing Something Very Important.
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
March is here!!! Really!!! And as promised here is your March printable calendar. You are welcome to print it out, use the landscape option, it works better!!! Click on the image and it will open in a new tab. Print it out and write the days you would like to celebrate on it then pop it onto the fridge as a reminder…
Here you go – a whole heap of March Celebrations to choose from… If you have some celebrations you would like to add feel free to add them as a comment…
Tags: Celebrity Calendar
February 27th, 2014 · 8 Comments
So Saturday rose bright and glorious and it was the day of The SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba – “Teaching good blogging ethics, writing skills, social media, SEO skills, food styling, photography and wine knowledge.”
Think an entire day to learning more about blogging and add fine food and friends and you will have a good idea of exactly what went on… but I thought I would share the details, so that next time this lands on the calendar you won’t be able to help yourself – you will just have to join in.
So on an extremely blustery Saturday I headed for the city and straight away got chatting with so many friends that I met at the last Food Blogger Indaba… and that folks is why blogger conferences and meet ups are the best thing for on earth for your blogging, you make friends… you meet the bloggers behind the screens. You discover new work that inspires you and you have to follow – you become fans of new friends and in turn you will discover new followers of your work and there is nothing like a real live supporter to encourage the blogging that you do.
Just have to say that this stunning cake was made by IcingbyDesign
Se7en + 1 Events at The Food Blogger Indaba
- Panel Discussion: Working with Brands, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
On the panel were: Fritz Brand from Real Men Can Cook, Thuli Gogela from Mzansi Style Cuisine and Jane-Anne Hobbs from Scrumptious.
The question was not so much “If bloggers and brands should work together?” Since they do… but more about the ethics of working together. The key is to know your readers, and to be aware, or beware of PR drops that “spray and pray” as a blogger you will lose your uniqueness if everyone is blogging about the same thing. They all felt that bloggers should charge for their brand related work as a it indicates that their work is worthy. And the key point was: Should a blogger disclose that they are working with a brand – and I have to say, why on earth wouldn’t they? My readers are intelligent enough to know when I am working with a brand and any brand would just get a little more milage if I then disclose it. It was a very interesting discussion, folks are really opinionated about this – even I am!!!
- Introduction to SEO for bloggers by Neil Pursey of WebGrowth:
Well SEO is not exactly something I think about too much it just feels a bit to me like a lot of jargon being tossed around and really I love my readers – the more the merrier, but I am so happy with the ones I have. Enter great big words: keyword clouds and even buckets of keywords… and social media tracking – really interesting stuff. Anyway he had a whole lot to say and he said it fast, my pen was literally blazing across the page. And he very kindly put together a post full of all his tips, his talk and a whole lot more. I think the biggest epiphany for me was, and it may be slightly off topic, but why have I never thought of looking for a recipe card plugin… so that is my next project… just making recipes easier for our readers to read sounds like a totally fab idea to me.
- How to be Likeable: Social Media Strategy and Community Building by Marina Pape of Yuppie Chef.
And on to Yuppie Chef and you know how we love and adore Yuppie Chef, it was brilliant to get a look behind the scenes at the inner workings of one of South Africa’s favourite brands. First things first and why they are so likeable: Sales are not at the heart of their strategy, they are always sitting around the table and thinking: How can they enrich lives, how can they add value… They claim to have had lucky beginnings – being in the right place at the right time – early adopters can’t break the rules, they have to create them. This you have to love… and think of it in terms of your own blog, or brand: “If Yuppie Chef were a person, who would they be?” what movies would they enjoy, what holidays would they celebrate, what stuff would they love… I have often created a mental image and a detailed one at that about what our readers look like… but it is interesting to turn it around and say: “What does our brand look like?”
Otherwise they consider their brand a community… if folk come over for a tea party, they aren’t just coming over for the cake. They are hoping for genuine and transparent friendship… and always top of their minds delivering great content without a hidden agenda, after all nobody wants to come over for dinner and discover that they are now part of a pyramid scheme. The top tip was consider your platforms – and for us that would be twitter, instagram and pinterest… and don’t sink all your material to each one – because their will always be super fans (oh please can we be yuppie chef super fans) who are following on every platform and you will bore them to death and chase them away. Very good point!!! And another pearl of wisdom, that tons of brands should be listening for: Offering freebies doesn’t win dedicated fans for your brand… they do bring fly-by-night folk who like to win freebies – that is a good point. Remember your followers are smart and treat them with integrity.
- The Meaning behind Google Analytics by Iaan Van Niekerk of PlusPlusMinus.
This was such a good presentation – who thought google analytics could be fun and engaging!!! Really dry old stats be gone… clearly our speaker loves what he is doing and was very good at bringing the topic to us. He started his talk by asking a couple of leading questions and they helped him to direct his talk towards his audience… you have see where this is going… what questions you should ask of your google analytics in order to direct your blog posts and strategy towards your readers. Here is a top tip: if you don’t know the meaning of one of a word on your google analytics page then google it – someone, somewhere will have written about it and explained it. Otherwise use your analytics to find out where your readers are coming from and what they are looking for. If you find that someone is sending you traffic, then head over and personally say thank-you, it is the right thing to do. Your blog is really all about the people you serve, learn from your stats, even test your stats and then use those results to serve your readers more of what they are after. Loved this talk, it gave me a totally new enthusiasm for looking at my google analytics and how they could be useful… rather than numbers on a screen that I watch scrolling by.
- Panel Discussion: From Blog to Book:
On the Panel were: Sam Linsell of Drizzle and Dip, Ilse Van Der Merve of The Food Fox and Jane-Anne Hobbs from Scrumptious.
Here was an interesting Panel discussion – it is no secret that I would love to write a book one day, not that I am a writer, but the thought of holding a real live book. So of course I wanted to learn more… turns out they have all used their blogs as a platform to get somewhere else – two have published books and one is hoping to head into television – interesting times. They all said that if you are going into food blogging for money then think again but if you are using your blog to launch your brand then carry right on. Sam Linsell self-published her own book, and it is a beautiful book… she learnt so much, an incredible learning curve… and she just wouldn’t recommend that as the route to go… it was really hard work. Jane-Anne Hobbs has published her book through a publisher and her royalties remain fairly small… simply because the volume of South African readers is fairly small – 10 000 buyers is a best seller in our country. And then, and this makes sense… just like all your media platforms… your book audience and your blog audience are totally different – ha, never thought of that. (Note to self: I have grown a blog audience that will most likely not read the book I write – whatever I write about – gasp… then again, I read tons of books written by my blog friends so there is something to think about…). Another interesting point is that when you sell a cookbook you are selling a lifestyle, most people only try one recipe – what have I been doing all these years… we always try at least se7en+1 recipes!!! Clearly I need to change a few lifestyle habits of our own over here!!!
- A Creative Writing Workshop by Jane-Anne Hobbs from Scrumptious.
With a view to that eventual book… and I know my writing skills are close to zero, I am definitely a blogger and not a writer, I was really quite excited to see a creative writing workshop on the cards. It was very hands on and practical and a whole lot of fun. You would be amazed at the writing skills of folk sitting around you – amazed, at a writing workshop. I wasn’t intimidated so much as awed by their skills, and clearly I need to do a lot of practicing before I even think about a whole book. I loved her writing exercises and I think I will have a lot of fun with them with my kids: take a word and write about it for four minutes. I tell you the truth… you work a lot harder on what you are writing when you might be sprung on to read it out to a class of folk you don’t know than when you are idly writing in your journal. She had a lot of fab tips on getting your writing going and keeping going and I think I am going to be adding a lot more fun creative writing assignments to our typical school weeks. Honestly I just loved how she spoke, her words were richer than mine and I enjoyed it: “Avoid cliches, find vivid, interesting, startling word combinations…” Yes, I loved this workshop, it inspired me more than I could ever have predicted, if nothing else comes of it she has got me back into messing around with words and writing a little something in my journal everyday.
- Light Up Your Life: Tips and Tricks to Light Up Your Food Photography by Carmen DaVila:
Well this was an interesting presentation… simply because as you all know my photography skills are somewhat limited… but here is a little secret… I took a mini blog break over the holidays and discovered a whole lot of free and wonderful resources for learning more about photography, but that is a whole ‘nother blog post. Meanwhile, she confirmed what I have learnt about painting with light… She showed us heaps of scenarios where she had just experimented and pushed the extremes… a photograph in front of a window and without. A photograph with a reflector and without… her “lighting gone totally wrong scenarios” were probably the best teachers ever… and yes it is quite possible to learn from other folks mistakes… even if the mistakes were totally on purpose. She went on and explained a little bit about editing using photoshop… and again I liked her extreme examples. I always fiddle – a little to the left or right… and she was: what happens if you turn this feature off and on again and off… great way to learn. I definitely have a whole lot of new things to try – that’s what I love about blogging, there is always so much to learn!!! And then if you want to see something totally cool then head over to her website to see how to make a DIY reflector, and I love and adore her cheat sheet, that you can download for free.
And the Se7en + 1th…
- On to the Auction and the Incredible and Famous Goodie Bag:
And after that long day of fun and excitement we headed for the auction, where money raised was donated to the South African Guide Dog Association for the Blind. Well there were the most fantastic products on auction and heaps of fantastic GiveAways thrown in… they managed to raise R30000.00, which is a phenomenal amount and I was thrilled to be a very small part of it. And if that wasn’t enough there is always a galaticaly huge goodie bag – full of fantastic sponsored gifts… from heaps of different brands. Packed with lots of ideas and places we would like to visit… lots of brands we would like to meet and chat about their products… it is all good. If I list them all, I am bound to omit someone important… but I have to say there is a VISI magazine that I totally intend to spend Friday evening with. Not to mention wine farms to visit – we haven’t really touched on that on our blog yet, and how about a trip to the Spice Route… sounds simply amazing!!! And I think we may well have to make a visit to Cecilia’s farm one day – anyone who makes the sweetest dried apricots on earth deserves a visit from the gang. Treats galore and we will be enjoying them for a good while to come…
So that was this year’s SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba – “Teaching good blogging ethics, writing skills, social media, SEO skills, food styling, photography and wine knowledge,” and hopefully there will be many more to come. You can follow them on twitter, and there is a Pinterest board over here as well.
I really want to thank the organisers, Colleen Grove and Jeanne Horak-Druiff for organising and co-ordinating this fabulous event again. And thank you especially to Colleen for once again sponsoring my ticket – I really can’t thank you enough.
Tags: Cook Book Reviews · Monday Munchies