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

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The Launch of International Book Giving Day for 2015…

December 11th, 2014 · 6 Comments

I know it is still 2014, but as you know we love a good cause and we love reading best of all… So International Book Giving Day falls on the 14 February every year and the 2015 event launches today. So I absolutely had to post this book news right here and right now…

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World Book giving Day is an international event… every year on 14 February. The act of giving a book, is as easy as leaving a book on the bus for someone to find, or wrapping up a firm favourite and delivering it to a friend. I firmly believe that book by book we can create libraries for children all over the world, even in the most remote spots. Together with our readers we have been able to create a few libraries,over the years, just by asking our readers to contribute one or two books at a time. We have a fantastic following, always eager to join in…. and with their help we have managed to make a difference.

Here’s a peak at our previous Book Giving Day Projects:

2014 – A Library in Community Centre.


2013 – A Library for a Township Community


2012 – A Library for a Rural Village in Lesotho

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We so look forward to launching our 2015 project and just to inspire you, we have a number of very bookish posts to post over the next few days… Meanwhile, pop over to the International Book Giving Day site to Print out that cute poster… and keep up to date with the latest and greatest events all over the world.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s Natural Treasure Advent Calendar Week 1…

December 9th, 2014 · 4 Comments

A week of Advent has passed us by… so far our Christmas preparations have amounted to… making a list of things that we might do; traditions we want to keep up and folk we would love to have over; gifts we can create for friends without actually shopping… because much as we love gifting, shopping is not our first love; and well blogging… lots of half written blog posts, and every time I have sat down to finish a post the lights have gone out. Literally. Honestly, I am not complaining, power outages really do stop us in our first world tracks. Instead we are forced to take afternoon naps and have bedtime stories by torchlight. And of course it is December, so a boardgame a day… as we do. Clearly my gang have priorities for the month of December: boardgames and books and an unforgettable Christmas celebration thrown into the mix. Sounds perfect to me, and I am happy to go with the flow.

Our Tree So Far…

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I imagine our little drift would tree will be exploding with natural treasures by the time we reach the 24th December… and for those of you that don’t follow along on instagram (hello mom!!!) I thought I would post an update of our Advent tree…

From the Beginning

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We began with a plain, driftwood tree… hung up in the courtyard, and every day we search for a natural treasure to add to it. We have heaps around the house, of course, I live with collectors… and little treasures do sneak home after almost every walk.

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That’s us… Wishing you all the best week ahead…

→ 4 CommentsTags: Holiday Crafts · Sunday Snippet

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #256 And GiveAway Winners…

December 7th, 2014 · 6 Comments

Well that was a busy week… as the end of the year dashes towards us, end of year events and hanging out with friends tend to pile up, before folk head out on vacation. We seem to have emerged quite happily and a day at Cape Point always helps!!!

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Book Review of the Week

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica Mcinnerney published by Penguin Books: Sometimes a mother person needs to take a break and read a book for herself, not about homeschooling or parenting, not to the kids or for the kids… well this has been that book for me. It is a family drama of the “normal old family kind” so no murder or mayhem, just a regular family with mostly grown up kids and their mostly grown up lives, except when they dash home to their parents. The book is a book about the mom in the Gillespie family, who has the role of cheery annual Christmas letter writer. In one of those moments of mothering clarity, as she settles down to write about the usual trivialities… to present the picture of perfectness, she takes a moment to first empty her thoughts into a document, she writes and writes about all the things that are bothering her. Of course assumptions are made, frustrations are vented and secrets revealed… but nobody was meant to read it.

She rushes off to a family emergency and her husband does her a favour, without glancing at the mail, he hits “send” to almost everyone they know. Family life rolls on. It is days before the repercussions start to erupt… some folk are very understanding, and rally round to help; others not so much. Things start to unravel first a little here and then a little there… and it appears that this motley crew, held together by their stoic mother person, are in for a bit of a ride. And then there is an event, something bigger than a family newsletter…

This story is easy reading, the author creates a picture of life in the Australian outback. It is about an ordinary and less than noble family, living their lives and making mistakes. This is not a life-changing read, you aren’t going to live differently because of it… but if you need an afternoon off or you are looking for a good, easy holiday read, then this would be a great pick. I really enjoyed the read, and I am definitely going to look out for more from this author.

We were given this book by Penguin Books South Africa for review purposes, we were not paid to write this review and the opinions expressed are as usual my own.


Lovely Links

  1. Oh I love these crafty creations: Rosie made a thing, spotted on Kireei.
  2. During the crazy shopping season, if you just can’t stay out of the store then you might want to read this: 10 Subliminal Retail Tricks You’re Probably Falling For.
  3. For our book lover friends: 10 Facts about Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona” Books.
  4. For the wild and fun advent calendars posted. I liked this one the best…Poppy Talk… DIY in a Jar…
  5. Head Heart Hand posted these 20 Reading tips for students, anyone really.
  6. How pretty are theseDried Citrus Ornaments… on A Beautiful Mess. I think we are going to try them.
  7. From the mother person who firmly believes, that if you have to do Christmas shopping, there is always the Hardware Store. I really liked: Alisa Burke’s Post on GiftWrapping…
  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:

GiveAway Winners

Justin Bonello’s Cooked in the Karroo

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All the entries…

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And muddled together…

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And the winner is:
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Cat Nov 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm
Oh my word – salted caramel popcorn – need to get that recipe. I have long long wanted to go to Sutherland and visit the telescopes and see all that. We love the Karoo and am spending a night in the Karoo when going down to PE in December.

MapStudio’s Fabulous Factual GiveAway

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All the entries… this GiveAway has two winners… a local and a worldwide GiveAway…

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Mixed and picked…
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Alesha: Nov 26, 2014 at 10:14 pm
I am reading your blog from Ragley, Louisiana in the USA. I have followed your blog for a couple of years now when I found it through one of the posts on Sonlight’s blog. Love your entries. You blog about the most interesting things. Would love to win this book and share with my children.:
Mrs FF. Nov 30, 2014 at 9:57 pm
Reading from centurion South Africa. This looks like such an educative and interesting book

Congratulations to: Cat, Alesha and Mrs FF, expect an email from us shortly so that we can get your prizes to you as soon as possible.

We would like to thank Penguin Books South Africa and MapStudio who supplied us with the GiveAway books. We were not paid for the reviews 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…

→ 6 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Sylvia Earle and Ocean Conservation, What an Inspiration…

December 6th, 2014 · 2 Comments

I am all for inspiring my kids to think big, by doing small… I look for every opportunity to inspire them. We live beside the sea, and from surfing to science degrees, the ocean has always been a part of my life. For the next ten days Sylvia Earle will be in South Africa, and we went to hear her speak. Sylvia Earle is a world renowned advocate for the ocean… apart from being a marine biologist and conservationist, she is a mum and grandmother. She is a National Geographic Explorer and Time Magazine’s first Hero of the Planet. All her titles and achievements make her sound so frightfully out of reach, and yet she was so delightfully normal. To hear someone, one person, who thinks big… who believes that we can all make a huge difference, just by doing something, is truly an inspiration.

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The earth is called the Blue Planet for a reason. When you look at it from outer space it is blue, as Sylvia Earle says, without the ocean our planet would be lifeless and look a lot more like Mars. In an era where scientists were men and astronauts were exploring that “final frontier,” Sylvia Earle was defining the oceanographic frontier and introducing women scientists as aquanauts… Astronauts were discovering how high was the sky, while she was exploring the ocean depths. Not only was her contribution to science important but her work changed attitudes wherever she went. When she began her work as a scientist she changed perceptions of what women could achieve, for example she carried her own equipment (!), years later when I studied science the impact of pioneering scientists was apparent… while I was the only gal in my class at university for many years, no-one believed for a minute that I couldn’t do the work because I was a woman. By the time our daughters reach university age they won’t ever even consider that there was any doubt that they can study whatever they want too… simply because forty five years ago, pioneers like Sylvia Earle weren’t afraid to “buck the system” and did what they were called to do. In that one small way, she may well have changed the face of ocean science and opened doors to many great thinkers for generations to come. But that isn’t exactly what she is all about…

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She is all about the ocean and conservation. If you want to be inspired then watch her incredible Ted Talk. In 2009 Sylvia Earle gave a TED talk, and her wish, “big enough to change the world” was…

“I wish you would use all means at your disposal – films, the web, expeditions, new submarines, a campaign – to ignite public support for a network of global marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.”

She is constantly reminding us that it is time to start protecting the oceans, nothing else matters, without the oceans we cannot survive. Her TED talk was a winner… you want to watch it. She is an excellent speaker. As a result of her astonishing work and her TED talk win, the movie Mission Blue has recently launched on NetFlix. What began, for her as a student and a two week stint of living on the ocean floor became a passion. When she says she speaks for the fish because they can not speak, she means it. And you had better believe it, we should all be listening. As she shows a clip on industrial fisherman removing their catch of the day, a net full of slippery silvery fish, she is able to relate: “There goes a slice of the food chain.” There is no point in saving the whale unless we are saving everything. If for example, we removed parts of our own body, it would eventually just stop working – and yet we continue to take from sea as if it is an unlimited resource. As she says, what we don’t know about we don’t care about, and forty years ago they knew nearly nothing about the ocean… but that has all changed. We do know what we are doing and we do know what damage we are doing… now more than ever we are equipped with the knowledge to make real and lasting changes.

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Image credit: Mission Blue Website

Conservation is critical, not just for land based eco-systems. We get that we need to protect our wild life, our rhinos and elephants, our lions and tigers… it is time that “we get” that we need to conserve the oceans too. Currently 3% of the world’s oceans are protected as apposed to 14% of land areas. The ambition is that 30 % of the world’s oceans will be protected by 2030. If you consider the area of the ocean around our nation it is as we have a whole ‘nother country on board. So what exactly can we do: learn, support, meet, and participate. Sylvia Earle and folk from all walks of life and all over the world are creating Hope Spots, where Hope Spots are areas of our oceans that have been declared conservation areas… protected areas, free from industrial fishing and critical to the well being of our ocean. You can find out more about Hope Spots. In fact we have one practically in our back yard.

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Our favourite part of her presentation was when she took us under the sea in a human sized pod, more than 1000m deep, and she showed us the ocean floor where she had spent two and a half hours exploring. I tell you she is not a National Geographic Explorer for nothing… And when she turned the lights off, to discover complete darkness… she was taken by surprise and encountered a glittering and sparkling world of luminescence, creatures of all shapes and sizes, glowing in the dark. Magical – I think so, the Aurora Borealis of the ocean deep. I for one want my grand children to see that, I want our oceans to be around for them. Attending talks like these, getting to know about the work of Sylvia Earle, could well be the spark that inspires our kids to use the knowledge that we have discovered and make real and significant changes to how we view and protect our oceans in the very near future.

Sylvia Earle is in South Africa to promote Hope Spots… you can take a peak at her itinerary here, on the Sustainable Seas Trust Website.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Outings · Saturday Spot

What to do with Brilliant Beetroot…

December 4th, 2014 · 7 Comments

It is beetroot season over here and the father person keeps returning from the store with a huge bag of beetroots… so I have been experimenting somewhat. I would say we were preserving, only – even the biggest bag, is eaten before 24 hours is up. So preserving I think not, but pickling for sure…

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Let’s Meet the Players:

  • 3kg of beetroot
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 3 cups of Vinegar
  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • We keep ours plain, but you can add: a bayleaf, half a teaspoon of peppercorns and/or mustard seeds, 2 or 3 cloves and even a cinnamon stick.

Let’s Play the Game

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  1. Rinse and top and tail the beetroot and cover them with water.

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  2. Boil steadily for about 20 minutes, until they feel soft enough to poke them with a fork easily.
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  4. Drain and leave them until they are cool enough to touch. Then you can use a small knife or even a cloth to wipe the skins off them.
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  6. Pop your beetroot back into the pot. Add your vinegar, sugar and water together. And boil for another fifteen minutes or so. This mixture should cover your beetroot, you can increase your liquid by just increasing the ratio: vinegar is twice the water and sugar amounts.
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  8. Once your beetroot has drained and cooled for the second time, you can cut it into slices.
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  10. At this stage you are supposed to pop it into jars, cover with the vinegary liquid and store in a cool place. This however never happens at our house because it gets eaten way too quickly for any sort of storage.

That’s it – so, so very easy!!!

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→ 7 CommentsTags: Monday Munchies · Vegetables

Se7en’s Natural Treasures Advent Calendar, Activities and Books…

December 2nd, 2014 · 4 Comments

And so Advent begins, I can hardly believe that it is December – but it is and we are as ready as we will ever be… today we we got ready for a month of fun times. The father person is going to be taking a break from work and blogging will slow down as we get into the swing of the lazy days of summer.

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Advent Calendar

After all our hiking and really embracing the great outdoors this past year, we decided to capture our natural treasures in our advent calendar. So we set up a hanging tree with drift wood we have found, and each day until Christmas we will be adding a natural treasure to our tree.

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Previously we have learnt about Christmas Around the World and A Cause a Day for Advent.

Twenty Four Easy Advent Activities

We really try to make the most of our 24 days building up to Christmas… we divide our activities between fun family times and Christmas preparations… The first week we concentrate on getting our Christmas Cards and letters done, the next week we create gifts for our friends and extended family. The third week we do all sorts of Christmas crafting… there will be glitter and coloured papers and lots of it. And in the final week before Christmas… Baking and then there is lots of secret making and creating as there kids make each other’s Christmas gifts. It isn’t all about Christmas though, it is about family time together and we will try and play one of our best games each day, we will head head out for evening walks to the beach…

In no particular order:

  1. Bedtime stories in the great outdoors.
  2. Brainstorm gift ideas while drinking cocoa.
  3. Sing Carols with Friends.
  4. Create Christmas Letters.
  5. Have a massive Spring clean Day
  6. Dress up for a Nativity Play.
  7. Invite friends over to share the biggest watermelon.
  8. Walk down to the Post Office and Post all the Christmas letters.
  9. Make a pile of gift wrap.
  10. Let’s head into the city to see the Christmas lights.
  11. Bake Christmas treats for neighbours and adopted grannies.
  12. Go on a picnic and fill the ice-box with ice-cream… nothing like ice-cream cones in the great out doors.
  13. Make a new Nativity scene.
  14. Have a garden clean-up, reward yourself with ice-lollies.
  15. Make Christmas Cookies Dough.
  16. Bake and decorate Christmas Cookies.
  17. Have a dress-up candlelight dinner.
  18. Walk down to the beach after bedtime for ice-creams.
  19. Make a memory jar for the past year.
  20. Have a sleepover, camp out in the same room and tell stories as you drift off to sleep.
  21. Create new bunting and decorations.
  22. Have a massive Gift Wrap frenzy – reward yourselves with a movie.
  23. Make sibling gifts.
  24. Put up the tree and decorate.

Advent Books

We do have traditions and books play a huge part of ours… here are our se7en + 1 favourite Christmas books…

  1. The Christmas Carol: We love this edition and the illustrations by Quentin Blake, make this book magical.
  2. One Wintry Night: We have read it every single Christmas that we have had children, it is a family fave and just expected!!!
  3. The Jesse Tree: This is a great read, a little bit longer than a picture book… but you only read a short section everyday.
  4. Mick Inkpen’s Nativity Play: In true Mick Inpen style, adorable kids getting ready for their school nativity… you will spot little personalities that you know and live with.
  5. This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar: Love the wandering poem that tells the story of the Nativity as it wanders through beautiful realistic illustrations.
  6. The Grinch: Needs no introduction.
  7. The Fourth King: Is the story of a king who missed the departure of the three kings and spends the rest of the story racing to catch up, he keeps getting distracted along the way and doing good deeds. Will he be too late, well it appears he may have missed the whole event, or did he?
  8. And the se7en + 1 th…

  9. And we won’t miss Christmas at Bullerby by Astrid Lindgren

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Holiday Crafts

Se7en’s December and Your Free Printable Calendar..

December 1st, 2014 · 4 Comments


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

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

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


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→ 4 CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar