November 16th, 2015 · 2 Comments
Our Bible Verse of the Week…
Hope Deferred Makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
On this day two years ago, we lost our little Hood #9, and this verse has been the verse that has been bound to my heart ever since. There is no one thing that makes a shattered heart heal, but there are many drips that fall into a bucket that make the load feel a little lighter. We took this snap of the gang while visiting with friends this weekend and I love each of these kids with all my heart. While the picture is perfect, there will always be one face missing for me.
When you lose a love
When you lose a love… How can you help?
When you lose a love… It is a family affair.
When you lose a love… A whole year on.
Week by Week
Tags: Sunday Snippet
November 15th, 2015 · 4 Comments
Another week just flew by, we seem to be dashing from weekend to weekend… tons of good blog material was gathered and prepared for bloging next week…
Despite all the busy-ness, we seemed to have found time to relax… There is very much the feeling that summer could well be on the way…
Lovely Links from This Week
- My desk is looking a bit like we are skidding towards the end of the year, it desperately needs a “stop and assess!!!” Kid’s Activities Blog: has some genius mom-office ideas.
- Love, Love, Love these DK Books: 7 Non-fiction Books for Children that you Secretly Want to Buy for Yourself.
- Oh these magical lanterns on Imagine Childhood…
- Courtney of BabyccinoKids is traveling the world with her kids this year – everything to love about their time in Rio De Janeiro.
- Something to inspire creative ideas: Are you following The Sketchbook Project through Deep Space Sparkle?
- Oh Maps I just love… would you look at Playing by the Book’s post on all things MAP!!!
- Yes it is a little early, but not too early for a fabulous Christmas Dinner from Yuppie Chef, everything you need to know in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.
And the se7en + 1th link:
- A Blast From the Past:
A Special Note for SIBO books
A while back we blogged about the fun SIBO science books for kids and they are trying to crowd fund their latest publication… you can take a peak at the SIBO website here and click on the image to find out more about helping them crowd fund their book launch.
Brilliant Book of the Week
Recipes for Love and Murder, A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew and published by Penguin Random House, South Africa. This book goes straight into my pile of top reads for the year. It is a great escape from reality into a small Karoo town, where Tannie Maria writes a recipe column for the local paper. You very quickly discover that Tannie Maria is all about the food and when she is told that the paper no longer has space for a recipe column, “But could she be the Agony Aunt?” Turns out she is a great Agony Aunt supplying recipes as solutions to any number of situations… problems of the heart are dealt with, with the most stunning buttermilk chocolate cake – it sounded so good we had to try it…
The story quickly progresses to one of the letters claiming that a best friend is going to die at the hands of her abusive husband… then the best friend dies. And suddenly we have a murder in a very small town to solve. And all the ins and outs as Tannie Maria finds herself in the heart of it. And as it turns out the husband amongst all the players is the least of the victim’s worries. This is a great read, delightfully South African… packed with food illustrations, and descriptions of feasts that will send you dashing to the kitchen. There is a collection of very proudly South African recipes at the end of the book: Bredie, Bobotie, Melkert, Koeksisters, and muesli rusks, to name a few. It’s a light read… with some lovely tense moments that I won’t tell you about, because it is fun and I highly recommend it and don’t want to spoil it for you. I am very glad it is the first in the series, because Tannie Maria is someone I am hoping to read a lot more about in the future. You can take a peek at Sally Andrew’s Website here…
We were given a copy of Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew for review purposes. We were not paid for our review, this is not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed are as usual our own.
That’s us… Hope you all have a fabulous week!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
November 13th, 2015 · 3 Comments
The talented sisters Seline and Leandri, wooed our hearts on MasterChef South Africa 2013, as we watched week by week and willed them on to the competition finals. As a country we simply fell in love with them, just the right amount of sweetness and mischief and my, oh my, could these gals cook. It is only fitting that they brought out a cookbook together. Two, published by Penguin Random House South Africa, may have a simple title, but there is nothing simple about this delightful cookbook.
As an idea for a cook book it is different, spunky and brilliant, they wander their way through a number of ingredients, providing two recipes for each of them. For each ingredient there is an easier often family friendly recipe, followed by a more elaborate recipe cooks with more skills… Practicing the first kind of recipe would gain you entrance into the Masterchef competition and the second variation of the recipe will be those recipes you need to stay in the game. The photographs are crisp and clear, the recipes are genuinely new and innovative. This is a very fun book for the cook that thinks they have tried everything… really this book is packed with fresh flavours to try and new recipes to explore.
This book arrived with the best style that a cookbook has ever arrived with a beetroot lollipop and watermelon jam… the cuteness, have you ever!!! And so sweet. These little treats immediately give you an inkling as to what to find between the pages. There are some lovely and unusual ingredients, as well as a very few ordinary ingredients, the ordinary ingredients are of course dressed up for a full night out on the town. These girls have style and it shows in their choice of recipe time after time.
Se7en + 1 Recipes We Tried…
- Classic Mushrooms on Toast: Add some key ingredients like a chopped onion and cream cheese and ordinary fried mushrooms literally becomes a feast on toast. Yummy.
- Easy Mexican Milk Tart: Well this went down well, my family loved and adored it… they added buckets more chilli that the recipe required, dare I say a little proud of their chilli abilities!!!
- Traditional Steak and Ale Pie With Cream Cheese and Mushroom Pastry: Because sometimes dinner needs a wow factor and this recipe has the wow factor and wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. In fact we need to eat more pies.
- Perfect Buttered Popcorn: Who knew that you needed a spray bottle and a pestle and mortar to make the perfect popcorn… you do. Just saying!!!
- Traditional Coq Au Vin: To be honest if we do cook chicken I usually roast it, easy and minimal work. This recipe requires quite a bit more effort than I normally put into dinner, but so, so worth it.
- Gerda’s Plaatkoekies: I can see why these are a family favourite in the gal’s home… to be honest if I make these too often then some folk around here are going to insist that they become part of our routine!!!
- Earl Grey Shortbread with Lavender Sugar: I love recipes that require something from the garden, and lavender is one of those ingredients. Otherwise I have never thought to use the tea in teabags in a recipe. So many clever ideas to learn in this book.
- The Basics: This section at the back of the book has all sorts of little tricks and we needed quite a few of them… shortcrust pastry for the win!!!
And Now for the Scoop: An Interview With Seline and Leandri
Here we go, se7en + 1 questions we think our readers would like to ask you…
- Your cook book has everything from crayfish to mushrooms on toast, but if you had to choose a meal to come home to at the end of the day what would it be?
Seline: I’m a sucker for comfort food like roast chicken, with a couscous accompaniment… And something warm and chocolatey for dessert.
Leandri: Out of our book? I love mushrooms on toast and could easily eat it every day! Outside of the confines of our book, I’d probably say some kind of chicken and chickpea curry with naan bread and some great rice. I love Punjabi cuisine.
- You both learned to cook at home, and honed your skills while growing up. Did you think that those skills would see you all the way through to the finals of Masterchef or did you have other cooking training as well?
Seline: We grew up cooking for fun, and not being allowed by our mother to watch cartoons, we found a lot of cooking shows to fill our “TV time” with… This included old shows like “MasterChef goes Large” and “Ready, Steady, Cook!” It sounds silly, but I entered MCSA on a whim, thinking to myself “I’ll never get in anyways – what are the chances?” If you have been doing things your whole life, you don’t necessarily realize that you are “good” at it – you just assume that everybody knows how to make a bouillabaisse from scratch 😉 On a serious note though, you’re not allowed to enter MCSA if you’ve had ANY training, so no – we just went in with what we knew… And then we learnt a LOT on the show and afterwards from chef and industry friends who mentored us; something we’re very grateful for.
Leandri: Ditto. What she said.
- You both have careers in engineering and yet you love cooking, did you enter Masterchef on a whim, to have some fun together and see how far you could go or did you think it was time for a new season in your lives and a fresh start?
Seline: I famously told Leandri that she “owed me” and HAD to come with me to auditions. “It’ll be fun”, I said. “We’ll never get in”, I said… And the rest is history.
Leandri: Seline needed a change – and I was in between volunteering up in Africa and starting a Masters degree.
- You obviously love traveling, your book is packed with traveling adventures… If you could go out for a meal, anywhere in the world, where would it be? And if you could invite your food/chef inspiration, who would you invite?
Seline: I LOVE travelling and have really spent my youth exploring the world – something that I hope to continue doing until I die. If I could eat anywhere in the world I’d eat at Eleven Madison Park in Mew York City. This restaurant by Chef Daniel Humm is super experimental and cutting edge, and booked out a year in advance. I tried getting a booking when I was in NYC 2 years ago, but the website kept crashing when they opened for bookings… I would invite Chef Richard Carstens (from Tokara) to come along – that man is such a huge inspiration to me and so far ahead of his time… Plus, he’d probably be able to explain the techniques and ingredients of every dish, just from taste so he’d be a huge asset!
Leandri: I want to go everywhere! Right now, I think I’d like to head off to Noma (Rene Redzepi) before it closes its doors. The chef inspiration I’d take along is someone I haven’t met but would love to – Kobus van der Merwe who runs Oep ve Koep in The Cape. He forages and knows ingredients so well – his enthusiasm would be contagious.
- Writing a cookbook is about as far as you could get from your usual day to day work, what was the best part about putting it all together for you?
Seline: Look, we’ve wanted a cookbook since we were little girls. Our mother used to buy us children’s cookbooks before we could even read and we both have a cookbook collection that is treasured (although varied due to our different personalities!). So writing our own was a dream come true, especially with a publisher as huge as Penguin Random House! It was so much fun to develop the concept behind the book and then to come up with all of the recipes – and working along somebody as brilliant as Leandri just made it that much more entertaining.
Leandri: It was a creative release – I needed to work on my Masters dissertation at the time of our manuscript deadline but I found working on our book a lot more captivating and satisfying! My best moment of the process was during our photography with Sean Calitz and Brita du Plessis – they are so incredible. We made the cumin steak with a coffee sauce and the leftovers we left for the MD of Penguin Randomhouse, Steve Connolly, and the next day he sent a message to us to let us know it was the best sauce he had ever eaten! That was an incredible compliment!
- From your book, it is quite clear that you love food and a wide variety of it. What is your favourite ingredient to work with and while we at it, what is your worst?
Seline: My favorite ingredient in the world is watermelon
And I’ll eat anything except coriander leaves… To me it tastes like stinkbugs :/
Leandri: I love adding lemon juice and zest to dishes – it brings necessary brightness to most dishes, especially pasta. I dislike cheese, in particular blue cheese – the smell remains with me long after I have handled it – yuck!
- Is there a piece of kitchen equipment that you would really rather not live without? In fact what do you think is essential to any kitchen…
Seline: Sharp knives… And you don’t know what a sharp knife is until you buy a brand new Opinel, Global or Wusthof straight out of the box. It makes the world of difference!
Leandri: A good nonstick pan is a must. It saves my life over and over again – pancakes, omelets, fish… everything is just much easier to prepare.
- While your book is a recipe book, it is simply packed with photos of your life and childhood, a beautiful photographic memoir… what flavour or aroma, takes you right back to your favourite food memory from childhood?
Seline: The smell of frying plaatkoekies (flapjacks) will always remind me of Sunday mornings as a kid, with mom willing us out of bed before church with the wonderful smell of these goodies. And she always had the largest array of toppings, although a simply spread of some butter would usually be more than enough for me. Precious memories…
Leandri: We grew up with naartjie, peach and nectarine trees in our back yard, so the smell of stone fruit, and having the furry fluff prickle my nose as I smell a cling peach takes me back to summer days in Mafikeng.
We would like to thank Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with a copy of this book to review. And especially thank you to Seline and Leandri for taking the time for such a fab interview. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.
Tags: Cook Book Reviews · Monday Munchies
November 12th, 2015 · 4 Comments
Citizen Science is where volunteers from the public assist scientists in their research, either with data collection or actual observations. It is a way for scientists to collect a lot of data with the help of interested and committed parties. Projects vary in size and scope from small scale to national projects… from bird counts to whale watching, from leopard frog safety to observing the stars. If you google citizen science and your area you will be able to find local science projects that you can be a part of.
Recently the Cape Citizen Science Project contacted us and asked us to join in and we just about leapt for joy at the opportunity. The Cape Citizen Science Project is a survey of plant disease in the Cape Floral Kingdom, particularly Fynbos. Our local area is a small and unique floral kingdom, packed with enormous diversity. The small area of this rich and unique floral kingdom means that the threat of an invasive disease is a serious one and an understanding of the problem is a critical undertaking.
Studying plant disease is essential to the sustainable management of it. This past week we met up with our friendly scientist and a couple of botanists from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to learn how to take samples and to look for signs of plant disease in the plants at Kirstenbosch.
Let’s Meet The Players…
The scientist behind the project, who taught us the ins and outs… his enthusiasm was contagious and I predict the microscope is going to be hauled out and renewed energy in our home school science department.
The gang of eager citizen scientists…
The super friendly protea expert, who is in charge of the protea section within the Botanical Gardens was our guide… leading us to locations where plants showing symptoms of disease could be found.
And the head of the Arboretum, who was our guide last year, when we explored the Boomslang.
Location, Location, Location… Kirstenbosch
Kirstenbosch is one of our absolute favourite places to visit: from dinosaurs and cycads, and exploring, it is no secret it is one of the best places in Cape Town to visit with kids. The incredible plants and beautiful gardens quite outshine any of the other features in the gardens… take a peek:
While the folk from Kirstenbosch sorted out a plethora of the necessary permits and the behind the scenes organising, we got on with real live science…
Roots, Shoots and Pathogens…
Amidst the plants in the gardens we were shown plants that were demonstrating distinct signs of distress, areas where plants were dying and replanting wasn’t helping. We set out to see if the plants were infected with Phytophthora. Phytophthera is the Greek for Plant+destroyer, and is a tiny organism that causes a disease in plants. Think Irish Potato Famine. It is critical that we learn more about this pathogen and its effects on the Fynbos Ecosystem, which is home to so many unique species of not just plants but animals too.
We began by looking for signs of Phytophthera…
Learning what to look for… and how to take plant samples…
A small scraping of the stem and a distinct line, demonstrates that the plant is diseased and dying from the roots up…
Sample plants from a couple of locations were bagged along with important data such as: the name of the scientist, the name of the plant and the exact location of where the sample was taken for mapping purposes.
After each sampling, all the instruments were cleaned and disinfected to prevent cross-contamination of pathogens.
Moving on to the next location… to repeat the process.
The Silver Tree Forest
The urgency of the project can be seen in the beautiful Silver Tree Forest…
Where trees are experiencing obvious distress…
There is clearly an critical problem…
Can you imagine this view without the window of silver trees to look through…
One citizen scientist was clearly concerned and taking notes.
Samples were collected and bagged and triumphant citizen scientists were off to take a closer look…
To the Lab
Samples of the samples were carefully placed in pre-prepaired petri dishes…
Careful labelling is essential…
Each citizen scientist has a petri dish… waiting to see what grows in there and if the pathogen we are looking for is indeed the cause of the trouble in our region.
Real Science by Citizen Scientists
There is nothing more inspiring to youngsters than real projects with real tools and real outcomes. Just as real art with great tools can inspire a young artist, so real science using real scientific processes can inspire the young scientist. If you want to know more about the project then pop over to the Cape Citizen Science Website for information and learning materials.
Thank you so much to Cape Citizen Science for the invitation to join your project, and the folk at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens for showing us around and enabling us to work there.
Tags: Hiking · Outings · Science · Se7en at School
The other day a friend called me a hiker, I just about fainted… if you knew me in person, you would know, I am just a regular gal with a couple of kids. But, I thought about it and we do seem to get up and down mountains together and we do seem to be able to disappear off the grid for an entire day every couple of weeks… So perhaps she had a point, perhaps our daily walks have morphed us into hikers.
We have always been walkers, I can’t think how many times our gang have tumbled up and down the mountain behind our house and they are always ready for any kind of adventure. About a year and a half ago we began a bi-monthly hike in the Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park. And we have managed to turn a walking family into a hiking family. We are slow, but steady and we have learnt that it really is the journey and not the destination that counts. It is has been great fun and definitely something to tie my kids together and create memories… rain or shine, short and far… we have hiked our way to and fro across the park.
From Walkers to Hikers…
- Preparation Stays the Same: Not much has changed… one chap is always up at first light, good and ready to go. The others not so much. We always pack exactly the same packs with exactly the same gear whatever the weather: A warm top, a hat, a sketchbook and pencil, two sandwiches and a snack and two water bottles each. Nothing changes and we can pack the night before and be ready to roll out the door in the morning.
- The Right Gear Makes a Huge Difference: You don’t have to have the best gear and you don’t have to have all the gear. Trust me, the local “Great Outdoors Store” would have you believe you need a heap of gear to get up and get out… but the reality is that we are not climbing Everest overnight, we are going on a hike for a couple of hours. Walking shoes are a must… but expensive boots are not essential. This may amaze you, but the most exciting discovery for us, is that a good pair of socks can cover a multitude of imperfect shoes. This year was the first year that I took notice of getting socks that actually fitted… my word, it is the difference between sore blistered feet after every single hike. And finally we are slowly but surely, birthday by birthday… replacing their packs with proper day packs, it does make a difference to be comfortable when you are walking and to have gear that is specially for hiking and not everyday… but it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant at all.
- Document your hikes: And we always take before and after pictures. And you can see in some of those faces, what a couple of hours in the wild does for you… there is nothing liking the joy the being in the great out doors brings. And we try and get an awesome team shot… along the way. We always have a quiet moment… when we spend 2 minutes just listening. Otherwise we are starting to know… what flowers to expect in which season, what animals we might find along the way. It is good to get familiar with a vast area… of wildness. But when we can’t make it to the nature reserve, there is always a walk closer to home… just get outside and the great outdoors will find you.
- The Fifteen Minute Rule: The first time we hiked we had to institute the fifteen minute rule, which is something like this: We won’t decide at the very start if we are going to push on, we will first walk for fifteen minutes and then assess how we feel. Very often at the start of the hike there will be one or two folk who just can’t face it… the early start, just not in the mood… so many factors can be working internally against us. So we give it fifteen minutes of walking in the great outdoors before we decide if we can’t face it. Our very first hike was exactly fifteen minutes, but I made the mistake of saying we would turn back after fifteen minutes, so we did. After that I learnt that we would “assess” after fifteen minutes, because that’s just long enough to get that “great outdoors feeling” and not want to turn back – ever!!!
- There is a Time for Rest: When we started hiking it used to be all about stopping rather than walking. If someone wanted a some water we all stopped, if someone wanted a bite to eat, we all stopped… if someone wanted to tie their laces, we all stopped and if someone wanted to climb a good looking rock… we all stopped. There was a lot of stopping. But hiking is so much better if you can find your rhythm and roll with it. So now we check laces before we take the first step and for most hikes we know the route, so we designate places to stop. We choose good places to sit and picnic, not to mention play… because hiking legs might get tired, but playing/climbing legs are always ready to be doing something. Our rests are long enough to rest and recover and have something to eat and then roll out again. And this guy can sleep anywhere…
- We Always Stop to Look at the Wildlife: it is such privilege to see these incredible animals outdoors in their own habitats. We stop, we watch, we photograph and we draw. We don’t go too close, though sometimes we turn a corner and come face to face… As soon as an animal shifts or moves even a muscle, you know that an animal senses you and feels you are in their space. By stepping back a little and just sitting quietly we have managed to watch so many creatures that we would never have seen just by driving through the park.
- Different Folks Get Different Jobs: Some kids are great at leading the way, some kids are not. Some kids are great at making sure no-one lags behind, some kids are not. Some kids are great encouragers to folk that want to give up and others not so much. So we work with our strengths and by now most folk know where they fit in the scheme of important roles on a hike. There is often a bit of shuffling of status at the start of a hike as folk want try new positions. But after a little while they end up back in their roles, it works, everyone is happy and off we go.
- Leave No Trace: It has become a little bit of a game for us to leave no trace behind, apart from the obvious “don’t litter…” No broken sticks, no turned up stones, no smashing footprints… if we look at something we put it back. Whatever you are looking at is part of an eco-system and we want to leave those little homes just the way we found them. We have found so many hikers leave “organic litter” on trails… to be honest if you were meant to find old apple cores or egg shells in the fynbos, then their would be apple trees and chickens running about. There aren’t and folk should take their organic rubbish home and compost it. (I am not even going to mention dogs and why we prefer hiking in the reserve where dogs are not allowed). We do find, even in the most remote places: cooldrink bottles and glass bottles. So now we just take a bag along and like a beach clean-up, we do a hike clean up.
The Sirkelsvlei Hike
It seemed fitting that with summer headed our way and some kids with summer jobs and others with looming camps… that this would be our last visit all together as one gang for a little while. So we decided to revisit the hike that we began all our hiking with… the one we gave up on after fifteen minutes… and then managed a month later, The Sirkelsvlei Hike at Cape Point:
The first time we hiked this route 18 months ago
The Sirkelsvlei hike, starts at Olifantsbos…
And there is always wildlife to look at here…
Up the mountain and across the plain,
Through Koggelman’s Arch,
That you don’t even realise is there until you stumble upon it…
Then on across the plains again…
And then back through the Reed Flats, fields and fields of restios towards the coast…
Then looking down on the Shipwreck Trail…
And past ghostly ships…
Past the look out post…
And back to the start…
Then the Baboons Came Out to Play…
Other Hikes in Cape Point.
Tags: Cape Town · Outings
November 9th, 2015 · 3 Comments
Our Bible Verse of the Week…
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;keep watch over the door of my lips.
Week by Week
Tags: Sunday Snippet
November 8th, 2015 · 4 Comments
We have a new neighbour, I find myself sitting outside on the deck in the middle of the day hoping to catch a glimpse…
Otherwise we have been busier than usual, plotting and planning and preparing some cool posts… good times ahead. Not to mention looming summer!!!
Lovely Links from This Week
- The Guardian asked Michael Morpurgo, Cerrie Burnell, Lemn Sissay, Jacqueline Wilson and Laura Dockrill: “What is an Ideal Childhood?”
- Ten Truths Middle Schoolers Should Know… on For Every Mom.
- Living Lightly with the One Bag Lifestyle on Zen Habits… this is so me!!!
- Babyccino’s Holiday Gift Guides… because I love them!!!
- How sweet is this series, My Teenage Bedroom, on Design Sponge. I think what I love about it is it wasn’t staged just pics of a kids room – so much of what we see is prepared!!!
- How Green is your Office? This post has some food for thought: A Tree-Mendous Step in the Right Direction…
And the se7en + 1th link:
- A Blast From the Past:
Book of the Week
Diary of a Wimpy Kids 10: Old School by Jeff Kinney and published by Penguin Random House, South Africa. This has to be the book of the week… launched and read on the same day, because the Wimpy Kid is that popular over here. These are great first chapter books for readers who are ready to launch into “real books” but need a little confidence boost to get to chapter books. They are witty, well hilarious if you are in the ten to twelve age range… I have to say, over here everyone age ten and up inhale these. They are packed with cartoon style illustrations and despite being his own worst enemy, our hero is very likeable. Silly as he is, he never gives up and comes up with great and industrious plots and plans… they all lead to nought… but you can’t help loving him anyway. His parents try… really try to keep him on the straight and narrow, and like most parents, they are exactly clued up to their child’s every move. I will say it again… they do try. In this book, his mum makes every effort to have a screen free, actually electricity free weekend, just like the good old days. You can imagine this did not go down well in the eyes of our hero, though he does try to make the best of it with a lemon aid stand. He didn’t necessarily succeed. I have to say that there are a quite a few series in this category, of heaps of pictures, easy font, easy reading for just beyond beginner readers… that I read to my smaller kids, but these I keep till they are able to read them themselves. My middle schoolers have really enjoyed them, but my younger kids won’t always see the funny side of his jokes and they probably wouldn’t keep up with the quick and relentless wit of Greg Heffley. The Wimpy Kid has a website packed with funky stuff… youtube videos, extracts, activities, news and well, check it out… because it is packed with goodies.
We were given a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney for review purposes. We were not paid for our review, this is not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed are as usual our own.
That’s us… Hope you all have a fabulous week!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun