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

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The Week That Was… #217

August 17th, 2016 · 8 Comments

A Week that Was Post… on what we have been up to the last couple of weeks… We have had a few wild and crazy storms and plenty of beautiful sunshiny days… and not nearly enough rain… hopefully there is plenty of more rain to come – even though I can’t believe I am actually writing that!!!

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It is the best time of year to catch the sunrise… no one here is an early riser after all.

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Shew the crazy wild storms have stirred up the sea…

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Did I ever mention the one that doesn’t feel the cold… this is the middle of winter folks…

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And the whale that I didn’t get to photograph….

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There was of course hiking and lots of it… and tired legs…

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Play, play, play… our kids have hardly been indoors for weeks…

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Pancakes for the win…

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And every one is loving mini-personalized-omlettes…

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The snack of choice…

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And we are now making butter all the time…

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And cooking in the wilds…

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Braai-Broodjies for the win…

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and I was made breakfast for the first time ever… pretty professional!!!

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Audiobooks and colouring for the win…

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The garden is filled with sugarbirds… if you find a quiet spot and just watch them you will discover a magical show…

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These holidays have been all about the pirates…

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And when you find a net on the beach during a beach cleanup, then you have your own built in rigging.

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And treasures…

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There has also been a fair amount of decluttering… just a little corner of space every single day…

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Artwork of the Week

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So much arting has been going on… epic creations have emerged amidst piles of colourful papers and markers and pencils and glue-sticks.

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Game of the Week…

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This is clearly the age of games… we have been playing and playing games… card games, board games, strategy games… games, games games!!!

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So Many Books of the Week…

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So much reading…

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Someone is obsessed with this book right now…


Gallery

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Not to mention… that is my baby rowing away on his own. How did that happen? I have no words…

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Hope you are all having a brilliant week!!!

→ 8 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

Another Great #CTMeetup, Meet the Keynote Speaker and an Epic Goody Bag…

August 15th, 2016 · 8 Comments

Last weekend saw another meet up of Cape Town Bloggers, organised by the fabulous Cindy Alfino. This is my moment in time that I pop on the calendar and consider booked way before the event. There is nothing quite like the real life meeting of folk that you interact with online. We had a really pretty venue, Chino’s Coffee House in Kenilworth. It has a large indoor/outdoor area, which was perfect for the weather that looked really sunny, but was just a little bit crisp.

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First on the agenda was a lot of mingling and catching up and always meeting lovely new faces… not to mention a little nerve wracking, but always so worth it. You can meet all the players and discover who is who in Cape Town blogging over here.

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The room filled up and the chattering grew louder… never a dull moment at these meetups, because there is one thing about bloggers that you may not know… they have a lot of words, and the ones they don’t have time to write down they have to use up at events like these.

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Rain Was There

Our friends from Rain were there, providing the friendliest service, not only did they create stunning gifts for each of us to take home in our goody bags but there were neck and hand massages for everyone… these folk are just incredible.

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The team from Rain just have got the beautification thing spot on, beautiful colours, beautiful aromas, beautiful presentation… they just can’t be beat…

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And a short talk, telling us where they are as a company right now…

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If you want to know more about the company Rain, then head for their website. And if you want to see what they gifted us with, then scroll down the post…

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Jenny from the Entertainer App

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So where have I been that I had never heard of the Entertainer App before… I could get really excited about this. It is a “buy one get one free” scheme, when you go out for dinner to member restaurants you pay for a main meal and you get another one free, when you go to member restaurants, attractions, beauty and fitness… even getaways. In other words, to all the places you go on the app, and there are dozens of places I definitely want to go to, if you go with a friend then you only pay half price… this is an absolute win, the app normally costs R490. (attendees were gifted it to try out), but if you think about what dinner out costs, or a nice new hairdo, or getting your nails done costs, not to mention a weekend away… then really you can cover the cost of the app really quickly, if you make use of it. Here are some of the half price offers that I wasn’t expecting: coffee grounds, dog grooming(!), a first aid course, places to stay all over the place, swimming lessons, heaps of fitness offers and trips to spas, kite surfing lessons, surfing lessons, theatre tickets, boat trips… the Cape Wheel, and Intaka Island and so much more.

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KeyNote Speaker: Meet Photographer, Abigail K.

Amidst cakes, and quiches, scones and wraps… Abigail K. shared literally dozens of photography tips and “did you know?”s for bloggers… it was definitely a case of so little time and so much to learn…

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Se7en+1 Blogging Tips:

  1. Visual Content is the language of the internet: photos, infographics and video, 60 hours of new youtube content is added each minute. Content with good images gets 94 % more interaction, than content with poor images. Not to mention, good images means 50% more sharing.
  2. A good image sells your headline: Which is why instagram is so great. The image sells the product, and the review adds to it, because most people don’t read anymore. If you do reviews your photographs has to be spot on.
  3. Establish your personal style: Amidst the sea of others, use your own tone of voice. Even without your name on a photograph, folks should know that a photograph is yours. Play to your uniqueness, everything has been done already, so you need to do things your way to make them stand out and be special.
  4. Your Profile Picture: Establishes your brand and has to be perfect… “Folks get to “Know you, Like you, Trust you and then Follow you,” you need to have a trustworthy profile pic in order to gain followers. A clear face, watch your background, and up to date… If you are going to use selfies then use them responsibly, remember you are your brand.
  5. Always use an image to support your post: If you don’t have stock then create a stock library… you can either
    • Buy photo stock (which is never original).
    • Create your own, teach yourself some basic photography… and she gave each attendee access to her course, I am dying to sign up for that.
    • Employ a photographer and every couple of months do a photo shoot and create the images that you are going to need.
  6. Gain one platform: You can’t be everywhere, so pick one, like instagram and work at it, before you move on and master another one.
  7. Every blog should have: All the things that I haven’t mastered… blog consistently (oh my!!!), and every post should have a call to action (oh dear) and just where is my newsletter (oh my oh my oh my).
  8. Question time was all about Newsletters: I must say that when it comes to newsletters I rather like the ones I get where friends post their blogs of the week. Myself, I have always thought that I just don’t have the time for another blog post/email a week… and actually everything I write I want to see on my blog. After a bit of thought, I realise that I really like bloggers that send out a week of their posts and I can read all their posts in a chunk… So maybe I should think about offering that to our readers.


And Then Onto The Goody Bag

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One thing about the Cape Town Meetups is the goody bags, they are unbelievably good… in every way… So I thought I would show you everything in detail.

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  • SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute): Kirstenbosch, and the Botanical Society of South Africa always include and invitation to join their society, some mints (always handy) and a copy of their Veld & Flora Magazine, which had an article on our Citizen Science Project from last year, so everyone was thrilled to see that.
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  • Canal Walk: Sponsored vouchers and a beautiful gift for each attendee and I am headed straight for Typo over there, to spend mine…
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  • Lush: This could be my happy place… a glitter bar from the lovely Lush inside the Canal Walk gift… just perfect.
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  • Rain: A beautiful, beautiful gift from Rain, and you all know how much I love Rain!!! Not only do they make the most stunning products, from locally sourced ingredients, chemical free, cruelty free, and fair trade. Not to mention they are the absolute champions of beautiful gifting… and their treat was a goody bag all of it’s own. Hand cream, handmade soap and a treatment voucher for the win.
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  • Buchulife: Buchu is a plant endemic to the Cape Fynbos region and has a unique aroma and has been used as a natural remedy for a number of ailments for centuries. My granny used to make buchu tea and I love the smell it brings back so many memories. We use the Buch First Aid Gel, it is our go to cream for bruises and everyday scrapes that active, outdoor kids seem to accumulate. We never buy bottled water, but we were happy to try the sugar free water, my gang loved it.
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  • MooMoo Sunwear: They create adorable sun-wear for little people, not to mention locally made baby sleeping bags.
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  • SAMPAR Face Creams: I don’t actually use face creams… and my mom in law was thrilled to take these on… just the prettiness of the packaging was a win for her.
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  • Benefit Cosmetics: Mascara for the win and honestly I didn’t even know that such things as a brow bar existed, you live and learn.

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  • Lavender in Lavenderhill: I s a project that I read about a couple of years ago and immediately loved the idea. The idea was to uplift the Lavenderhill Community by planting Lavender gardens within the community. The project became increasingly difficult, because of the increasing cost of water and vandalism. What that project clearly demonstrated that the area was ready for an upliftment project and they began entrepreneurial training and projects in small business management. They now sell a number of lavender based products created in the community and I was happy to receive some of their teabags.
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  • SelfieStickerZA: Can be found on face book and they gave all the attendees and n0n-slip sticker that you stick onto the back of your phone and then you can stick your phone onto a glass surface, like a mirror or window, in order to take a hands free selfie. I an not a selfie gal, but they did have a fabulous prize for printing out photos if you use them.
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  • RomeoFoxtrot: There was a pretty piece of jewellery for everyone. The makers of lovely jewellery, and they have something pretty for everybody to like. If you love prettiness, then head over to their sight… something for kids, and him and her.
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  • Oh So Heavenly: Bath and body products to love, my kids absolutely love their bubble baths… I passed the shampoo/conditioner for colour treated hair onto a friend.
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  • John Frieda: Hair Products… for full bodied hair and blondes… mom in law was a winner again and she was thrilled.
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  • The Entertainer App: I was thrilled to get a voucher to use the Entertainer App, that we had been told all about. I am dying to get using ours, literally hundreds of restaurants to try, not to mention heaps of other goodies and all in the “Buy one Get one free” category. If you eat out or get your nails done, then you really should take a closer look at what this app has to offer you.
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  • PrintWild: I have been dying to print a large canvas of the gang hiking, for the longest time. So I was thrilled to receive a discount voucher.
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  • Versus Wines: Were on all the tables… and none of the grownups in our house were complaining.
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  • Revlon: Most folk know that I am not the biggest make-up gal, but I do look forward to a fresh mascara and and a new Revlon lipstick in every CapeTown meet up goody bag.
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  • Milly and Me: Creators of the wrap dress, offered attendees a discount voucher.
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  • SecBands: Make Personalised lanyards, and other goodies for promotional events… including fabulous chopping boards that will make great gifts.
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  • Avent: And I was thrilled to see that they refer to the La Leche League on the back of their booklet. Each attendee was giving a storage cup for breastmilk, we are out of that season… but it makes the perfect yogurt container for lunch boxes.
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  • G.U.M.: Where there to talk to us about teeth whitening, with a sample toothpaste and soft toothpicks to try out. Is there anything nicer than clean sparkling teeth… I think not!!!

Huge thank you to all the blog friends that make these events happen and of course to CindyAlfino for organising everything and of course all the sponsors… that make this event magical…


Previous CTMeetup Blog Posts

CTMeetUp #1: Saturday Spot: When Bloggers Get Together… #CTMeetUp
CTMeetUp #2: CT Bloggers MeetUp and A Fab Mr Price GiveAway…
CTMeetUp #3: Another Day and Another CTMeetUp with the Great Cindy Alfino…
CTMeetUp #4: The CTmeetup: Where Local Bloggers Meet and Greet…

→ 8 CommentsTags: Blog Events · Blog School

Se7en Journeys to Central and South America With the Read the World Book Club…

August 13th, 2016 · No Comments

This is Week Se7en of our Read the World Book Club Series. For the next couple of weeks we are going to be posting a pile of our favourite books from each continent… and you are welcome to join us on our journey. This week we are journeying to Asia along with The Simple Homeschool Folk and #Giveyourchildtheworld.

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Welcome to Central and South America

Like all good journeys we began with a feast… and you can’t beat wraps when it comes to feasting.

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And our favourite Chilli Poppers…

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And of course Salsa…

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And while you are celebrating, don’t forget the pinatas are very much associated with Mexican culture and they can be made over a period of weeks or days, or even minutes… here is a post that contains everything you need to know about making your own pinatas.

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Our Favourite Books from Central and South America


Se7en + 1 Picture Books


South America, Everything you Ever Wanted to Know: Because Lonely Planet books are very fun reads and keep children engaged and spewing copious amounts of actual facts!!! This includes explorers, weird and wonderful creatures, snippets of history… it just goes on and on…


Up and Down the Andes by Laurie Krebs and Aurélia Fronty: This is one of the first books we ever reviewed on our blog… and it has been loved over and over again. Laurie Krebs winding rhythm that takes you on a journey up and down the Andes is just special in every way.


We’re Sailing to Galapagos by Laurie Krebs and Grazia Restelli: I collect islands and the Galapagos are islands that I would so love to visit… but in the meantime I would settle for this sweet rhyming book, telling us all about the weird and wonderful creatures that live there.


Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia by Jeanette Winter: this is the story of a librarian after my own heart… he collects and collects books until his house in Columbia literally overflows. He begins a traveling library, with the help of two donkeys he takes his books to children in remote villages… just everything to love.


Frida by Jonah Winter: A Biography of Frieda Kahlo for children… this is a peak into the life of a great artist who was faced with life changing tragedy again and again. Polio as a child left her bedridden for months, followed by an almost fatal bus accident that left her bedridden for life and in a lot of pain… throughout her struggles she painted to express herself. A Poignant read and beautiful introduction to a great artist.


Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood: We are waiting for this one to appear in our library, it is the story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. We have read about this orchestra, that created their instruments from the materials found in the dump that they live on, in the news… but we would love to read the story and find out more about it.


The Llamas Secret by Palacios: This is a Peruvian retelling of the story of the great flood, the lllama tells the people that they need to seek safety on the mountain, because of the rising sea…


Hill of Fire by Thomas P.Lewis, illustrated by Joan Sandin: This is the story of a poor Mexican farmer whose very ordinary days, and one day while he is plowing the field his plow falls into a whole in the ground and smoke erupts from it… and later a volcano erupted from the ground in his field… and incredible story based on actual events… a great beginner reader.


Se7en + 1 Chapter Books


The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads: This is the story of an ancient Mayan boy who is called to grow the corn for his family when his father is injured and there is no one else to help the family survive. It is a difficult journey and there are many lessons to learn along the way. The illustrations in this book, are line drawn in the Mayan tradition and help to set the scene of the story. There is a glossary of words at the end of this book, that are scattered throughout the story and help to place it in the context of central America. This is a coming of age book that makes a good first chapter book… though all my kids have asked me for help to get through it.


Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clarke: This is one of our all time favourite read a louds and we have read it again and again and again… It is the story of Cusi, and Incan boy who is sent on a mysterious journey, a quest… and on his journey he discovers himself and the truth about his secret past. There are nuances in this book that make it work better as a read a loud, there are jumps in logic and the rhythm is fairly slow in places. As a read aloud we can talk about the emotional journey that Cusi is on, and and explain things as we go… My readers would be completely lost if they read this on their own… but together we have really enjoyed getting to know the Incan culture and mindset through it… Highly recommend reading this one as a family.


Chucaro Wild Pony of the Pampa by Francis Kalnay: I read this book as a child and it has stayed with me. It is a great horse story, set in a part of the world where horse stories are not typically written. This book tells you so much about life in the Pampas and the gauchos who work there. Pederito, the son of an old gaucho has set his heart on taming a wild horse they have caught… the wealthy land owner wants the wild horse for his cruel and spoilt son. There is conflict, there is lots of horse talk and a happy ending.


Cairo Jim and the Quest for the Quetzal Queen by Geoffrey McSkimming: Cairo Jim is a series of chapter books for readers who beginning to be confident in reading in reading picture-free chapter books. It is a series of books that my kids inhale and can’t get enough of. Cairo Jim is an archeologist that goes on epic adventures to all the ancient sites of the world with his macaw, Doris, and Wonder Camel, Brenda. This quest is set in Mexico and involves climbing each of the ancient pyramids in search of the Quetzal Queen. You have been warned that once you have read one of these you will absolutely have to read the others in the series too. You can find Cairo Jim at his website here.


Mission Survival: Gold of the Gods by Bear Grylls: Bear Grylls needs no introduction as the great adventurer that he is. The fact that he writes excellent and adventurous stories to accompany his personal adventures is really a bonus. This book is the first in another series of books that my middle-school boys literally inhaled… survival skills for the win. Beck Granger is lost in the jungle of Colombia and has to survive… without food or a compass. There is a lot to learn in the jungle and he has to learn fast, so will the reader. You can read more about this exciting series here.


Young Bond Hurricane Gold: Another series of books aimed at adventure seeking teens… Fast paced action from start to finish. Flying Ace Jack Stone leaves his daughter and dos son, with a young James Bond. Of course there are folks waiting to ambush the youngsters and a terrific chase through the Mayan Jungles ensues… Greed, betrayal and of course survival skills. You can read more about the series over here….


Walk the World’s Rim by Betty Baker: This is the story of a young indian boy from a primitive indian tribe, who is entranced by four survivors of a Spanish Expedition to Mexico. The four survivors, three spaniards and their slave Esteban, need a guide. This is definitely a read aloud, the desperate struggles through out the book seem to just compound on top of each other. There is a lot of hardship and in desperate times folk can do desperate things. At first you might think it is a story of survival… but ultimately it a the story of friendship. This book is digs deep into the history and culture of the time, it is a great read… but a journey I would rather travel, reading alongside my kids. The ending is poignant, and you will think about the bigger lessons in this book, long after you have finished reading it.


Bruchko by Bruce Olson: Another book that is so good that I have reviewed it before. I first read this book myself, and then I started reading it to my older boys, as it was part of their school curriculum, I planned for them to get caught up in it and finish it themselves… but it is so good that I read it through to the end. This is the story of a young 19 year old chap, who is called to be a missionary to a remote tribe in the deep jungle of South America. This is the story of his journey to reach them, the incredible hardships he faced, the illness he suffered and the perseverance to push on, against all odds. This is an outstanding true book, that you will read all the way through without pause… don’t miss it.


Previous Posts in this Series

Se7en Are Off on a Book Voyage

Se7en Journeys to Africa with the Read the World Book Club…

Interview on Growing up in South Africa on Simple Homeschool…

Se7en Welcomes the Read the World book Club to Sunny South Africa…

Se7en Journeys to Europe with the Read the World Book Club…

Se7en Journeys to North America With the Read Aloud Book Club…

Se7en Journeys to the Middle East With the Read the World Book Club…

Se7en Journeys to Central and South America with the Read the World Book Club…

You are welcome to join the club… and if you do post on instagram use the #Giveyourchildtheworld hashtag.

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→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Geography · Se7en at School

Se7en + 1 Brilliant Things to Create and Print With a HP Printer…

August 12th, 2016 · 8 Comments

A short while back I blogged about my fabulous day out to the Stir Crazy Cooking School, thanks to HP printers… the fun we had cooking up a storm, creating wonderful pictures and printing photographs to go with them. While I was there and chatting I mentioned that it was surely every mother’s dream to have a colour printer, especially if you are like me and have spent hours and hours of my life creating pictures of our family fun on our blog and on instagram… I have a friend, that I love dearly and she prints out pictures monthly, I imagine that is a special kind of magic. Every now and then I ask her, what printer should I get and then because I am a completely technically challenged I leave it, thinking that I would never be able to figure out how a printer even works.

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At the HP day out, printing appeared to be so easy, there were quite a few folk there to help us but I was still a little nervous that it would be a little too technical for me on my own. Anyway the kind folks at Hp Printers lent me a printer to try… and we have been living with a printer on my desk for a couple of weeks now. The sleek little HP printer that has been sitting on my desk and is really quite the apple of my eye right now. At first I just looked at it, somewhat overwhelmed… but I knew that I was so close to printing piles of pictures… I had to get started and discovered that all I had to do was plug it in and it was ready to print. It was that easy.


Se7en Cool Things to Print Right Now

  1. Photos of your all time faves.
  2. Photos for the empty frames on the family photo wall that have had six out of eight kids photographs up for years (to my shame!).
  3. Photos for grannies and friends on the far side of the world.
  4. Photos for memory books, pictures for memory boxes.
  5. Photos for our family cookbook that I am creating this year.
  6. Photos for crafts…
  7. Photos for our massive nature study project that we did for school last year… and we will be blogging about that next week!!!

Printing heaven has arrived. Not to mention I personally, “insert standing ovation here,” was able to figure out how to pop in new colour cartridges and change paper size, and how to use the scanner… everything. It was really easy and accessible to me, the ultimate “don’t make me try new technology” gal.

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There was a little problem with the plan to print copious photographs… and that is the problem of copious photographs. A couple of years back my computer crashed, it was over full of photographs. As I began blogging so I began taking photographs by the thousand, day after day after day. Eventually my computer choked and said no more… and then began the long and difficult process of deleting photographs. BY THE THOUSANDS. After weeks of deleting a thousand photographs every single day, I became a lot more discerning about the photographs I store. But having a printer, made me realise that I am not nearly discerning enough and set myself the task of another month of deleting. I realised I had to sort and categorise my photographs a lot better, before I was actually ready to print photographs. Not to mention delete mountains of photographs.


Se7en + 1 Tips for Organising Your Photographs on Your Computer

  1. Delete as you import: If I photograph isn’t perfect or special delete it.
  2. Delete all Duplicates: You know when you take ten photographs of the same thing to pick the best one later. Pick the best one and delete the rest… even better, break the habit and just take one shot.
  3. Delete some more: Look through your photos again and cut the number you are keeping by half, and then half again. I know it sounds crazy but you just can’t keep them all.
  4. Delete the photographs that you haven’t tagged: If you haven’t tagged your photographs before, then start now, as you import them. Tagging photos builds up up your personal photo bank for later blog posts. Next time you have a blog post crying out for autumn leaves, search your photos using tags and find one. Photos that you haven’t tagged you are never going to discover again… delete them.
  5. Delete Folders That You Will Never Use Again: Once you start tagging photographs, you should also start keeping photos in logical folders… folders of events you have attended, crafts you have created and so on. Once your photos are in folders you will discover vast chunks of photographs that you will never need again… for example I had an entire folder of GiveAway Winner photographs. I will post those photos once and never look back. Photographs you only ever need once can be deleted.
  6. Delete Your Trash Box: Firstly, make sure that you have a back up of photographs… Have at least three back-ups at any given time: an external hard drive, time machine and then Flickr. Find out how to store your photos on the cloud and then make sure to automate that. Yes, once bitten and all that. If you don’t back-up your photographs then don’t expect them to be around forever. Once you are sure that you have a back up… then delete your trash box, nothing slows a computer down quite as much as a trash box filled to the brim with deleted photographs.
  7. Delete After a Period of Time: It is very hard to delete photographs from a special event this past weekend… but pick a date of the month and on that date look back at the same month last year… a lot of the photos that you just had to keep will be ready for the delete pile now.
  8. Delete is your Best Friend: for organising your photographs, and finally while you are sorting and tagging and so on create a folder of those super special photographs, the absolute keepers. Create a “Photos to Print” folder. Then you just hit print and the printer does the rest.

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Apart from all the photographs that we wanted to print, there are literally dozens of printables that have been saved for “when we have a printer” and I have created a list of them for you to take a peak at… in no particular order, just a collection of the best of the rest.


Se7en Bazillion Places to Find Cool Printables

  1. Alisa Burke: I am a huge fan of Alisa Burke and her beautiful work… Did you know she has a free printable colouring page every week!!!
  2. Picklebums: Is a family blog with tons of lovely lovely printables for little people and their families.
  3. BabbleDabbleDo: Is a very cool site full of crafty, creative science and arts for kids, not to mention heaps of useful printables you will find when you wander through past posts.
  4. Lonely Planet Kids: Has brilliant printables to download. Design your own country, how to be a world explorer and more…
  5. The Toy Maker: Has heaps of Free Paper Toys…has heaps of 3-d toys to print out and make.
  6. Activity Village: Has masses of printables for kids, for school and for fun… pages to colour, make and do.
  7. Paper Toys: Has dozens of of printable, ready to fold buildings, landmarks and vehicles to print out.
  8. Creative Park: Amazing, full colour animals, dinosaurs, bugs, marine animals and so much more… to print out and create. As well as scrapbooking goodies, picture frames, calendars… everything you could possibly think of.
  9. A Buzzfeed List: Of the most Amazing Printables. Including a pinhole camera and planner pages, patchwork templates, playing cards, Monopoly money… everything.
  10. Hello Mr Printables: There is so much good stuff to print over here… don’t even go there if you haven’t got all day!!!
  11. The Woodland Trust: Heaps of Fact Packs to Download and Trust.
  12. MooMooKachoo: The blog has so many fun printables… all the time!!!
  13. If you explore Usborne Books: There are lots of printables to discover, especially amongst their Quicklinks.
  14. DK Explore: More fantastic fun things to print out as well, and of course filled with their beautiful photography.
  15. The Wildlife Watch: Includes a stunning collection of beautifully illustrated activity sheets to print out… How to make a bird hide, a compost heap and nettle soup and dozens of others.
  16. Time for Kids: Has tons of printables on mostly school related topics: Space, the environment, animals and so on.

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You can read more about the printer that we have been using over here…

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Huge thank you to HP South Africa for the loan of this very cool printer, we are thrilled to have so many of our photographs printed out. This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ 8 CommentsTags: Reviews

It’s Women’s Day in South Africa…

August 10th, 2016 · 4 Comments

Today is National Women’s Day in South Africa. On this day in 1956 about twenty thousand women of all ages and races walked to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest the country’s pass laws, which were used to enforce the Urban Areas Act, essentially Apartheid in our country. The women left one hundred thousand petitions at the office doors. The song they sang resulted in the expression: “You strike a woman, you strike a rock,” … which is really the slogan that represents women’s courage and strength in South Africa.

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So much has changed and so little has changed in my life time regarding women and their roll in society. Certainly in the academic world you have to wonder how anything was ever so backward. When I was at university, yes it was a while back… but not that far back. I was the only gal in my final year as an undergraduate student, and it was a continuous battle, the guys gave me a hard time, and more than a few lecturers assumed I was in the wrong career because I wasn’t a guy. In fact so much was the anti-female agenda, that I decided to have a complete career change and applied for a bursary through a large engineering company, for a degree that I would have to begin at the beginning again. At my last interview with the company I was told I could have the bursary, but was I sure that I wanted it, since as a woman I would never do more than make the tea for the guys in the office, who were doing the real work. Top corporation, in the 1990’s. Needless to say, I stayed where I was and continued with post graduate studies, in the field I had already begun.

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I grew up in a home where all things were equal, anybody could study and pursue any career they liked, and if you had an ability it was your task to do your best at it… so I soldiered on. I can say there was one female senior lecturer in our department, who was only ever able to submit her assignments under the door of her professor’s office, because he didn’t believe women should be studying science… was that the dark ages? Nope, but possibly eighties. I did eventually change department… to something a little more tolerant of women on the scientific turf.

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To be honest I had forgotten all about the difficulties that were then, until I attended a talk given by Sylvia Earle, and I realised that the unmentionable struggle on how hard it was for gals to study in fields that were considered “for guys,” was pretty universal. For my kids, they cannot imagine a time when guys and gals didn’t study science together, in fact in courses that my high schoolers have taken it is very often more gals in a class than guys… so our culture is a skip and a jump literally from where women were just “not deemed able” to do science, to a time when the world is really available to them.

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So things sure have changed for women in science and engineering alike, in the last half century… but for women who choose to be just moms, well that’s another story. Fifty odd years ago a women who raised her kids and managed her household had earned a certain respect, but fifty years on… it is assumed that you can’t just be a mom and you must have a “real job” as well… interesting about-turn in thinking there. As our culture has aligned our worth with financial earnings, so the role of just moms is considered to be a glorious waste of time. So often folks ask me what work do I do, no really, how do I earn a living or why did I give up my career to have kids… Well to be honest I never saw it as giving up a career, but rather embracing in a new generation. It takes all my years of studying and expertise to manage and raise a gang of kids… it requires enormous amounts of creative energy just to get the boring stuff done, let alone getting to the fun part and creating a little magic for their childhoods.

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I guess what I am saying is that when our children grow up and move into the world I would like them to have the life skills they need to survive and the education to pursue their dreams… but I also want them to stride forward in confidence that they can be who they are because of strong women who have walked before them, who were brave enough to stand up for what they believed, against all odds. It is a high calling they have to answer too.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Thoughtful Thursdays

Book of the Week: The Lemon Tree… and it’s a GiveAway

August 8th, 2016 · 25 Comments

It is clearly the season for great South African stories to be published and this week we are bringing you a new author/illustrator interview and introducing their fabulous story, The Lemon Tree… and read all the way down for a GiveAway as well…

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Let’s Meet the Book

The Lemon Tree published by Penguin Random House South Africa: This is the story of a typical South African home on a rainy day… and Gogo (granny) calls the children, who are dancing outdoors in the refreshing rain, to come inside and make pancakes. Turns out it takes a village to make a plate of pancakes. First they discover that they have no flour, so they take some fresh lemons to the neighbour as a gift. Of course the neighbour asks terribly politely, if there is anything they would like in exchange for the gift, and so the children return home with some flour… and then they need eggs, and milk as well… and (spoiler alert) by the time they have shared their lemons with the neighbours and received the necessary flour, eggs and milk, they realise that they don’t have any lemons left to have with their sugar and cinnamon pancakes. The story is delightful, and the illustrations have a very magical feel to them, bright and busy… there is lots to look at, to keep children of all ages lingering a little longer on each page. It is so good to discover a story that includes so much of our local culture. In order to develop a cultural literacy, children surely need to be immersed in books from their own culture. I love that the book doesn’t have, what is often a not so secretly hidden “educational” agenda… it is a good story and a fun story and one that will enhance the joy of reading for many, many children.

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This book will inspire you to make pancakes, make sure you have all your ingredients ready or very friendly neighbours. We were lucky enough to meet the author, Katherine Graham and illustrator, Wendy Paterson last week at their book launch at the fabulous Book Lounge in the city…

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The Book Lounge

At the Book Lounge again… because this is where books are read and meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of our all time favourite bookshops and well worth a trip into the city on a Saturday morning for a visit… and their regular children’s story time. Take a look at their website to find out about their Saturday morning reads in the basement… even if it isn’t a Saturday morning, they serve a fine coffee and have a stunning children’s book selection, where you will be able to step off the world and vanish for a couple of hours.

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And the Book Launch

So many folk headed for the city for this book launch, it was crazy and it was busy and it was fun. First the team read their book together and showed us the illustrations as they went along. And then kids in the audience were invited to help act it out… and act they did.

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It was spectacular, with a lemon tree and gogo, plenty of neighbours and of course many many lemons…

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There was a drawing lesson and colouring… and masses of happy, busy kids…

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And cake of course, because what is a book launch without a massive cake…

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Let’s Meet the Author: Katherine Graham

  1. Did you always write? I trained as a journalist, but realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that, and then the stories just started to bubble out.
  2. Did you always read? Do you have favourite childhood books? I always read a lot, my favourite childhood book has to be the BFG.
  3. What are you reading right now? I am going through a South African phase, I have been reading Joy Packer and Marguerite Poland.
  4. What is your inspiration, what makes you keep at it? Stories literally bubble out of me, they feel like a gift, and have to be written.
  5. What is your work style, are you disciplined or inspired? I would say I am a combination of discipline and inspired, but I am quite disciplined and enjoy half an hour of free writing every day. It just makes me happier, and my days are so much better when I write. And reading is my research… I am always making notes of interesting quotes and ideas.
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  7. Tell us about your workspace: I work in a study at a desk… with a laptop. I have a lemon tree right outside the window, that I love to look at.
  8. What is your favourite medium, pen and paper or laptop? I use a laptop for most of my writing.
  9. Do you have a message for our readers? Never underestimate the power of perseverance.

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Let’s Meet the Illustrator: Wendy Paterson

  1. Did you always illustrate? I decided when I was ten that I would run the Comrades Marathon and be an illustrator. My matric art teacher discouraged me from a career in art. But I understood that as an exercise in reverse psychology and it pushed me to work harder in that direction.
  2. Did you always read? Do you have favourite childhood books? I went through phases of reading, I would find a good series and latch on to it. Series I loved were C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, Roald Dahl and Alice in Wonderland., in matric I discovered Tolkien. I actually prefer to doodle and draw at night to relax.
  3. What are you reading right now? I prefer to draw and illustrate, but when I do read I want it to be easy reading, like Joanna Trollope’s Daughter’s in Law. And I just discovered Katie Fforde, I love that she writes about real people, these books make you feel “not so bad about yourself because everybody makes mistakes.”
  4. Do you have favourite book illustrators? How you can you name one… I have tons: Quentin Blake, Chris Riddell, Catherine Rayner, Gwen Millward, Oliver Jeffers, Beatrix Potter, Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies, Babette Cole and Korky Paul. And the South Africans: Piet Grobler, Joan Rankin and the fabulous Wendy Hartman.
  5. What is your inspiration? Children and the funny things they say and do. Children give you new eyes to look at things and a completely different perspective, they make you look at things again… nature, cows, bees, bugs, aloes… when she sees something inspiring she quickly draws it, even if it is at a stop light.
  6. What is your work style, are you disciplined or inspired? I lead a very distracted life, my work happens between pets and laundry and kids, I am always dashing about doing something… I get lost on google saving inspiring pictures. And then for a deadline I get into “mission mode:” and work all night and get totally into the project.
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  8. Tell us About Your Work Space and What is your favourite medium to work in?: I have a huge upstairs studio, with a lovely view of Table Mountain. I keep a pin board filled with new ideas and inspiration. I have two desks covered in stuff, and when they get too full I draw on the floor. My favourite medium has to be pen and watercolours. I use Uniballs and the cheapest possible Reeves watercolours.
  9. Do you have a message for our Readers? Don’t give up on your dreams.


The GiveAway

We have a copy of The Lemon Tree to give to one of our readers somewhere in the world. All you have to do to stand a chance of winning is leave a comment, before the end of play on Saturday 13 August 2016. In the spirit of promoting local book creators, we would love so many of our readers to leave a comment… and stand a chance of winning. If you don’t have small children enter away and gift this lovely story on.

We will draw and publish the winner in the Fabulous Fun Post after the 13 August. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

We would like to thank the author/illustrator team for their time and the publishers Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with the book to review and the book to giveaway. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are as usual my own.

→ 25 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · GiveAways and Swaps

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #326

August 8th, 2016 · No Comments

And so we have been busy… the sun was out the whole of last week, and so were we. It isn’t warm mind you, but it is sunny… and so we are enjoying the great outdoors… and then of course the Olympics have begun and there will be a fortnight of crazy sleep as some folk around here stay up late to watch their favourite athletes.

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Otherwise we have another GiveAway about to launch, in our next post… and it is a fabulous one…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. A couple of weeks back we posted about our week of volunteering, well here are the seniors we helped, enjoying a day out at the Table Mountain CableWay, while we painted their clubhouse.
  2. Kids Activities Blog has Olympic Crafts Covered… look no further!!!
  3. Follow Get Out With the Kids on this incredible challenge, if you have a thing for the English countryside.
  4. Blogtacular have done it again: Absolutely everything you need to know about Instagram Stories… the what, the where, the why and the how.
  5. Interesting World travel and Exams Around the World in the Atlantic.
  6. I have noticed that our evening ambles have become more consistent and it is suddenly easier to walk further and further… the other day we happily managed 15 km, which would have been unheard of at the start of our hiking journey, even a year ago we probably couldn’t have managed that. So I loved this post from Zen Habits, love the idea of a Long Walk, to sort any proverbial cobwebs.
  7. Imagine Childhood’s 10 summer Scrumptious Summer Recipes… Some of us in the Southern Hemisphere are just slightly beginning to long for summer…


A Blast From the Past:

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And it Is World BreastFeeding Week:


From the mom who nursed her kids about forever…

And a GiveAway Winner

All the entries…

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Carefully chosen…
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Catjuggles: July 27, 2016 at 1:56 pm Oh we would love to win these!
Congratulations Cat, expect an email from us shortly, so that we can get your prize to you speedily!!!

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Meanwhile our friends at Footprints on our Land, wanted our homeschooling friends to know about their Curriculum competition, which is also a charity fundraiser.

That’s us… Hope you are all had a fabulous weekend!!!

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→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun