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

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Se7en’s November and Your Free Printable Calendar…

November 1st, 2018 · No Comments

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And suddenly it is November again… wishing you all the best month ahead full of lots of exciting plans and adventures…

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You are welcome to click on the calendar page, it will open in a new tab, print it out and then colour it and fill in the days that you want to celebrate… pop it on the fridge and you are good to go. You can still find all the calendar pages down the right hand side of our website and they are all gathered together in our Almanac page for easy searching… If you have holidays or ideas that you would like to add then please go ahead and comment, I would love to have our calendars packed to the brim!!!

→ No CommentsTags: Activity Calendar

A Nice November Challenge Just for You…

October 31st, 2018 · 2 Comments

And now for something completely different… I have just listened to Gretchen Ruben’s Happiness Project again. I love all her books, I have listened to them multiple times. They inspire me to raise my game and try new things and just do the right thing. And folks, let this be a warning to you… I may not have been blogging much this last month, but I sure have been sleeping and I am beside myself with energy. I thought while I am full of energy and on an inspiration roll that I would challenge you all to a month of being nice to yourselves. I am a mom, this post is as much for you as it is for me… Let’s make Nice November a thing…

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I am not kidding, we treat our kids like royalty, we check on our friends, we make sure the extended family is up to date… but traditionally we don’t give much thought to ourselves. You know moms are a downtrodden bunch (!), I am not even kidding. They do so much of the work… and we are heading into the crazy season, that time of year where teachers need gifts, your kids’ end of year functions explode in every direction, unexpected events that require “a plate of eats,” work functions and “must keep” traditions are overwhelming… one glance at the calendar makes you want to crawl under your bed and hide at least until March next year.

So here’s the thing, I challenge you to do one small thing, that’s just for you… each day during the month of November. I don’t mean a day at the Spa, I don’t even mean buying a new outfit… I mean – intentional, nearly no spending treats for yourself. You know you need it… we treat our kids all the time… but we don’t treat ourselves. So here are thirty ideas of things you could do… just for you during November… and we all know it takes 21 days to create a habit… before next year even starts you could be ready for a year of intentional living…

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Thirty Thrifty Treats, That You Can Gift Yourself

  1. Drink a cup of tea while it is still hot… I know, this is obscure, but the world will not actually collapse if the house has to wait five minutes for you to just enjoy a cup of tea.
  2. You know how you scurry around to tidy the house for visitors, well set the clock for half an hour earlier… and then sit in your own home and enjoy it… for just those few minutes enjoy the home you live in.
  3. Set the table nicely for dinner, just once, you might be surprised your family might raise their game and enjoy it.
  4. Never underestimate the power of candles… light a candle at the dinner table, even a left over birthday candle still holds a little magic. Yes, someone is going to blow it out, someone is going to squabble about who should get to blow it out, but there will be a moment… when its good. Enjoy that moment!!!
  5. Start a dream notebook… and just write down on or two things you would like to do, another time write down one or two movies you would like to see, one or two books you would like to read, places you would like to visit… its just a dream notebook, you can be as wild as you like.
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  7. Get some fresh air… have your morning coffee on the front stairs, instead of gulping half of it at the kitchen sink… be intentional… stop, pause and savor it.
  8. Create a basket of things you need for relaxing… it may be a notebook and pen, and a sudoku pen… it may be your special flavoured tea bags. It may be the blanket you like to nap under… whatever it is, gear up for that time that is yours.
  9. Gift yourself with an early night… go to bed when the kids go to bed… and go to sleep. Trust me you will feel like a million dollars the next day.
  10. Spend fifteen minutes dreaming about that trip you have always longed for… create a Pinterest board, or a scrapbook page… or a page in your dream notebook… start thinking about it… it may never happen, but if you haven’t started planning then it definitly will never happen!!!
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  12. Start a windowsill garden… gardens make us feel better, green things are good for us… you don’t have to buy expensive plants from a nursery… next time you are visiting a friend with a beautiful succulent garden… ask for a couple of leaves… pop them in an old yogurt container and watch them grow… you will be surprised at how happy this can make you!!!
  13. You know that one project you have been meaning to do all year, and you haven’t started yet… make a list of what you need to get started. My project was to paint a desk… well… I haven’t even looked at the price of paint yet… but start.
  14. Go through the photos on your phone and pick one favourite from each month. You don’t have to sort a years worth of photographs… you have to pick twelve. Pop them in a folder called 2018… and be done.
  15. Clean out one closet, or one drawer, or one shelf… it is carthatic… spend fifteen minutes while your kids are getting into bed and sort the books on their bookshelf… boom done, job done and you will feel so much better for it.
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  17. Watch a movie or a series that you actually want to watch… go ahead. Choose something that you really want to watch. I know I never get to choose (!). Make it a big deal, tell everyone you have a fantastic movie to share with them, choose well they may even let you choose again!!!
  18. Do a small task that you know you would enjoy doing, but you keep putting off for “more important” things. Just today I planted a punnet of herbs that have been sitting in my yard waiting to be planted out for weeks, it literally took five minutes and I loved it.
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  20. Get out of your food rut… go through a recipe book and find two or three new easy recipes to try, especially pick recipes where you have most of the ingredients… you really can find them. If you have always wanted to make pasta… then set aside time this month and just make yourself some pasta… you totally can do it and you will have fun doing it. Make a loaf of bread… it is cathartic, its doable and its fun.
  21. Call a friend, even better have coffee together… head for the beach, grab a coffee, the kids can play and you can chat… its good for the soul, try it.
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  23. Download an audible book that you have been dying to read, but you are never free to read. Treat yourself… if you sign up for audible, you get the first book for free… try it.
  24. Gift yourself with a magazine, head outdoors to a spot where the kids can play, spread out a blanket and just enjoy the moment… when you are done, gift the magazine onto a friend. Then she can enjoy it too!!!
  25. Take fifteen minutes to put up a calendar, and mark off a couple of non-negotiable “time-out” days for you and your family. No playdates, no visitors, no phonically… just let it go days.
  26. Learn something, remember that language you always wanted to learn… download the Duolingo APP, its free!!! And spend one or two minutes a day learning a new word. It works, you can do this and by the end of the month you will have learnt a whole lot more than you new at the start of the month.
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  28. Move, do some real exercise not every day, especially if its not your thing… but if you love swimming, then make this the month that you get yourself into the water. Go for a walk, dont just watch your kids skipping, grab their skipping rope and take a turn… its hard, but not impossible and you might find you have a hidden talent.
  29. Go and explore somewhere you have never been before, ever. New things are fun, it doesn’t have to be somewhere pricey… a walk through a different part of town, a market you have never been to before. Take some photos, make some memories and have fun.
  30. Write a postcard to someone you know will love it… and never expect it. Trust me no-one gets snail mail anymore … you will feel great sending it, and they will feel great receiving it… win/win.
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  32. Eat fruit… I don’t know why, but making the effort to buy fruit and eat it, makes me happy. Not just a bag of boring old lunch box apples. Treat yourself to the perfect peach or a giant watermelon. Take it home and really enjoy it.
  33. Find a pile of “shoulds” around the house: the book you should read, but know you never will; the sweater you should love but you can’t want to wear; the nicnak that you hate but was a gift fifteen years ago; the educational game that everyone hates and you will never ever play… pop all your “shoulds” into a box and give them to a friend… a good friend will get rid of them for you!!!
  34. Look at your calendar and let something go… I am not kidding, this is the silly season… no-one will miss you if you don’t attend one of the ten Carol Services that you have scheduled. Really, there are things that you don’t have to do. The trick is not to fill that time with another responsibility… treat yourself, go and browse in a bookshop… wander through a nursery, go out for ice-cream.
  35. Plan ahead for things, very occasionally like once or twice in forever my family has scattered in different directions and I have had no idea what to do with myself. If you don’t have a plan then you waste that time, I made a promise to myself that is everyone is out, or even almost everyone is out, then I won’t catch up on chores… I will do something that I want to do instead… potter around, read a book, enjoy the silence… a million things. You have to plan for it and pop your plan into your dream notebook, just in case!!!
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  37. Remember when colouring books were all the rage, and yours has been sitting on a shelf for ever… well pop an audible book on that you can all enjoy together and while the kids are drawing their own pictures, commit to colouring in, just the length of a chapter. Honestly, you will be surprised… we listened the whole way through the Little House on the Prairie Series like this… I doodled, I coloured, I made sure everyone had access to all the pens and pencils necessary, hit play and give your kids a chance… they will get better at it, and everyone doing their own thing. A corner of a page is better than nothing… just start.
  38. Use all those things that you are keeping for a special day… wear that perfume, use that pretty notebook that you got for your birthday. Light that candle… use that delicious soap… this is the month of doing something lovely for yourself… Just use the lovely stuff… it was most likely gifted to you, with the intention that you would enjoy it. I know I got things to my friends in the hopes that they will enjoy it, but most likely they are like me and save these little treats up for a rainy day… this is your rainy season… when you need all the encouragement you can get. Use those treats up right now, and don’t even think of regifting them. And thank me later.

That’s a start… I could carry on with this list forever… Just simple ideas, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, I am sure you have your own ideas. The intention is to be a little nicer to yourself. Treat yourself as you would a friend… don’t wait till you are rock bottom and collapse in a heap and sleep… if you have a tough day… and this is the crazy season, when things can escalate fast… treat yourself right. Gift yourself with a little fresh air, a walk in the park or an early night. The world will go on, the dishes will get done and the laundry will continue to pile up… but you will feel a whole lot better about it.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Healthy Living · Thoughtful Thursdays

What We Have Been Reading from Jonathan Ball Publishers…

October 26th, 2018 · 2 Comments

I thought it would be great to set you up with some weekend reading. It is time for some book news, because we have been reading and reading. I fully intend to bring you some bookish news in the next week or two, because we have some fantastic reads… just in time for our long lazy days of summer, unless of course you are heading into cosy weekends and are living in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Heroic Picture Books



Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter: Let’s begin by saying that Wangari Maathai is on of my all time heroes. Anyone that plants trees to regreen Africa, that starts with a tree and another and another… until she has planted a forest is beyond magic. And then inspired the local women to join her in planting seeds of peace. And now we have a beautiful picture book to share her story. Wangari was born in Kenya, and her outstanding ability meant that she received a scholarship to study overseas, where she received first a bachelors and then a Masters degree in Biological Sciences… she returned to Kenya to discover the horrors of deforestation… no firewood for locals, soil erosion and poor soil… no crops, where once plants and forests had flourished.
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She began small, really small and made a huge difference. I love this picture book, the illustrations are rich in colour, the story is empowering. Fantastic read to add to your story pile.

Storytime Silliness



You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Digger by Patricia Cleveland Peck: With illustrator David Tazzyman at the helm, that’s the illustrator for Mr Gum, you can’t go wrong with this picture book. You Can’t Let and Elephant Drive a Digger is a hilarious, romp through the absurdity of childhood… You might not want an elephant in your digger, or let an polar bear cut your hair, you might not like a shark in your bath… or a seal to prepare your meal… it could get really stinky!!! You most likely don’t want to have a wolf read your bedtime story and the last thing you want is a skunk to share your bunk…
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This book is a little bit a chaos, and a lot of bright and funky colour. It is delightful and pure fun… lots of twists and perfect for some story time silliness!!!

Puppy Heaven



Picking Pickle, which dog will you choose? By Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy: Adorable Pickle is “Pup in charge” at the animal shelter, and Pickle is there to show you around and help you to choose a puppy. He shows you the champion, Geraldo; hungry Harvey; Clever Dumpling that can speak five languages; Marvellous Matilda; and wooohooo Wiggins; Dancing Dibble and Sporty Boo-Boo; not to mention Poochy Petunia Wuffles – Winstanley.
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Pickles is the most unassuming and gorgeous little pup and he shows you every other dog in the shelter’s strengths… they are fabulous, fantastic and unique… and then there is plain old Pickles. And then he waits hopefully for the special news to pass on to the dog who gets to go home with you. This is a very special book for a young dog lover, who will love it to bits. You can meet Polly Faber over here, and the delightful Clara Vulliamy over here.

The World Through a Child’s Eyes.



Quick Barney, Run! By Pip Jones and Laura Hughes.
This book is a delightful picture book about Barney and his big sister, who are technically not home alone, but,
“It’s raining, it’s pouring.
And Daddy is snoring.
Mummy is working.
Oh, EVERYTHING”S BORING.”

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On this terribly dull day… these two little people get up to a wild adventure that takes them in and out of closets, over oceans to distant lands, down into the depths of the basement and through the jungle… there is a sleeping gibbon that needs its hair decorated, and a colourful bird tapping at her seeds (keyboard), and the most marvellous tiger (marmalade cat). This story is a picture of a childhood wild and free… it is delightful and captured our attention right from the start. A great and boisterous read, perfect for all kinds of story times!!! This book has to be a favourite!!! You can meet Pip Jones on her website here, and illustrator, Laura Hughes over here.

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Emerging Reader Biography



Emmeline by Haydn Kaye and illustrated by Michael Cotton-Russel: This is a great read for an emerging reader, especially one who loves heroic biographies and a little history. This is the story of Emmeline Pankhurst, a feisty gal from the turn of the last century… who was determined to get a fair deal in the world for girls.
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My children were shocked to discover just how unfair things were for women… shocked… and so they should be. While we continue to fight for rights, we really need to take a look back at those folk who never gave up. There is a sweet factor, a cartoon character of Emmeline that talks to the author throughout the story. And interwoven throughout the story are spreads of carefully and wonderfully illustrated fact pages explaining terminology and interesting features about the life and times of Emmeline. This book is one of a series, called First Names. It’s a great read and once you have read it, you will not forget who Emmeline Pankhurst was, or more importantly, what she stood for.

Middle School Mystery



The Secret of Agatha Oddly by Lena Jones: Oh, if you are looking for a funtastic Middle Grade read… a mystery with a very funky heroine, then this is the one. Agatha is named after the ultimate sleuth writer, Agatha Christie. She is a delight… she takes no nonsense from the “Cool Girls” at school, she stands up to bullies and all in all she is all-round spunky. She is sleuth on the brink if a big case, and the big case has found her in “The Secret Key.” Agatha, with the help of some great friends, is determined to discover what is wrong with the water supply in London, why is all the water turning into sludge and why oh why does her world keep intersecting with some very suspicious characters… everyone she meets seems to know part of the story… but they all need Agatha to put it all together. This is a great read for the chapter book brigade… highly recommend Agatha and look forward to more books in this series. You can read more about Agatha Oddly at National Geographic Kids.
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Middle Grade Absolutely Must Read



Boy Underwater by Adam Baron, illustrated by Benji Davies: The hero of this book is called Cymbeline Igloo, what a name… that already perked my interest, and he cannot swim. In a boastful moment he ends up not only nearly drowning, but to his mortification, (spoiler alert) losing his swimming trunks. In fact he loses more than that… Cymbeline narrates the story to you, and he begins as a somewhat self-absorbed lad, but the drama of losing his swimming trunks in front of the entire school, is nothing compared to the drama of his entire life. This book is so much deeper than a pair of swimming trunks and the school pool. His mum has mental health issues and somehow his swimming event triggers a complete breakdown for her… Cym, will have to figure out why, a question he has never thought to ask before. As Cym is on the cusp of coming of age, his reality opens up from just a boy living his life, to discovering that adults have lives too… there is that moment when you realise it isn’t all about you… this is that book. Adults have lives and they can be messy lives, but you are still loved and your best friends will stand by you, and you are going to be okay. This book is a book aimed at middle schoolers, and it deals with lots of issues in a light hearted way. Honestly, I think this is a fantastic read… Boy Underwater is definitely a play on words, not only can Cym not swim, but his life is literally spinning out of control, as he continues with the day to day stuff. Kids live in the world, where people grieve, where things fall apart, and where life gets messy and yet very few books, that cover topics like these, are written for kids. Excellent read, pop it onto your tweens reading pile… it is light, its extremely funny, its heartbreaking and heartwarming. This book gets our full stamp of approval. You can read about the author, Adam Baron over here. And meet the illustrator, Benji Davies, over here.

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The Key to Flambards by Linda Newbery: This is a teen comfort read… if you are looking for easy reading and pleasant break from the world then this is a great read. Fourteen year old Grace is starting life over, after being caught in a hit and run the year before, and an accident so terrible that her parents marriage couldn’t survive… she has had to relearn to walk, and that was the easy part. Her mum decides to take a summer job in the country as the media writer and last hope for a Manor House retreat, a business that is sinking financially. Grace has to tag along of course. Not quite the fresh start she was hoping for, but it is indeed a fresh start. Interesting thing, this book is filled with Manor House history, that links back to the original series of the Flambards by K.M.Peyton. This book is in fact, written with permission from K.M.Peyton and if you have read the original series, then this is something to look forward too, I on the other hand am a little intrigued and think I may have to go and look up the previous series in the library. Back to the story, Grace’s entire life has been disrupted by things beyond her control, and this book is really her journey, as she learns how to be independent. She becomes somewhat of a hero and discovers new friends and new passions. She also becomes intrigued with the history of the manor, as she discovers her connection with the people of the past. It is a teen read a short saga type read and there are hints at relationships, but this book is more about friendship and fresh starts.

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Teen/YA – Thriller… Indeed



DreamFall by Amy Plum: Amy Plum writes series, you’ll be glad of that, because they are good. Her teen/young adult reads are fast and furious and edgy and once you get into them you can not be able to put it down. I met Amy Plum on twitter a number of years back, before I even knew she was a writer… and then I absolutely love her first series of books and have kept on reading ever since. While we are all living in a world where sleep is becoming more and more of an issue, a group of troubled teens are about to take part in a medical programme to try and help them to sleep. All seven of the teens are suffering from debilitating insomnia and psychological problems abound. For various reasons, they are all extremely sleep deprived. And that is just the set up. In a very stark and clinical test, they are all medicated and then the power fails, a massive malfunction. It appears that all the study participants have all fallen into a deep coma, and the staff are stuck between trying to rouse these teens and hush up their disaster. The teens, however, find themselves in limbo, in a frightening dream space, where they each have to struggle through their own personal nightmare. They are challenged to the max, and have to work as a team to conquer their fears. But why, what is on the other side? Creepy… very. Alarming… that as well. This is not a deep and profound read, but it is a great escape from reality and there is more to look forward too, because it is the first in a series. Pop over to Amy Plum’s website to meet the main players in the book.

Classic Mystery


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The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes: I really loved this book, it feels like a weekend away. A genteel mystery, it was the perfect mini-break for me. The book opens with an introduction to eighteen year old Luisa Cannon, who lives with her laundrywoman mum, and her very sinister uncle. When she realises the unsavoury intentions her uncle has for her… she has to escape, and her only chance is to become a nanny for the wealthy Mitford family. On her way to her interview she meets a railway policeman, called Guy… and their story twists and turns through the main theme of the book, which is to determine whatever happened to the goddaughter of Florence Nightingale who is found murdered on the train to Brighton. The murder, in broad daylight, of Florence Nightingale Shore, is the actual truth and remains an unsolved murder to this day. Reliable and trusting Luisa, along with the oldest and carefree Mitford daughter, Nancy, find themselves more and more entangled in the crime. The deeper they look into the facts, the more people that could be accountable emerge. Someone they know must have been responsible for the crime, but who? There is a fabulous twist. I loved this book, it is the first in a series and I can’t wait for more. Set in the 1920’s, the book wanders in and out of the lives of the main players, and in and out of the friendship between Luisa and the investigating policeman, Guy and of course Nancy. You can meet the author,Jessica Fellowes on her website here.

“Tis the Thriller Season for This One.



While you Sleep by Stephanie Merritt: This is a very seasonal book to read, if I did Halloween then this would be the book to read. I have to say there are some fairly explicit scenes in this book and if you aren’t in to that it isn’t for you. Other than that, it is really creepy and there were moments when I literally couldn’t put the book down. This is the story of a women, who needs to get away from it all and she books herself a month long retreat in a beautiful manor, on a remote Island off the coast of Scotland. From the moment that she arrives on the island, things start to go strangely for her. She feels watched all the time, she notices things have moved around the house… and There is more at stake than just the usual shenanigans and politics of small towniness. She discovers that in the last year a child has literally vanished from the Manor, and the age old stories that surround the Manor House means that it is hard to untangle the reality from the hearsay. The point is locals believe in all the ghosts and Zoe’s rational brain thinks it is something much more sinister… and then her estranged husband arrives on the scene to save the day, and definitely does the exact opposite. This book is spooky indeed, and yes Zoe was right about there being something sinister going on in town… not to mention that there is a lot more going on, in and around town, than the locals would ever want an “interloper” like Zoe to know about it. Not to mention an extreme twist. If you like creepy, then you have found a great read.

Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers for supplying this fabulous collection of books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all the opinions are as usual my own.

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Se7en Visits Robben Island for A Beach Clean Up…

October 22nd, 2018 · No Comments

It is National Marine Month in South Africa, and I wanted to share a recent adventure that we went on, thanks to the Beach Co-Op. Last minute call, “Can we join the clean-up team on a trip to Robben Island?” And yes of course we could. Robben Island has been on our bucket list for years and one of Cape Town’s Big World Heritage Sites, that we have never managed to visit before.

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I love this photo, not perfect, but all the elements… Robben Island with Cape Town in the background, totally the opposite view to our usual one. It was a very cold and early start for the gang… we had to get way across the city before the Friday morning traffic hit.
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It was quite an achievement, and we made it, even if we didn’t have time for coffee on the way.
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Our vessel was waiting for us… and off we went. “Good Bye Cape Town,” and about half an hour later… “Hello, Robben Island.”
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The Reason for the Season


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Our purpose for visiting the island was to clean up litter on a grand scale… Upon arrival we were split into groups and then every hundred meters or so, along the circular road… teams were dropped.

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We were armed with gloves and beach cleanup bags from seal and gear, and buckets of enthusiasm…
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Documenting our finds all the way…
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Dozens and dozens of plastic bottles and even more cooldrink bottle tops, not to mention carrier bags… together we collected about 15 bags of trash, including an entire bag of really weird stuff…
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Let’s just pause and talk about the trash… a lot of the beach cleanups that we do are in the more remote parts of Cape Point Nature Reserve. Yes a marine reserve, with very little human traffic passing through it, a handful of hikers a week at the most… the garbage we collect there is washed onshore, from passing ships… gloves, shoes, plastic containers, litter from poachers and of course a lot of fishing twine.
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The other cleanups we do are in Muizenberg, along with the beach co-op, we collect a couple of buckets of garbage every month… the kind of garbage we find are plastic bags, straws and sweetie wrappers… and fishing tackle.
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But the trash on Robben Island was different to both of these… it was plentiful, there was masses of it. We did not have to look for it we just had to pick it up. The question many folk ask us was where did all the garbage come from? About 150 people live there, and even though there are thousands of tourists passing through, the tourists don’t pass through the area that we were cleaning up. So, where does the garbage come from?
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The question we should be asking is where does your litter go… because every scrap of litter goes somewhere. When you drop a piece of paper in a parking lot, or in the street in ends up in the gutter, the water flows from the gutter into the drains and when it rains, down the drains and into our sea… its not a surprise… it is the way it is everywhere. Litter ends up in the ocean… if you live in a city far from the ocean, or of you live along the coast like we do, your litter ultimately goes into the ocean.
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Robben Island, just across the bay from a huge city like Cape Town is in the firing line so to speak, as Cape Town’s litter flows into the sea and out into the ocean, Robben Island acts as a basket, gathering it all as it passes by. I can tell you that any litter you have tossed in the street in Cape Town in the last couple of months, my kids and I, and a team of eco-warriors picked up, along the shores of Robben Island.
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We need anti-littering campaigns now like never before… I remember as a small child, at anti-litter campaign that came to our school, very firmly pledging to never, ever litter. And I meant it. We need a world wide campaign… until people start realising where their garbage goes they will not change…
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Let’s look beyond the litter


Apart from the history of this site, there is a reason it is a heritage site, unprecedented natural beauty…
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On a coastal island… with ship wrecks and seabirds…
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Of course there were sea shells…
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But the true magic was in the season… nesting season, and a whole lot of magic… each egg is unique, and each one a delight.

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We learnt on our bus tour, that the reason they no longer have any buck on the island is that the wild life were consuming so much plastic and they were suffering terribly because of it. Every little bit of litter really does add up.
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And a Quick Tour…


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All Thanks to the Beach Co-Op


Thanks to the Beach Co-op for the invitation…
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The total cleanup consisted of a team of 99 people, who collected about 170 full bags of marine debris. The highest item collected was cooldrink lids at 2469, followed by individual sweet wrappers at 1197 and finally straws at 963.

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We had a blast… I know it sounds crazy to train up your kids to collect garbage… but we have to start somewhere and believe that every little bit we collect helps.
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The Gallery…


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Fast Facts…


If you are looking to visit Robben Island, then take a look at the website. If you are a local, like us and you realise it is one of those spots that is hoping to attract the overseas market, rather than locals… you can make full use of Museum Night at the V and A Waterfront, when the museum section of Robben Island Tours, the Nelson Mandela Gateway, is open to the public and you can walk around and read a lot of the history, without an actual trip to the island. Otherwise, a fantastic and free resource for everyone to visit, where you can really learn a lot about the history of Robben Island during the apartheid era, is a little museum on Jetty 1. All of us found it interesting, and you can stay and linger for as long as you need to before moving on to other sites at the Waterfront.

Click on the image to see all the photos from our day out…

Robben Island Cleanup

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Se7en Things That You Need to Know Right Now…

October 20th, 2018 · No Comments

Hope your weekend is totally fabulous and you are enjoying the season you are in… I oh so slightly fell off the blogging bus… because life got really hectic. But hay, we get up again… and right back where we left off…

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  1. Where We Have Been:
  2. Since this month began we have been to Robben Island for a massive cleanup, spent a week adventuring in the Karoo, done more clean-ups, hiked a little more, celebrated another birthday. Done ALL our usual school, been to gym daily, run two actual races and tutored some scholars we know for their end of year math exams. Can I just mention we had a last minute 21st celebration at the end of last month, and the “slight” associated chaos… Not to mention it is Spring… and I have sprung full tilt into major cleaning out the house mode.

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    The view of my days just lately

    In the past, I would have just slept less and less and kept on blogging, and I tried that… but seriously, sleepless nights are a thing of the past for me. I have to face the facts that if you get up at five in the morning, and only finish teaching at 9:30 at night, then you really can’t go log post after that. However… you will be glad to know that I have taken lots of photographs, and when I haven’t been able to get to a computer… I have been reading up a storm… so we have a lot of adventurous posts and book reviews coming your way.

  3. Reading and Listening:
  4. Why has no-one ever recommended the Mysterious Benedict Society to us before… this book is a fabulous all ages book and we are loving it. Full of puzzles and “aha” moments, not to mention funny. We are loving it… it is the story of a boy and his friends who are trying to solve a series of puzzles… and they are extremely good at it, in their own way. A truly feel good read that requires you to think on your feet as you read through it!!! Otherwise, for your listening pleasure, my younger kids are loving all things to do with Earth Ranger Emma, on Earth Rangers Podcast. Amazing and incredible animal facts, its short and sweet, 15 minutes max and my kids love it!!!

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  5. I Have Been Blogging over at Sport Science:
  6. My usual monthly post on the ins and outs of getting in shape and “Where I am at in September,” and then I also reviewed the Sport Science Online Sleep Programme… it is the best sleep resource I have ever worked with. If you want to understand your sleep and practical ways on how to improve it, then this is the course to take. The best thing about it is that it is online, so you can really join in from anywhere.

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  7. We have some GiveAWay Winners:
  8. A while back we had some giveaways on the blog and along with all the craziness that has been going on here: DK’s Crafty Gifts and The Girl Who Smiled Beads. I never got to post the winners. So huge congratulations to Ronel and Cassey… your books will be with you shortly.

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  9. Next Weekend is the 24th Cape Town Kite Festival:
  10. The 24th Cape Town International Kite Festival is at Zandvlei, Muizenberg (corner of Axminster and The Row) on 27 and 28 October, from 10 am to 6 pm. There is lots of parking at Muizenberg High School and access by train (False Bay or Muizenberg stations). Entry is R40 (R15 for children 12 years and under). Everything you need to know is on their website, over here.

  11. Links I Have Been Looking At Lately:
  12. Where to Find Us:
  13. When you can’t find us on our blog, you can always find us on Instagram… where we share a lot of our daily life or Flickr, where all the photos from every adventure, get loaded up. Pinterest is where we share projects that we think you will enjoy, and finally twitter, where I tweet about books and environmental goodies…

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Fun

Se7en Reviews: Jamie Cooks Italy…

October 12th, 2018 · No Comments

It has been a while since we reviewed a Jamie Oliver cookbook and this one is superb. Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver. If you are trying to eat a rainbow on a daily basis, then this is a great book to start experimenting with. The best way to get into a new cookbook in our house is to leave it on the coffee table for a couple of days… if I leave it there long enough I very soon find post-it-notes lining the pages as folk tag recipes that they want to try. As you can imagine this cookbook very quickly filled with tags… so I went through the bookmarked recipes and chose se7en to try and share with our readers…

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One thing about Jamie Oliver recipes is that because he is cooking for his own family, the recipes are designed with families in mind. Most of them have ingredients that you can pick out or leave off for that one picky eater, but saying that, they are full of ingredients that we don’t eat every day – so lots of interesting things to try. The joy of his choice of ingredients is that you can usually find them in the local supermarket, and if you can’t find the ingredients you can easily exchange them for something that you can get in season, or locally.
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Jamie Cook’s Italy took two years to create, as he travelled around Italy with his best friend Gennaro Contaldo. Together they explored and tasted their way through recipes in each region, created by the nonno’s and nonna’s of Italy. These are recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, real food that real Italians cook in their homes. The book is packed with little tips and tricks that turn previously “too difficult to even try” recipes into recipes that we can create in our home everyday. This book is a taste bud delight… 400+ pages, packed with 140 recipes… and all things Italian. Fresh seasonal ingredients and recipes cooked from the heart of Italy. Really is there anything better than Grandma’s cooking, in whatever language you are speaking?
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We got together with friends and created a family feast for many… it was definitely a chance for the kids to be in the kitchen, to try new flavours and create beautiful food that they really wanted to eat… We are going to give you a tour of the recipes we tried…

Se7en Recipes We Tried and Tested

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Matera Salad


This recipe really does pass not only the rainbow test of healthy eating, but it packs a whole lot of crunch into it too… not to mention, just layering it up takes a bunch of individual ingredients to a whole, new and somewhat sublime level… This feels like a plate of summer sunshine and even on a wintry day it would bring a whole new level of warmth to your table…
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A delicious dressing over layers of oranges, red cabbage, cucumber, carrots, mint, apples, rocket… and we couldn’t find a ball of burrata cheese, so settled on a soft creamy cheese… to which one inspired tester decided to add camembert as well… as one does!!!
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Corteccia


Corteccia is Italian for tree bark, and with eight kids standing by and a large batch of pasta dough, it was surprisingly quick to create a massive batch of pasta… without any of the hassle of mastering the pasta machine and rolling it out. Simple pinch a small piece of dough off the batch, roll it into a little sausage and squash your fingers into them, like peas in a pod… shake the noodle off your fingers and you are good to begin the next one. Once you have a pile of noodles ready to cook, you can whip up his broccoli pesto,… though we didn’t have enough broccoli lovers to make this worth our while, so we swapped it out and used baby spinach. Baby spinach, garlic, anchovies, chilli flakes, olive oil and lemon juice… so quick so easy… and truly delicious.
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Potato Gnocchi


Gotta say, we have never ever tried gnocchi before, it just seems like too much work and to buy it in the store for a family of ten seemed somewhat over the top. Well let me just say, we were wrong… this is the ultimate comfort food, everywhere. While it was a very labour intensive for our first attempt, we will definitely be making it again. Easy to follow, step-by-step photographs with Nonna Teresa from Roma, we really couldn’t go wrong. And since my husband and I spent a month living on Campo d’Fiori in Rome, the year before we had children… we could very well have sampled her famous Gnocchi in real life, this recipe was a “simply must try” recipe. I mean what isn’t to love about mash potato, smoothed into a creamy pasta, cooked and stirred through garlic butter, and then topped with home made tomato sauce… really a bit of a game changer.
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Carrot Caponata


We didn’t intend to cook this recipe at all… but when one of your kids asks to cook “That Carrot Recipe” more than once… you make it happen. What could possibly go wrong: Carrots and red onions, chillies and garlic, sunflower seeds, raisins, a drizzle of honey and red wine vinegar… Nothing went wrong… these were so lovely, and so worth going the extra mile that I would never normally do when cooking carrots, frankly we could eat just these for lunch on a daily basis.

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Neapolitan Pizza Base


Moving on to Neapolitan Pizza, that has since become our Sunday night tradition… pizzas are the epitome of Italian cooking and while we have been making pizzas for years… these are so easy to create. Make the base early on a Sunday and then later on in the evening as kids drift in from their weekend, we can all create pizzas as we chat about our weekend happenings… its a good thing and exactly the right sorts of zero effort sort of celebration that I am prepared to rustle up on a Sunday night. Classic Margherita’s made by the meter… and you can find the recipe and a video on how to create them over here.
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Mozzerella Bread


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Can we talk about this dreamy lunchtime, actually anytime, treat for a moment. All the delicious flavours, rolled up in a bread dough and cut into wheels, then baked and it will be eaten long before it has a chance to cool. Delicious cheeses and a filling packed with a mixture of goodies that my kids don’t normally eat: capers and green olives, just saying… but something that looks and smells so delicious has to be tried and so we have added some new ingredients to our repertoire. The recipe suggests, smashing the flavours together in a pestle and mortar, clearly we weren’t strong enough for this and one zap in the blender did the trick.

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Ice Cream Sandwiches


And it wouldn’t be a family recipe book without desserts, and it wouldn’t be Italian without ice cream… Welcome to the ice-cream sandwich that hails from Sicilia. Brioche buns take a fair while to create, but they are so worth it. There is a lot of resting and waiting, especially with eager recipe testers all lined up and ready to try something new. These are such a fun dessert, just leave the toppings and the ice-cream out and everyone can create their own. Honestly, I am not a big sandwich eater, ever… but sandwiches like these might change my mind!!!
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You can discover more about Jamie Cooks Italy, and find recipes on his website by following the link here. And you can watch the Jamie Cooks Italy TV series on Youtube…





Previous Jamie Oliver Posts

We were gifted this book, for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Cook Book Reviews · Family Recipes

Happy Brilliant Belated Birthday to Hood 5…

October 8th, 2018 · 2 Comments

And for the first time ever, we celebrated a birthday while being away… Hood 5 had a birthday while we were hiking our way through the Karoo. Gotta say, how did we manage that, with ten birthdays a year. In fact when it comes to birthdays, we are in that sweet spot where everyone has had their’s for the year and we realised that we have celebrated: 21 + 19 + 17 + 15 + 14 + 12 + 10 + 9 = 117 kids’ birthdays… that’s a whole lot of birthdays and no wonder our celebrations are ridiculously simple!!!

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This is a kid that works his way to the top…
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He enjoys the view from up there…
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Always, always ready to lend a helping hand…
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To whoever needs a helping hand…
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Loves everything to do with hiking… and the great outdoors…
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Not afraid to get dirty…
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Or go racing through the wilds…
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Has done bazillions of Beach Cleanups…
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He is always the first one in the water and the very last one out…
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Leaping into fourteen… Hope you have the best year ever!!!
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Happy Brilliant Birthday

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The Celebrity Chef’s Recipe Collection.

And that’s a wrap for birthday season 2018!!!

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