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

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A Quick Tour of the New I & J Ocean Exhibit at the Two Oceans Aquarium…

June 16th, 2016 · 2 Comments

We have been waiting and waiting with eager anticipation for the new I&J Ocean Exhibit at the aquarium to open… and open it is. If you haven’t been to the aquarium for years then I can say… these school holidays would be a really good time to head down there. We popped in yesterday evening before the grand opening this morning to take a look around…


The I&J Ocean Exhibit


This huge tank, 6m deep and 1.6 million litres full is ready for viewing. A huge window 9m by 4m letting us take a look at the underwater that world most of us have never even dreamt of exploring.


It has come a very long way from the first day of construction and the small model that was used to explain the events to come, two and a half years ago.


The Jelly Gallery


To the left of the giant tank is the new jelly display… that you enter through a curtain of tentacles…


Into a luminous mirrored hall…


Filled with incredible creatures…


You will be there a while, they are quite hypnotic…


The Tunnel


To the right of the huge tank is the tunnel, a 10 m walk way under the tank…


Turtles swim right above you…


Giant fish right alongside you…


You really can become part of the ocean in here…


While we there there they released some more fish into the tank… it is quite a procedure, while they waited for all these huge fish, that were in a frame within the tank to wake up…


And then they released and they swam into their new surroundings… and their new home.


To save our oceans we need to understand them and a lot of new learning and understanding is going to happen in front of this huge tank… as many hours are spent watching life under the ocean through this window into the watery world…

Previous Two Oceans Aquarium Posts

→ 2 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en Got to Cook With HP and Learn in the Stir Crazy Cooking School…

June 15th, 2016 · 8 Comments

A couple of weeks back I was invited out for lunch by HP South Africa I was a little surprised, it wasn’t the usual type of media invitation that I receive. I am not the most (read not at all) tech savvy gal in the world, and they soon found that out. But I am a mom… and I don’t know a mom on earth who wouldn’t like to play around with a printer and print a pile of photographs of her kids… I can’t even begin to think when last I actually did print photographs. Instagram is my favourite place, photographs speak to me, and yet I never get to print photographs. Every year I say, “This is the year…” And it turns out, this was the invitation I needed. I downloaded the HP All in One Printer App onto my phone and literally printed away. It was as easy as that.


I digress… HP South Africa invited me, and a couple of much more tech savvy guys and gals, out to lunch, and the great thing about it was that we had to cook the lunch ourselves. Yes, I was treated to a day out at the Stir Crazy Cooking School in Hout Bay. I have to be honest when I heard it was a day out at a cooking school I didn’t hesitate to reply and say, count me in. I promised myself that this was the year I would take the odd day off and do things just for me… and it is June folks and I have yet to get around to it, I needed this day off. Anyway, I can totally guarantee you that most of my Monday mornings do not begin looking like this: Stunning view, table set and an apron ready and good to go…


Let’s meet our chef, Brett Nussey…


His inspirational kitchen…


And most of my very serious (!!!) team…


Cooking With HP South Africa

Fresh Spring Rolls

Had I known how easy it was to make spring rolls, I would have done these years ago. I had to go to a technology event to discover that you can just buy rice paper wrappers at the local supermarket… and my kids, all of them… will eat anything wrapped up and called a spring roll. Anything. From this day forward we have entered into a new level of vegetable eating, even for the one person that thinks chocolate, it grows on trees, is the only vegetable. Here you go… Spring rolls in a flash:


Chop and sliver…




Fresh mint and coriander leaves for taste and prettiness…


Then layer on the treats…


This was a real recipe with real ingredients and yet I find my kids will eat anything chopped up and wrapped up!!!


Another layer…


Sweet chilli sauce… and my kids love anything with chilli, so we are winning here…


And fold and roll…




Bourekakia – Lamb in Phyllo Pastry

These look like our local samosas and so my kids think they are… and are thrilled to get these for supper, with absolutely anything wrapped up inside them. They are quick and easy and fun to make…







Eggplant Involtini

This was stunning, and from the house where eggplants grown and there is only so much moussaka that one family can eat, it is wonderful to have a recipe for a delicious dish made with eggplants.




Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breast with Spinach and Feta

And another dish, that I know the father person loves, but I have never tried before, because I thought it would be too tricky… turns out it is not and that our entire family loves it… except for the non-chicken eater of course… but for him there is the vegan eggplant dish.





Apple Tarte Tatin and White Chocolate Creme Brûlée

Well we didn’t make the desert, but isn’t it beautiful… Creme Brûlée is my hubs absolute favourite dish… so winning there.


And that was it… A fantastic meal that I really can’t believe I am able to make… all plated up and absolutely delicious.


A complete break from my everyday life and a beautiful gift to go… Le Creuset, need I say more… and a pile of photographs printed… hot off the press so to speak. I will have two grannies thrilled to know that I have actual real live photographs. All in all it was a complete win of a day for me… learnt new things, tried new flavours… loved it!!!


Thank you so much to HP South Africa for a fantastic day out, and to Stir Crazy Cooking School, my family are thrilled that I spent the day with you. This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ 8 CommentsTags: Cook Book Reviews · Monday Munchies · Reviews

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #320

June 14th, 2016 · No Comments

It’s cold and the rain is pouring down outside… luckily the rain appears to be a night time thing and so our days remain sunny, even if the sun is somewhat tepid!!!



Lovely Links from This Week

  1. It’s not just me that loves Ideas Magazine… Poppytalk does too!!!
  2. Something to watch: Have you met Children’s Authors Live? Settle down and watch with your kids… thank me later!!!
  3. How to travel and get back to Nature on Into the Wild.
  4. Explore the Cape Town Big 7, this youth month…
  5. 16 wee gems for the Outlander Tragic…
  6. The Summer Adventure Guide and everything to love is up on Imagine Childhood…
  7. You really really need to take a peak at The Read the World Summer Book Club, on Simple Homeschool. It is going to be fab!!!
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

    A Blast From the Past:


A Galactically Good Nature Poster GiveAway Winner

se7en-31-May-16-image028.jpg@01D190D4.3E1E88B0-13.jpg se7en-31-May-16-image027.jpg@01D190D4.3E1E88B0-14.jpg se7en-31-May-16-image026.jpg@01D190D4.3E1E88B0-15.jpg se7en-31-May-16-image025.jpg@01D190D4.3E1E88B0-16.jpg
Images of posters courtesy of #StruikNature

All the entries…


Hidden away…

Carefully chosen…

Sanna: Jun 1, 2016 at 3:41 pm I always enjoyed spotting eagles. Would love to take my daughter to Kruger to see lots of these in the wild.

Congratulations Sanna… lookout for an email from us…

We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with copies of the posters to review and giveaway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed are as usual, entirely our own.

That’s us… Hope you all have a fabulous week!!!

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood #2…

June 12th, 2016 · 10 Comments

And this weekend was the beginning of birthday season over here, with Hood #2 turning se7enteen…


To the lover of chocolate…


Who is always perfectly chilled…

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A fabulous big brother…

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With the incredible ability to sleep anywhere…


Always ready to play…

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A champion encourager…

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And keen to take part…

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Our reader of millions of books…

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And cleaner of beaches…

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Hope se7enteen is an awesome year for you!!!

Happy Brilliant Birthday


To the guy who loves flying…


Has great taste in music…


Champion of champions…


Our family techie…


Our inventor of so many things…


Our party pirate…


Who will try anything…


I cannot fathom how you grew up so fast…


Previous Birthday Posts

Hood #2 is 16…

Hood #2 is 15…

Hood #2 is 14…

Hood #2 is 13…

Hood #2 is 12…

Hood #2 is 11…

Hood #2 is 10… An interview with an inventor.

→ 10 CommentsTags: Home Truths

World Ocean’s Day and Smart Living at the Two Oceans Aquarium…

June 10th, 2016 · 5 Comments

In our home we take things like Earth Day last week and World Ocean’s Day this week, very seriously and so to join in the event… we had a bit of a think about the things that we do.


In the scheme of environmental crisis where every problem appears to be far bigger than us, the kid in me wants to leave it to “the grown-ups.” Turns out we are the grown-ups, and we have to start doing environmental things ourselves… nobody else is going to fix it. The time has come, the Walrus said… when every little bit really does count. The most important thing we can do is learn more… yes we can make sure that we don’t use chemicals in our homes and we can do beach clean ups… but if we don’t know the “why” behind it, it is very hard to follow through. We recycled, we did beach clean ups, but until we actually grasped exactly where our garbage goes we weren’t vigilant about it. As soon as we knew where our garbage was going it became so much easier to create less garbage… first we reduced our garbage by half… composting and recycling everything… then half again. It can be done. The key is not so much doing something because it is the right thing to do, that’s a start. The key is doing something because the opposite is too horrible to contemplate.

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Our local aquarium, The Two Oceans Aquarium and yes we are huge fans, has always been one step ahead of the rest in teaching folk about what must be done to protect the ocean, let’s just begin with the overwhelming beauty…





There is always something new, interesting and just incredible to look at…


Their educational outreach is unprecedented…


The Smart Living Exhibit


We recently visited the Smart Living Exhibit a hands on, touch, feel and engaging learning experience. Games to play, screens to explore, ideas to think about, take home tips and real live learning, without feeling like you are learning at all. This exhibit is exactly like stepping into one of those cool books packed with infographics… only this isn’t a book, it is real life. There are four components to the Smart Living Learning experience:

  • Biodiversity: That’s what we need to protect… make the right choices, like composting your compostable garbage… had I known how easy it was I would have started years ago.
  • Water: Save it, save it, save it… our present water shortage is critical, make sure that you aren’t responsible for wasting a drop of it.
  • Energy: use it carefully, sparingly, be wise… little changes can make a vast difference here and the fact that it costs so much should be enough to get us all lessening our energy usage.
  • Waste: Better shopping practices means less packaging and less garbage, we really have to re-think our garbage practices on a global scale… everything we are tossing out, wherever you live… really does end up in the sea.







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If you are looking for a way to keep up to speed with your kids and their green living ideas, then head over to the aquarium to find out the what, where and why behind greener living…





Previous Two Oceans Aquarium Posts

This is not a sponsored post, we simply write about the Two Oceans Aquarium because we love it there.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Green Living · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en + 1 Reasons to Visit Kirstenbosch Right Now…

June 7th, 2016 · 9 Comments

Welcome to Kirstenbosch, our National Botanical Gardens is a place you can visit time and time again… because there is just so much to see there. Good news for Cape Town families is that Kirstenbosch is absolutely free for school children during the winter school holidays…


There is a lot to see and do here, you can be busy for hours… there is a tea room, but we always take a snack… because is there anything better than a picnic.


Se7en + 1 Reasons to Visit Kirstenbosch Right Now

  1. Art Installation: William Sweetlove’s Water Wars:
  2. Last weekend we were invited to visit Kirstenbosch, to take a look at the Belgian Artist, William Sweetlove’s Water Wars Exhibition…


    The sculptures are made from.amongst other things, plastic reclaimed from landfills. The artist is making a statement about our environmental impact… and he hopes to inspire critical thinking…


    The art at first looks like bright funky toys… but look again, the colony of penguins in the vlei garden are all carrying water bottles on their backs… indicating that the water they are in is no longer fit for consumption.


    Interesting and thought provoking work.



    There is a third sculpture in the Old Dam, that we totally missed after much exploring, so it is good to be a little prepared beforehand. Here’s a great link, including a video, to everything you need to know. We will definitely be going back in the holidays to find the third sculpture.

  3. The Gardens:
  4. There is a reason Kirstenbosch Gardens is rated by National Geographic as one of the top ten picnic spots in the world… the gardens are incredible, full of carefully created corners to explore and wide open lawns to spread your picnic blankets.


    The rolling lawns… with shady spots…


    The beautiful sculpture…


    And of course the interesting places to explore…


  5. The Plants and Animals:
  6. These are our National Botanical Gardens, and one would expect to find a whole lot of plants… but here you will discover a magical world of plants and animals that you could never have imagined. There are plenty of sign posts with interesting facts, it is quite impossible to go there and not learn something new…


    Intriguing plants to learn about are everywhere…


    This is where you discover all the weird and wonderful things of this world…


    There is a whole miniature world ready to be examined in the head of any protea…


    Not to mention, well camouflaged animals on the ground.


  7. The Boomslang above the Treetops:
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    We absolutely love taking a walk along the elevated walk way, through the tree tops…


    It is even better if you can take a rest and stop for a moment… and notice all the birds dashing by.


  9. The Dinosaurs amongst the Cycads:
  10. This is an incredible display of life size dinosaurs that are not at all out of place in this corner of the garden. One can quite easily imagine these giant beasts roaming through the ancient plants.



  11. Medicinal Plants:
  12. There is a whole area of the garden devoted to beautifully smelling plants that are used for medicinal purposes…


    Honestly, I think we could devote an entire day to learning amazing things in just this little spot…


  13. The Braille Trail:
  14. This is as close as you get to an actual hike whilst in the gardens, of course you can step out onto the mountain at any time… but the Braille Trail is something quite magical.


    It is a short easy walk for little legs and yet within meters of the start you find yourself lost in a quite jungle.


    There is a rope path to guide your way…


    And lots of information boards to look at along the way… Well look at and feel… because all the information boards are write-in braille.


    And the Se7en + 1th Thing…

  15. The Conservatory:
  16. It is the middle of winter over here, but never fear should the day you choose to head for the gardens, and it decides to rain… head for the conservatory, we have spent many a rainy day there with sketchbooks, drawing and waiting for the passing rain, to move on.


    The Kirstenbosch Market

    Last weekend I was invited to pay a visit to the Kirstenbosch Market. As Autumn leaves swirled overhead, it was the last market of the season before the market closes for the winter and re-emerges again in the Spring. I can that that is well and truly something to look forward to. It is a great family outing with plenty for folk of all ages and stages to enjoy…


    You can’t miss the market, there is an unmissable great spray at the entrance…


    First things first put something delicious in your tummy… there are plenty of choices to choose from…


    Then wander around and take in all the sites… the market is packed with innovative stall holders full of creative goodies to look at…


    Toys and baskets…




    And bottles…


    And baskets…


    Teeny tiny magical worlds…


    And baskets…


    Even puppies to play with…


    And the darling hats…


    Sweet treats…


    What can I say, fudge…


    Lots of delicious treats to choose, to take on a picnic into the gardens….


    And a place to stop for a cup of tea…


    And baskets… Oh the baskets!!!


    I may have had to take one of these home with me… I have no idea what to put in it… but I couldn’t leave the market without a basket!!!

    Previous Kirstenbosch Posts

    1. Se7en+1 Set Out As Citizen Scientists in the Fynbos…
    2. Se7en + 1 Meet the Dinosaurs Amongst the Cycads at Kirstenbosch…
    3. Se7en + 1 Discover the Boomslang at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens…
    4. Adventure Trails in Kirstenbosch.
    5. Kirstenbosch’s Winter Wonder Program.
    6. Kirstenbosch and the Braille Trail…
    7. Kirstenbosch for kids…

    Huge thank you to Hippo Communications for a fantastic day out, we loved it. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write it, but we were given entrance tickets and a collection of delicious picnic treats from the market.

→ 9 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Hiking · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #319

June 6th, 2016 · 6 Comments

I am getting to the point where I can no longer call this season Autumn, it is cold and while our winter is defined as the rainy season… there has been no rain worth mentioning for a very long time. But the nip in the air is real and the chilly edge if you aren’t n a patch of sunshine is hard to ignore. No amount of wearing t-shirts and ignoring the cold is making this summer and most of us are finally relenting and wearing sweaters on a daily basis…


It’s World Ocean’s Day This Week

Time to make a Penguin Promise with The Two Oceans Aquarium…

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Image thanks to The Two Oceans Aquarium.


Lovely Links from This Week

  1. It’s cold and wintry and the pull to stay indoors is strong… but everything feels better after being in the outdoors, if you need some inspiration then head for 30 Days Wild…
  2. Can I call back summer… with these ice pops on Imagine Childhood.
  3. I love this idea, Best books to Read with a Magnifying Glass on Adventures with Kids. Looking forward to the following posts in the series as well!!!
  4. I am all for positive: Why I leave good reviews wherever I can, on The Art of Simple.
  5. Lots of blogging stuff to learn in this post from The Problogger: The 4 Rs That Show a Brand Your Blog is Influential.
  6. We are so close to finishing our school year and I am so close to doing a grand reorganise around here… 10 Organizing tricks I learnt from the Home Edit.
  7. Oh Alisa Burke… another beautiful project, I can’t look at this and not want to paint our deck!!!
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. These posts are for the moms out there that belong to the special group of woman, “Those who have lost a baby and nobody ever talks about it.” I blogged about it at the time, because I believe moms need to know they are not alone… and I am posting these links today, because our little person would have been two today.

A Blast From the Past:


A Galactically Good Nature Poster GiveAway

If you haven’t entered our fab GiveAway yet… We would love you to pop over and leave a comment.

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Images of posters courtesy of #StruikNature

That’s us… Hope you all have a fabulous week!!!

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→ 6 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun