Last week was one of our highlight outings of the year… PanMacmillan South Africa’s annual showcase of all the latest and greatest reads for the 2017… and tons of new books that we are now longing to read…
Once a year there is a get together, when suitcases of books are brought along to be displayed and discussed… The meeting always has a theme and this year’s theme was none other than Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s fantastic 13/26/39/52/65/78/91st Story Treehouse series… which meant there were beautiful leaves for everyone…
And of course a fabulous treehouse cake…
All the characters were out in full force…
Fancy Dress Competition…
And the winner was…
No to mention a filled to the brim with wonderful books goody bag…
Yes in there… a Julius Zebra to race through and one of our fave characters, Mango and Bang Bang, not to mention The Treehouse Fun Book. And then: Here I Stand, I have reviewed this book before,
one of my absolute best reads ever and honestly should be essential reading for every high schooler (and their parents) everywhere. I read it in a sitting, a collection of stories from the worlds’ best writers for children… compelling, thought provoking stories about issues facing the world: abuse, trafficking, racism… a powerful book that will leave you pondering about the world as it is, long after you have finished reading it.
Let’s Meet the Publishers
Lots of new bright, bold and chunky fun, with crystal clear photographs and I can never get over the cuteness of the alpha print series. There will be the worst adorable alpha print flashcards. In Priddy learning there will be sudoku for little people, this is a good thing from the house of the sudoku obsessed. Otherwise, Hood #8’s absolute favourite ever series continues to be Playtown and there will be chunky puzzle books and construction vehicles… not to mention chunkier floor jigsaws. And darling counting books:
And this should fill all South African parents with joy… there is a new stunner: My First Book of South African Animals, and the bright and funky First 100 Words in a multitude of local languages…
So many books flashed by, so I am going to tell you just the few that got my kids jumping out of their seats… Let’s begin in capital letters… there is a new CRESSIDA COWELL series coming out. After reading eleven out of twelve How to Train your Dragon’s together we have stalled reading the last one, because we just didn’t want the series to end… so this is going to be perfect. The title isn’t even revealed, but… a Hero and Heroine, who have to do what is right, there is magic and a battle against the dark… and being your very best. That’s all we know!!! Arrgghhh… can’t wait for more news!!!
Otherwise: Chase by Linwood Barclay, for middle schoolers… about a very unusual dog; Eoin Colder has a graphic novel on the refugee crisis coming out, called Illegal. You know it is going to be good. For Teens, “It’s all in your Head” a factual and accessible guide to mental health. In Picture Books there is Oi Cat, we loved Oi Frog, so we are looking forward to that. And Squirrels who Squabbled, set in the New England countryside, a rompish lesson in sharing. There is going to be more of the delightful Rabbit and Bear… the rabbit with social issues and dubious habits, who is annoyed that tortoise is too slow and woodpecker is too fast. And just can’t wait for something new from Alex T. Smith, of Claude fame, so looking forward to the launch of Mr. Penguin… an amusing and adventurous explorer type hero, who is also a kung fu expert and his spider sidekick… this is going to be perfect bed time reading around here.
The book of the year could well be: The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, a powerful debut novel about an African American teen called Starr, who has to find the balance between the harsh neighbourhood she lives in and the private high school she attends in the burbs. There is a fatal shooting, by a police officer and Starr is the only witness…
There are heaps more pending new releases but huge excitement in the house about a new Alex Rider… yes, Anthony Horowitz has done it again. And old favourites will be keeping my kids reading: Julius Zebra meets the Egyptians, and Timmy Failure #6, A Cat Stole my Pants by Stephan Pastis. And masses of Where’s Wally in his 30th year.
And then picture books: Mrs Mole I’m Home looks fabulous, about a mole trying to find his way home, only he can’t find his spectacles, and he does find himself surfacing unannounced in all sorts of unexpected corners of the world. Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is the first in a trilogy, it will be followed by square and circle.
More old favourites.. and There will be a 91th Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Take Note… Andy Griffiths is on a World Tour and will be at the V and A Waterfront in Cape Town this Saturday (25 February 2017), at Exclusive Books from 10:30-12:30. Otherwise Chris Riddell, our absolute hero, is publishing “Travels with my Sketchbook” drawings from his time as Children’s Laureate.
For teen readers: A new Francis Hardinge called a Skinful of Shadows, an historical fantasy with a twist… beautiful writing as you would expect, and set during the English Civil War. Nemesis by Brendan Reichs, a mystery thriller about Min, who every two years is murdered on her birthday, and then she wakes up. And she is going to have to save the world as well.
And for the younger set… there will be a new Emily Gravett, called Old Hat about a rabbit who loves shopping for hats and we can’t wait for that!!! There will be a new “Just so Stories” for the younger set by Elli Woollard. and look out for the scratch and sniff called, Pirate Pete and the Smelly Feet.
And that was it… until next year!!!
Blast from the Past
We would really like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa for this fantastic event, for the invitation and of course the extra special treatment. This post is not sponsored in any way and the opinions expressed are as usual our own.
Tags: Brilliant Books
February 19th, 2017 · 4 Comments
You know you have found your rhythm for the year, yes we are late starters, when you manage to organise an unplugged day to totally unplug and dash off into the wilds for a day… rock pooling and hiking and off the beaten track. It is soul refreshing…
Otherwise, this was the week that I guest blogged around the web… Not only did we launch our new Library Project for Book Giving Day… but I blogged the story of our project, how it has grown and changed and how we put our library project together over on the Book Giving Day site. Our goal for this year is to provide these kids, in fact over a thousand kids with books for a library, I believe we can!!!
And huge news… I started a totally new exercise programme with the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, and I am blogging my journey on their site…
Lovely Links from This Week
- These little Napkin Dolls on Krokatak… aren’t these darling… we are going to have to make some of those
- Free OutDoor Mag…
- I think we need to make some origami dragons… on Time to Craft…
- Family Walks and How to Display all those treasures on Babyccino’s Kids…
- Summer Inspiration with PoppyTalk and IKEA’s 2017 Collection.
- Looking for pages of great outdoor inspiration…Getting Active Outdoors…
- And we love Around the World Food, with Children Just Like Me… And if you want to make your on children just like me page… follow this link.
This Week’s Highlights
Reading Myself: Don’t even ask why I have never read this before, but in my year of reading books that I want to read… I saw this one and it was all shiny and new in the library. Gotta say, I am loving it and could well turn it into a family reader a loud.
Family Reading A-Loud: It has been almost two years of reading this, but we are finally getting to the end of it… we have about five pages to go. It has been a fantastic journey through time… loved it all the way!!!
Listening: I read these books for review as they came out… one by one by one… they are fat, they are historical and I loved them. But, I always wanted the chance to read them all at once and not have to wait the year in-between as they were written. So I started this the other day and what I thought would take weeks to get through I have been flying through at every available opportunity!!!
Watching with the Kids:
Watched this movie with my younger kids this evening, and they loved it. Scary in the best kind of way… three children move into their old aunt’s home and discover a parallel world full of goblins and fairies and well, magic. It is quite an adventure and a wild crazy race against time… there is treasure and excitement and what more could you ask for. I wouldn’t recommend it for little children, but certainly age 7 and up enjoyed it.
Watching Myself: Not a thing, I have been way too busy to be watching anything. But Waves for Water has a movie night tonight at the Blue Bird Garage…
A Blast From the Past:
That’s us… Hope you are all have a fabulous week!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
February 18th, 2017 · 4 Comments
We haven’t been rock pooling at Dale Brook for the longest time, so when the fun folks from Creative Nature invited us to their book launch and to a morning of rock pooling we jumped at the chance.
A couple of weeks back we posted a review of these wonderfully locally created colouring books and on Sunday it was the chance for the book “Seashore” to be launched… the fabulous thing about these books is that they are filled with facts about local treasures that can all be found locally.
The Author Illustrator Team: Kate Muller and Aaniyah Omardien
There was a poetry reading from the book, because all the the facts are presented as poems. And it was possibly the liveliest poetry reading I have ever been too.
These are fabulous books look out for them.
We have been avid fans of the I Am Water Campaign since we heard about them when Sylvia Earle visited a couple of years back and so I was especially thrilled to meet founder Hanli Prinsloo, and her wonderful team of ocean loving workers.
We did not even know that they had a show case store in the heart of Kalk Bay, where you can buy all things ocean… The Ocean Deck & Shop, 55 Main Road Kalk Bay.
The Rock Pooling
In our family folk take rock pooling seriously,
they like conditions to be just right and this past weekend it helped that it was spring low tide and we could walk out far further than usual. Conditions were right and we had a number of world class scientists to teach us about the wonderful discoveries that we were finding.
An ocean garden with every kind of kelp…
And every kind of treasure…
To giant stars…
And the Hero of the day was definitely this beautiful octopus…
Photos from the Day
Thank you to Creative Nature for inviting us to your wonderful book launch. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write it and opinions expressed are all our own.
Tags: Cape Town · Outdoors · Outings
It’s the middle of February, already and I have a feeling that a lot of resolutions may well have been tossed aside by now. I have to say that I am all for change and creating better habits out of bad habits. And little changes work well, especially if they are so small as to be ridiculous not to achieve them. Just going to bed earlier one night a week is a lot easier than trying to go to bed earlier every night. Very soon that good feeling from sleeping well makes you want to add another early night to your week and so incremental-habit-changing works it’s way into your life.
The last time I decided to jump start our moving about-ness, we joined a gym it was a pretty hilarious, read disastrous event. And while it was fabulous to have a great programme for our kids to participate in while I worked out, I wasn’t loving it… there is a vast difference between going to gym when you are fit and when you are totally unfit and clueless about what to do. And when the kids programme turned into them sitting around watching movies while the coaches painted their own nails, my kids begged me to stop. I persisted, until all the elite swimmers kept taking the stairs out of the pool and some people, just saying (me), cannot get out of a pool with any sort of saving face, if the stairs are not in place. So we started a daily amble and that was life changing for all us, our daily ambles became family hikes, noting spectacular in sporting achievement, just getting up and getting out there and it was wonderful. It has been great in ways we could never have imagined, exercise was a great benefit, but I discovered my essential need to be outdoors.
Meanwhile, I realised that in the scheme of things I wasn’t get the time I needed, just relaxing. It appears that there is always something else for a mother to do… and everyone talks about “eating the frog” and getting those hard tasks out of the way at the start of the day. I decided that it was time to stop waiting for time to come to me and to actively seek it out. So last year I started reading for real again, after years of reading as a default, because I had to get a book review out. I decided to start my day by reading a chapter of any book I wanted to… kids books, classics, rereads, cookbooks… anything. It was my best reading year ever and I learnt to enjoy reading again… one chapter a day very quickly became large chunks of book. Reading first thing in the morning, before glancing at my phone or doing any chores, really put work into perspective. And what can I say, small steps are life changing!!!
This year I realised that I could up my game a little more and do my mornings a little more consciously. You see I function very well on rewards (love me a great reward), so previously I would reward myself with a coffee for getting up, then I would reward myself for surviving breakfast, and another reward/coffee for getting half way through school. I realised that this wasn’t fine coffee, it was just ordinary coffee, I wasn’t even enjoying it that much… and there was way too much of it. Crazy, I know. So I dropped the coffee habit. Can I hear a gasp!!! I will only drink coffee if I am out on a coffee date. And I have replaced my morning coffee with with a glass of lemon water in the great outdoors… and then read a chapter of my book before beginning the day. Honestly it feels like a little holiday every day.
Another thing, this year we have a couple of hikes planned. They are harder than the hikes we have been doing and I would like to introduce overnight hikes to our gang. I don’t want to go in cold, but our daily ambles are not going to hack it any more… so we started the Park Run… realistically its the Park Walk for us. And thats ok, because it gets us up on a Saturday and everyone is moving.
I quickly realised that if I did a Park Run three times a week I would be fitter than I have been in years. But oh I can’t want to do it on my own, not to mention I have a lingering foot injury that is driving me mad. I needed a little bit of an intervention. And then I got an email from a friend… Would I like to join the Sport Science Institute’s Healthy Wight Programme in exchange for some honest blogging? And actually that is a dream come true for me. I do want to be fitter and healthy, and their program is all about holistic health, and not focused as the name would suggest, on weight at all.
Just saying, I start this week… I will be up at 5:30 to head to the gym for the first time since before I had kids (19 years ago -gasp). I have started the longest audio book series I could think of, to accompany me on the journey to and fro. I will be doing things that I know in my head that I thought I would never ever do again. Of course the biggest and most overriding challenge at this point is what will I wear? I have a pair of leggings, I have hiking socks… but I don’t have (ahem) “suitable for gym” foundation wear. And shoes, oh my goodness I never thought of that when I signed up… I have hiking boots and my fave croc loafers. I am going to have to invest in some sport shoes and I have no idea what I am looking for… it has been centuries since I did that, not to mention the terrifying price of all things athletic. It is going to be an interesting ride, not to mention a steep learning curve. You can follow my journey at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa.
I would like to thank SSISA for the free training/mentoring I am getting in exchange for an honest blog post. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Tags: Home Truths
It is World Book Giving Day today, the day when everyone everywhere is encouraged to give books… to their friends, to strangers… to anyone really. Just the idea of World Book Giving Day is huge. It certainly is one of the biggest days of the year in the life of our blog and our blog community. The great thing about blogging is that you do not blog alone and we have cloud of friends all over the world that have helped us to build libraries over the years. It appears to be totally impossible, who could collect a library of books… on our own it would be impossible, but together as a community and book by book libraries have been gathered together.
Libraries Our Readers Have Created in the Past
Last year we managed to create a library for a school with no books and this year… we have a school at the outer edge of Cape Town with well over a thousand students in it. Wouldn’t it be great if we could pack their library full of books… so that there could be at least one book for every student. Our own children are surrounded by books and their lives are so much richer for it. They have shelves full of books for fun, books for school and when they run out of books at home then they can walk less than a kilometre to the nearest community library and take out more books for free. Reading is a way of life, our kids are growing up in a culture of books.
Millions of South African children do not have access to books, and while we cannot address every single school… we can focus on one school and creating a culture of literature there for them. None on of these children have access to books like ours do, they do not have a community library near at hand and they do not have a functioning school library either. They also live in an environment where books are just not a way of life and they won’t have books lying around at home just waiting to be read and there certainly won’t be bed-time stories. I think we could possibly change this.
The school was established in January 1979, and is situated in the middle of a previously disadvantaged community. There are a close to 1250 students ranging from grade R to grade 7, and thirty five teachers to teach them. In an area plagued with unemployment most parents cannot pay school fees for their children. There are bigger priorities in a community rife with unemployment and all the social problems associated with that, than books. From all the world we cannot change their circumstances but we can provide books.
With books we can open up a whole new world for these children, show them a world that they can climb into, create places they want to visit, provide dreams that they can pursue… These are exactly the children that need a good book to escape into. I firmly believe that wherever you are, and whatever situation you are in, you can always escape into a book… but that is only if you have an opportunity to connect with a book. The project that we choose will have children that need to be able to escape the world around them, more than most of us. They are in a school environment, where they should have access to books. But because of things way beyond their control they do not have access to living books. With our community, we could create piles of books for each of these children… let’s aim high and figure out a way to do this together.
So How Can You Help?
Step 1: Select a Book or Books
- You can search through your books for gently used books that your children have outgrown or no longer love. Remember these books are gifts, we will visit the school when they unpack them. Loved books are great, over loved books… not so much, and old tattered textbooks from your college days that have been used as door stops… really not so much.
- You can buy a book or two with your children and package them up.
- You can shop at Amazon and ship directly.
- And you can shop on-line, locally at Loot, and ship directly as well.
While all the students do learn English, many of the learners have Afrikaans or Xhosa as their first language. English books are very welcome, so are books in Afrikaans and Xhosa. Any books will be great, story books, picture books, craft books, cook books, reference books… really any books. There is a large community being served here. If you are shopping overseas and would like to buy local language books then click on the South African vendor to find books and they will deliver locally for you.
Leave a comment and tell us that you intend to help or contact us.
I will reply to you all as soon as I can with the shipping details, with the address to send the books you have chosen. There is a human person behind each and every email (that would be me) and they take time… please be patient the address will get to you.
Step 3: Let us Know All About the Books You Chose
We would love if you could photograph the books you are sending, if you shop on-line then just send us a list of the books that you ordered. If you have a blog and write about it then let us know and we will have a Progress Post each week. I will pop the photo’s you send into the blog post and if you do have a blog there will be a chance for you to link up as well…
We are so excited about this project and we really hope that our readers seize the day and join us… it doesn’t have to be huge… if even one percent of our readers pop one book into an envelope and post it off… we will have a library!!! So here’s to hoping that we hear from you all really soon… leave a comment saying you would like to join us, contact us… Please share this post… whatever you need to do… we would so love to hear from you!!!
SuperNova Magazine, the Mag for Curious Kids is South Africa’s premier magazine for kids, packed with actual factual facts for kids, has signed up to join us with our Library building project and offered to help us every step of the way… and I am going to blog all about that next week.
Disclosure: The Amazon and Loot links are affiliate links and our blog will earn a very small percentage of the book sales made there, we pledge to put any of our earnings from books for the school directly back into buying more books for them… this is their project and we don’t in any way want to gain financially from it.
Tags: Brilliant Books · Caring and Sharing · Home Truths
February 13th, 2017 · 5 Comments
I cannot believe six weeks of the year has gone by already, but here we are the sixth post in our series. This is a very practical series, geared to helping us get things around here more organised and efficient… When it comes to kitchen organising I always think things are going smoothly until I take a slightly deeper look. We started in a very low key kind of a way this past week… just slowly but surely organising sections of the kitchen. This post is really in case you feel inspired to join us on our journey…
Se7en Tips for a Massive Kitchen Declutter
I like to do a massive kitchen scrub once in a while. Realistically we clean our kitchen after each meal… sweep the floor and wipe the counters. Once or twice a week we mop the floor and then once a week I take on a deeper cleaning task. And our deeper cleaning tasks are clean out the fridge, take everything off the counters and clean, clean and tidy all the spices, and clean out the veggie drawers. This month I am planning to do a little more than usual and organise our kitchen thoroughly. It has been a while, it is not the first time, and it is not the last time… and it certainly is high time. Most things I tweak a little here and there as we go along, but everyone now and then things need a bit of a kick start.
- Tiny Steps Do Add Up: Cleaning out your kitchen is not for the faint hearted. It requires a certain amount of chaos before things can get better, and at the same time you still have to produce meals around the clock. I know how it works, you pull out a drawer and can’t find what you are looking for and in a moment of insanity you empty it out to get organised, and then discover a few things that belong in the closet, but when you get to the closet something is in the wrong place, so you unpack the closet to organise it… before you can even blink you have unpacked the entire kitchen and now everyone wants supper. The trick is to perform really small steps, and if there is anything you can delegate… then delegate away.
- Create an Interim Space: I know, you are meant to put things back where they belong when you are tidying. If you are tidying your kitchen counters and then spend more time wandering around the house putting things away, then you are wasting time. Have a place where you put all the things that belong elsewhere and keep that for one of your final tasks later. Otherwise create a donate box… and I make sure that that box has a lid on it, because as soon as my family knows something is about to be donated they immediately find an absolutely vital use for that item.
- Start Where You Will Notice the Most Difference: It is encouraging to see progress fast, so while the whole kitchen is too much all at once, pick something where you will notice the biggest difference. I always start with the counter tops. When your counters are clean then everything else looks clean. Pop everything off the counters and only put things back when they are completely clean and only if you want them there. I firmly believe that appliances don’t get used if they are not available to use. If I had to unpack the mixer every time I needed to use it then I would “need” it a lot less. That being said, we only keep appliances on our counter that we use all the time. I notice that we have one or two appliances out on our kitchen counters that we just aren’t using at the moment… it is probably time for them to move along.
- Declutter, Declutter, Declutter: Once I have tackled the counters I go through all the drawers and all the cupboards… and I toss anything we haven’t used in the last while. That alone forces me to use the things I love instead of keeping them for “special.” Don’t keep things you don’t love and don’t neglect the things you do. Otherwise if you have gifts that you have never used, you hate to love them and you love to hate them. Move them along, really. That relative of your auntie’s cousin doesn’t need to know if you kept her casserole dish, or her potato masher. If you have duplicates, then toss them out right now. If you just can’t want to donate some of your stuff then pop all the questionable things into a box and give the whole box to a friend. Let her get rid of it for you. (and that works for any decluttering). You definitely should not have ancient wedding gifts, still in its packaging… just saying… it is time to reclaim all that all that closet space that is being taken up with stuff you don’t use and don’t really want.
- Rearrange, but Just a Little: I cannot rearrange our entire kitchen without my family getting very upset about not being able to find anything, but if you find yourself always moving ten things to get to one thing, or always crawling to the back of a closet for something you use everyday then change things up a little. Seasons change and so do priorities… things you might need close at hand when your kids are tiny might be quite different to what you need close at hand by the time they are ready for school. Lose the stuff you don’t use anymore, anything your kids don’t need anymore can move along. There are some things that we only use once or twice a year, put those things in the harder to reach spots. Our more obscure things go in a box of obscure once a year things, then when I am looking for an obscure once a year item, I know where to look.
- Let’s Talk About Storage: If you have closets full of storage containers that you can’t access easily that you almost never use then firstly you have too many containers and secondly make them more accessible so that you can use them. to organise your containers begin by taking everything out and matching lids to containers… anything without a match get rid of immediately. In a world that should be tending to less and less plastic even buying plastic containers that are guaranteed to last a life time is pretty much an anathema. We store all our left overs in glass canning jars, in fact we use those for sending lunch to the office as well. Glass for the win, it is easy to clean and looks good so you will choose to use it again and again.
- Enlist Help: When it comes to cleaning out and organising your kitchen this is one place that you really can get your kids to help you. This is one project that I really battle to get started with… I can quite easily make a list of things that need doing and then I stagger to a stop in overwhelm. But kids love this sort of project and the best way to get started is always to take the first step. As soon as I finish one closet I invite a child to empty the next one… they get to clear everything out and wipe the closet down, then wipe all the contents clean and put them back. It often feels like the last thing you need is help from the kids… but kids are great at emptying out closets… they are great at scrubbing any number of things and they enjoy it. And I like to pack things back… and I always put things that I use together back in the same place.
- Lastly Create Some Appeal: We tend to get so caught up in cleaning out our kitchen and making sure that the next meal is on time that we often forget the things that really can improve your kitchen’s curb appeal and our mood in the kitchen. And for all the hard work that went into cleaning out all the closets. Check through your tea towels and loss the old tattered and torn ones. Take a good look at the fridge door, toss out all ancient artworks… and refresh with one or two more. Print some new photographs and out with the old. Trust me look at your fridge, now look again… there is always something to tidy up there and it can really make a massive difference to your kitchen appeal and how you feel about spending time in there.
We have slightly begun our massive kitchen clean out, and slowly but surely we are getting there. Hopefully next week we will have some fantastic photographs of tasks that have been tackled and lessons learnt along the way.
Previous Posts in our 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done Series
Tags: Organizing Se7en
February 12th, 2017 · 2 Comments
We had friends out from overseas recently and they were looking for a fabulous lazy breakfast as close to the Great outdoors as possible, without having to do any work themselves… we immediately thought of Moyo at Kirstenbosch and their Sunday morning Breakfast Buffet.
Because that is a breakfast that fills all the criteria…
Located in the heart of the most beautiful gardens…
You can sit at your table and watch the birds stopping by…
And reach out and touch the garden…
A warm welcome…
And the food just superb…
Yogurt never looks this good at home…
Everything you could possibly think of…
A yogurt bar, cereals, every possible kind of egg, sausages, bacon, even steaks… toast and melt in your mouth pastries. Vegetarian versions of everything and plenty of variety for folk who are on special diets as well. And happy smiling service, ready to help you with anything you might need.
Honestly, it was about as close as you can get to heaven.
The Breakfast Buffet is from 9 to 11 on a Sunday morning. We were there as the doors opened at 9, and we were quite alone for the first 45 minutes. This is sleepy Cape Town after all, so if you are looking for a peaceful banquet, then get their early and enjoy it. Though only the father person and I stopped by it is definitely a family friendly spot… kids are welcome and when they have finished eating there is a lovely play space right out the front for them to go and stretch your legs.
This is not a sponsored post, just one of those insider tips for visitors to Cape Town, that you can only get from a local. Opinions expressed are of course entirely our own.
Tags: Cape Town · Outings · Restaurants