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

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Learning About Western Leopard Toads in the Silvermine Valley…

August 24th, 2016 · No Comments

We recently reviewed The Young Explorers Frog App… I am so glad we did, because when the opportunity arose for some of us to go away for the weekend and learn about local frogs and toads we were good and ready to learn a lot more… We didn’t have to go very far to find out more about our local amphibians, it turns out we live in the perfect neighbourhood for them.


Silvermine River Valley


I have to say we drive past this corner of Cape Town so often, and I have always said – wouldn’t it be lovely to stay there… so a bit of a dream come true to stay in this old homestead built over a hundred years ago.


We are very familiar with this neighbourhood, it is somewhere we have done a lot of hiking and exploring, there is so much to see around here.


Camp Life


Of course the weekend we were there… was the weekend of one of Cape Town’s wild and crazy winter storms, which means that whenever the sun shone we all dashed outdoors. One thing about Cape Town is though the storms can be really wild, there is always a a break and the sun comes out to tease us, before the storm continues. Some folk were so excited to be away for the weekend, they didn’t even wait for the little windows in the clouds when the sun to came out.


Gotta say it has been a while since I stood in a long queue for meals…


And even longer since I slept in a dorm… fun times!!!


The Frogs


I was with a group of kids, who were there to learn about frogs and it turned out to be perfect weather for frogs… lots of frogs. And what a variety of frogs …


Night Hikes


And probably the wildest stormy Saturday night we have had all year we headed out on a night hike to meet the endangered Western Leopard Toad… the rain absolutely poured down and the wind howled around us, and I was very glad that my smaller kids were home safe and sound and in bed… because it really was a wild storm. But what an adventure… and then the rain stopped and there we were in the silence on the dunes with the moonlight shining down on us… all pretty magical. Memories are made of this.


The Western Leopard Toad


The purpose of the night hike was to find and rescue the Western Leopard Toads that cross busy roads and learn more about the work the Western Leopard Toad Volunteers do. All I can say is volunteering is not for the fainthearted, and these folks have quite a job on their hands, especially since toads enjoy wet and wintry weather. For a very small time window each year these toads cross major roads in our area, as they migrate to and fro from their typical habitat to their breeding grounds and then back again. The volunteers are there to protect the toads, get them across the roads safely and keep a count of the number and size of the toads they spot. This is real live citizen science in action.


These toads are endangered and desperately need help to cross the busy roads that connect the urban areas of Cape Town… you have salute the folk that head out each night to protect these little guys. You can find out more about the Western Leapoard Toad Volunteers here.


The Dunes


The morning after the mighty storm we were able to catch an hour or two for a walk on the sand dunes… Honestly it is hard to believe that you are in the middle of a city when you are here…



Previous Silvermine Hikes

→ No CommentsTags: Outings

Se7en Journeys to Australia, Oceania and the Polar Regions With the Read the World Book Club…

August 22nd, 2016 · 5 Comments

This is the final week of our Read the World Book Club Series. This week we are journeying to Australia and the Arctic and the Antarctic… along with The Simple Homeschool Folk and #Giveyourchildtheworld.


Welcome to Australia, Oceania and the Polar Regions


A while ago we wrote a series on Traveling to Australia… Here is our Great Australian Adventure…


It wouldn’t be Australia without Pavlova…


And sometimes you just have to make Laminations…


It’s always a good time to create a didgeridoo…


And a platypus party…


Traveling in Antarctica


Se7en Travel Tips for Visiting the Antarctic…


Travels in the Southern Ocean…


A Visit to Marion Island in the Southern Ocean…


Life on a Research Vessel…

Our Favourite Books from Australia, Oceania and the Polar Regions

Actual Factual Books

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill: This book is on the top of our wishlist, it has had rave reviews and I am dying to spot it. The story is illustrated with pencil crayon drawings and tells of Shackleton’s journey, I have a feeling that this is a book that will inspire adventure and wonder…

D is for Down Under by Devin Scillian: This is an Australian alphabet book… celebrating all things Australian in rhythm rhyme… a long poetical accolade. Lots of facts and great illustrations.

Not For Parents Australia: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know by Lonely Planet: What can I say, Lonely Planet books for kids are such fun… Pages and pages of engaging illustrations and fascinating factoids. I am sure there are many parents that really enjoy these just as much as their kids do!!!

This is Australia by Miroslav Sasek: Let’s be honest, you just can’t travel the world without Sasek books. Beautiful illustrations and heaps of stuff to learn all in a presentable story.

Se7en + 1 Picture Books

Summertime by Franz Berliner and illustrated by Ingrid Vang Nyman: This is one of my favourite childhood books the I have hung onto for years… it is the story of Nuka and Naja, they are eskimo children that live in a distant land cross the blue sea in the Land of the People. The children wonder if people around the world are like them or if they are completely different. The magic of this story is that it tells you of the life of the eskimo children in rich detail… you can see inside their igloo, you can see the toys they play with… they go on a journey the piece of ice they are on breaks off and they are adrift on the ocean, surrounded by all the wondrous animals of the Arctic circle. They survive and eat fish and birds eggs… one day some men in kayaks spot them and rescue them and take them home to their family. Just a beautiful story that I felt I could climb into as a child.

Diary of Wombat by Jackie French: If you haven’t discovered Jackie French and her delightful wombats then you are seriously missing out… Funny, funny, funny… even the youngest child will be amused by the antics of the mischief between these pages. The wombat that desperately wants just a little more love and attention, with the very special ability to dig holes…

Edward the Emu and Edwina the Emu by Sheena Knowls: More fun and hilarity from Australia… who knew Emus could be so funny. Stories written in rhythm and rhyme… Edward decides that his life as an Emu is terribly dull and so tries to be several different animals, all to no avail… he eventually decides that being an Emu is actually his favourite. Meanwhile Edwina lays ten eggs and leaves Ed to sit on them while she goes off on an job hunt. She is truly optimistic to start with, but slowly but surely discovers that perhaps she should be home and helping with raising their family. These books are pure fun.

Where’s Stripey by Wendy Binks: Another Emu story, Crikey is left to look after thirty eggs and then thirty chicks, while his exhausted wife heads off for a rest. Crikey does his best, but he loses one… and he heads off and asks a number of Australian animals where his chick is. It ends well… and there is a double page spread with a few amazing facts about Emus.

The Platypus Series by Chris Riddell: Pure picture book fun for little people, by one of our absolute favourites, Chris Riddell. These books are stories about a platypus and his sweet Australian animal friends and the antics they get up to.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox: You cannot talk about Australian stories without mentioning the fantastic Mem Fox. This is a story for young foodies, when Grandma Poss makes Hush invisible, she can’t remember how to reverse the process so they travel Australia trying all sorts of flavours and delights, trying to find the one taste sensation that will make the difference. Lots of tasty fun.

Are we there yet? by Alison Lester: This is the story of Grace and her family as they do a road trip around Australia. This is a great story to use to learn about Australia as you take the trip with the family…

Chapter Books

Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo: This is a Michael Morpugo, so beautiful and you are sure to cry. After WWII a number of orphans were shipped, from Britain to Australia… to start a new life. They left everything behind and they had no chance of maintaining any ties with the past. This is the story of Arthur Hobhouse, one of the orphans, and his survival through unspeakable hardships. Miraculously he does survive, and grows up to be a master ship builder. He builds a solo yacht for his daughter Allie, who returns to England to look for Arthur’s long lost sister. A fictional story, based on facts… and there are a number of features in this book that make it an absolute winner… the maps, the boat designs, the email correspondence that reads like a diary between Allie and Arthur… nice little touches that add to the authenticity of the book.

Red Sand Blue Sky by Cathy Applegate: Amy, a city girl from Melbourne, went to stay with her aunt in the middle of the Outback. She and an Aboriginal girl, Lana, strike up a friendship. Together they discover that someone is stealing from an Aboriginal heritage site… they set out to discover who and why… this is quite an adventure for children who are confident with chapter book reading.

Previous Posts in this Series

Se7en Are Off on a Book Voyage

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

Interview on Growing up in South Africa on Simple Homeschool…

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

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

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

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

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


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→ 5 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Geography · Se7en at School

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun #327

August 20th, 2016 · 4 Comments

A entire week of sunshine… we made the very best of it… And I am having a weekend in a state of collapse, to recover, as one does!!!


Otherwise I have had literally dozens of emails in my inbox about homeschooling in the Western Cape recently, I really can’t get to them all… so here is my post with the answers you need: Homeschooling in the Western Cape, Especially the South Peninsula… If you are looking for details on homeschooling in South Africa in General I can’t recommend these two books enough… these books are relevant wherever you are, but very specifically answer your questions about the legalities of homeschooling in South Africa… Do you need to register or not, do you have to use a specific curriculum or not, how do you get a matric certificate and so on… I reviewed the Primary School One here…. and Interview the Author here…

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. I just love Poppytalk’s fun notebooks… I can think of a million uses for these, and you just need a printer… pop in your own coloured paper to get the colourful covers.
  2. The Magical Just So Festival is on this weekend in the UK… and you have to love Zing Zing Tree’s Beautiful Feather Bird Mask for the event.
  3. HandMade Charlotte rocked this week with a Giant Globe Piñata… followed by the cutest eco-green house…
  4. There is pure blogging gold in this older post from the Problogger: 7 Tips for Busy Bloggers on Finding Time to Blog…
  5. Meet Me At Mikes… is writing a new series: Pip’s School for Slumpy Creatives… Part 1 and Part 2…
  6. Can I move house now… Would you look at this Quaint Vintage Camper Trailer on Poppytalk.
  7. And The Great Parental Freak Out by Kevin De Young…

A Blast From the Past:

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Did You Know?

And here are a couple of things that got the absolute like from me this past week… (I wasn’t paid to say any of it… just genuine honest opinions that are all mine!!!).


Specsavers Right to Good Sight

This is a “public service statement…” for friends with kids between 6 and 12, did you know that Specsavers has free eye tests for kids in this age group… just had our guys eyes tested this week and their service was exceptional… just saying that you might want to check out your local Specsavers. (I wasn’t paid to say this at all… just thought you guys would like to know about it!!!).

Printables from Ideas Magazine

And since there was an HP printer in the house… did you know that you can buy all sorts of lovely printables from Ideas Magazine. Gotta love Ideas magazine… there is so much to love and so many pretty things to cut out and keep for projects and journals… who knew you could get all these goodies, print them out… for the win!!!

Tim Chase And Online Learning

If you have a middle to high school age student, then I highly recommend this free online course for them… Digital Learning: A course for becoming confident with modern online tools. Announcing a FREE seven-week online class. Our kids have done this, it had given them the tools and skills to go much further than they could have done on their own. It is a fun way to learn, students are expected to work hard and meet their deadlines and it is a fabulous way for them to learn a lot of online and work skills in a safe environement. The students work hard, and meet their their deadlines and the progress is impressive. Our kids have really learnt enormous amounts from it… our reluctant to be online ever kid learnt more than enough to work comfortably in an online classroom and our IT loving kid got just as much out of it… working to their strengths… You can take a look at the site and student assignments over here.

Digital Learning is Impact Virtual Learning’s most popular class–great as a stand-alone for your homeschooling teen or as a prerequisite for the Impact Virtual Learning electives. Digital Learning has received terrific responses from parents and students. You can see some of the reviews at The course features website creation, digital citizenship, and working with embed codes and design tools. You’ll love the teacher feedback, and your homeschooler will love the peer-interaction. Registrations are now being processed at

And a GiveAway Winner

All the entries…


Carefully chosen by a small person…

Jo Comment #9: Aug 9, 2016 at 10:37 am This would be lovely for my sons and daughter. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway. I always expect that we will run into your family one day (I was once on a flight with your husband but thought it would be odd to ask for an autograph) as you seem to be at the same places we go to!

Congratulations Jo, expect an email from us shortly, so that we can get your prize to you speedily!!!

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

→ 4 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Sanity Savers for HomeSchoolers and A Surprising Truth…

August 19th, 2016 · 11 Comments

It seems like just yesterday folks were finishing up there school years and getting ready for a break, and already, back to school posts are launching and folks are thinking about planning their new school year. Should their kids do more extra murals? Should they fit in an extra math program this year? Could they possibly add an extra reading session to their afternoon rest? The long list of the more we hope to do, in our minds quickly becomes the long list of the more we should do, and in our overwhelmed actions becomes the long terrifying list of things we just never do. This past year I tripped on a surprising truth and we got more school done that ever before… no I didn’t rename all our playing school, but I did focus on creating long stretches of free time daily.

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Every year I like to focus on just one thing… all our school gets done as usual, but one year I focused on reading skills, another year I focused on math games. This past year I focused on free time. I know my kids learn best when they pursue their passions, if they don’t know their passions, they still learn best and move forward without me hovering over them. It turns out they all have things that drive them and the things they would rather be doing if they weren’t doing school… it may be building forts, it may be LEGO, it may be running as fast as they can, it maybe brandishing sticks or making petal salad… whatever it is, I wanted my guys to have enough free time to get really good at what it is they wanted to pursue. Turns out, and here is my surprising truth: by removing lingering school time and creating stretches of free time, that the time we spent doing school was much more focused and we did a whole lot more school than I expected and we did it a whole lot more efficiently.

Se7en Sanity Savers for Homeschooling Moms

  1. Free Up Time for Actual Rest: Don’t save time just so that you can fit more things in. We are always searching for ways to make things go faster, let the big kids make lunch because then you can do a little more with the little ones… let the little ones sleep later, because then you can get a bit more preparation done. The key is that when you do things more efficiently it isn’t so that you can put more stuff into your already busy day… it is to create a pause for breath. That isn’t laziness, it is a need for a rest. I am a firm believer in naps… preferably not nodding off while I try and read to my kids… but before that, a full on committed collapse on the bed, and in this wintry season, with a blanket. My kids don’t nap, trust me, but they do have an hour of quiet reading after lunch, and I look forward to it.
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  3. Seize the Day not Squeeze the Day: When we are plotting and planning, and I speak for myself, homeschool moms can go a little crazy… dreaming of all the things we are going to do. A new year doesn’t actually mean that our days are now twice as long. Trust me things become a lot less exciting really quickly when we force ourselves through them. Take audible books, they are great and finally came into their own in our home last school year, but don’t use audible to try and squeeze in double the amount of read-a-louds. Sometimes our kids can just take a bath, or go for a quick drive without listening to a classic, it doesn’t all have to be educational. I started putting audible books on while I cooked dinner and everyone who joins me in the kitchen, and a few more have started joining me in the kitchen, have really enjoyed it. But it certainly isn’t school time.
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  5. Learn What Motivates Them: I cannot make my children learn anything… I can say this is tricky lets work on it together… but essentially they have to do the work and my job is to provide the environment that is conducive to learning. There will come a time when your children leave home and they have to work… I know you think it is never, but it is way sooner than you can imagine… If your kids can’t motivate themselves through the difficult stuff then you need to teach them how to do that. In school then their teacher would have ways to motivate their students, ask a few teacher friends how they motivate their students, you might be surprised at their skills. I know we get so caught up in switching programs because they aren’t working or trying something new, sometimes our students just need to know: It isn’t so much about whether they can do the work they don’t want to do… to get where they want to be, it is more about if they can do the difficult stuff then the things they want to do will be so much easier.
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  7. Stop Idolising ALL the other Homeschoolers: Other homeschoolers do amazing things, other homeschoolers go on fantastic outings, other homeschoolers have the most incredible naturejournals… If your kids have access to some paper and a pencil, then if nature note booking is their thing, then they will actively pursue it and you will not be able to hold them back… ever. And in essence, if your child doesn’t want to draw a beautiful sea-shell or make a water colour of a feather… chances are that that child won’t be pursing a career as a nature notebooker, they may however be very good at tying knots or carving sticks… it isn’t nature notebooking we should be pursuing so much as creativity. And I can guarantee you that a few afternoons with nothing mapped out for them, will bring out the creativity on your scholars.
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  9. Stay Focused on Your Goals: Don’t get distracted by all the homeschooling bling. All through the year new things cross our paths, I see wonderful new things to learn about and fabulous new resources to try. I usually dive in and say: look guys I have this fantastic new thing we are going to begin… we are all excited for about two weeks and then we fizzle. This past year I saved a list of new things that popped up as we went along, and now I have a list of good things to try in our next school year… all good and ready to go.
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  11. Good Enough is Great: Don’t steal their joy in the name of perfection. I always say school time is school time and be done… but I will often take the person that needs a little extra help and help them catch up in the afternoon… Well this year I didn’t. Free time was free time. I have one or two very slow plodders… there is no rushing them. I always try to help them get up to speed, but (I know slow learning mother person here) this is why we homeschool, they can learn at their own speed. The truth is, these children need to play just as much as their speedier schoolmates, if not more than the others… and I can’t do the work for my kids they have to do it. So I have 2 scholars that did 3/4 of a year of school and spent the rest of the year accumulating amazing building/planning/creating skills. I reckon 75% of the work done and a collection of new life skills is really a good year by any standard.
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  13. It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect To Be Excellent: Why did someone ever say that if it is worth doing something then it is worth doing well, and then to make it worse, why did we interpret that to mean it has to be perfect. Yes, science club and a few friends over to do science experiments is fun, but your kids can also spend an afternoon playing with magnets, yes poetry and home baked scones is wonderful, WONDERFUL, but you can also read a poem or two while everyone eats their breakfast. Just because there are millions of learning opportunities out there doesn’t mean you have to take them all. Go back to the reason you began homeschooling and with those fresh eyes look again at the opportunities that pass you by and then choose the ones that meet your learning criteria and forget the rest… your child doesn’t need to be exposed to every learning opportunity in order to discover their passion. You may never listen to opera and your child could still be an opera singer, you may never build a deck and your child might become a carpenter. Of course expose your children to a variety of things… but neither you nor your children have to do all of those things.

The thing is when homeschool moms gather together it is usually to lament on the woes of their journey, this child isn’t learning enough and that child never finishes timeously, and they haven’t even started their science experiments for the year. They haven’t looked at a globe in forever and not even glanced at language arts in the past two years… the thing is at the beginning of your homeschool journey the stretch ahead literally looks like an insurmountable mountain. Daunting to say the least. At some stage homeschooling moms, and I speak for myself here, tend to forget they are on a journey and try to carry the entire mountain, may I suggest that you put that mountain down and start to just slowly climb it again. You may well rediscover a spring in your step when you aren’t actually weighed down buy an entire mountain.


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→ 11 CommentsTags: Organizing School · Se7en at School

The Week That Was… #217

August 17th, 2016 · 8 Comments

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


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


Shew the crazy wild storms have stirred up the sea…


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


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


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


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


Pancakes for the win…


And every one is loving mini-personalized-omlettes…


The snack of choice…


And we are now making butter all the time…


And cooking in the wilds…


Braai-Broodjies for the win…


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


Audiobooks and colouring for the win…


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


These holidays have been all about the pirates…


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


And treasures…


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


Artwork of the Week


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


Game of the Week…


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


So Many Books of the Week…


So much reading…


Someone is obsessed with this book right now…








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


Hope you are all having a brilliant week!!!

→ 8 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

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

August 15th, 2016 · 8 Comments

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


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


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


Rain Was There

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


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


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


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


Jenny from the Entertainer App


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


KeyNote Speaker: Meet Photographer, Abigail K.

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


Se7en+1 Blogging Tips:

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

And Then Onto The Goody Bag


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


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


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

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

Previous CTMeetup Blog Posts

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

→ 8 CommentsTags: Blog Events · Blog School

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

August 13th, 2016 · No Comments

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


Welcome to Central and South America

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


And our favourite Chilli Poppers…


And of course Salsa…


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


Our Favourite Books from Central and South America

Se7en + 1 Picture Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Se7en + 1 Chapter Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous Posts in this Series

Se7en Are Off on a Book Voyage

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

Interview on Growing up in South Africa on Simple Homeschool…

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

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

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

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

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

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


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