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

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Se7en Visits Robben Island for A Beach Clean Up…

October 22nd, 2018 · No Comments

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


I love this photo, not perfect, but all the elements… Robben Island with Cape Town in the background, totally the opposite view to our usual one. It was a very cold and early start for the gang… we had to get way across the city before the Friday morning traffic hit.

It was quite an achievement, and we made it, even if we didn’t have time for coffee on the way.
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Our vessel was waiting for us… and off we went. “Good Bye Cape Town,” and about half an hour later… “Hello, Robben Island.”
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The Reason for the Season


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


We were armed with gloves and beach cleanup bags from seal and gear, and buckets of enthusiasm…

Documenting our finds all the way…

Dozens and dozens of plastic bottles and even more cooldrink bottle tops, not to mention carrier bags… together we collected about 15 bags of trash, including an entire bag of really weird stuff…

Let’s just pause and talk about the trash… a lot of the beach cleanups that we do are in the more remote parts of Cape Point Nature Reserve. Yes a marine reserve, with very little human traffic passing through it, a handful of hikers a week at the most… the garbage we collect there is washed onshore, from passing ships… gloves, shoes, plastic containers, litter from poachers and of course a lot of fishing twine.

The other cleanups we do are in Muizenberg, along with the beach co-op, we collect a couple of buckets of garbage every month… the kind of garbage we find are plastic bags, straws and sweetie wrappers… and fishing tackle.

But the trash on Robben Island was different to both of these… it was plentiful, there was masses of it. We did not have to look for it we just had to pick it up. The question many folk ask us was where did all the garbage come from? About 150 people live there, and even though there are thousands of tourists passing through, the tourists don’t pass through the area that we were cleaning up. So, where does the garbage come from?
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The question we should be asking is where does your litter go… because every scrap of litter goes somewhere. When you drop a piece of paper in a parking lot, or in the street in ends up in the gutter, the water flows from the gutter into the drains and when it rains, down the drains and into our sea… its not a surprise… it is the way it is everywhere. Litter ends up in the ocean… if you live in a city far from the ocean, or of you live along the coast like we do, your litter ultimately goes into the ocean.
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Robben Island, just across the bay from a huge city like Cape Town is in the firing line so to speak, as Cape Town’s litter flows into the sea and out into the ocean, Robben Island acts as a basket, gathering it all as it passes by. I can tell you that any litter you have tossed in the street in Cape Town in the last couple of months, my kids and I, and a team of eco-warriors picked up, along the shores of Robben Island.

We need anti-littering campaigns now like never before… I remember as a small child, at anti-litter campaign that came to our school, very firmly pledging to never, ever litter. And I meant it. We need a world wide campaign… until people start realising where their garbage goes they will not change…

Let’s look beyond the litter

Apart from the history of this site, there is a reason it is a heritage site, unprecedented natural beauty…
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On a coastal island… with ship wrecks and seabirds…

Of course there were sea shells…


But the true magic was in the season… nesting season, and a whole lot of magic… each egg is unique, and each one a delight.

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





All Thanks to the Beach Co-Op

Thanks to the Beach Co-op for the invitation…

The total cleanup consisted of a team of 99 people, who collected about 170 full bags of marine debris. The highest item collected was cooldrink lids at 2469, followed by individual sweet wrappers at 1197 and finally straws at 963.


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

The Gallery…




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Fast Facts…

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

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

Robben Island Cleanup

→ No CommentsTags: Green Living · Outdoors · Outings · Visit Cape Town

Se7en Things That You Need to Know Right Now…

October 20th, 2018 · No Comments

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


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

    The view of my days just lately

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

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


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


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



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

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

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Fun

Se7en Reviews: Jamie Cooks Italy…

October 12th, 2018 · No Comments

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


One thing about Jamie Oliver recipes is that because he is cooking for his own family, the recipes are designed with families in mind. Most of them have ingredients that you can pick out or leave off for that one picky eater, but saying that, they are full of ingredients that we don’t eat every day – so lots of interesting things to try. The joy of his choice of ingredients is that you can usually find them in the local supermarket, and if you can’t find the ingredients you can easily exchange them for something that you can get in season, or locally.

Jamie Cook’s Italy took two years to create, as he travelled around Italy with his best friend Gennaro Contaldo. Together they explored and tasted their way through recipes in each region, created by the nonno’s and nonna’s of Italy. These are recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, real food that real Italians cook in their homes. The book is packed with little tips and tricks that turn previously “too difficult to even try” recipes into recipes that we can create in our home everyday. This book is a taste bud delight… 400+ pages, packed with 140 recipes… and all things Italian. Fresh seasonal ingredients and recipes cooked from the heart of Italy. Really is there anything better than Grandma’s cooking, in whatever language you are speaking?

We got together with friends and created a family feast for many… it was definitely a chance for the kids to be in the kitchen, to try new flavours and create beautiful food that they really wanted to eat… We are going to give you a tour of the recipes we tried…

Se7en Recipes We Tried and Tested

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Matera Salad

This recipe really does pass not only the rainbow test of healthy eating, but it packs a whole lot of crunch into it too… not to mention, just layering it up takes a bunch of individual ingredients to a whole, new and somewhat sublime level… This feels like a plate of summer sunshine and even on a wintry day it would bring a whole new level of warmth to your table…
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A delicious dressing over layers of oranges, red cabbage, cucumber, carrots, mint, apples, rocket… and we couldn’t find a ball of burrata cheese, so settled on a soft creamy cheese… to which one inspired tester decided to add camembert as well… as one does!!!
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Corteccia is Italian for tree bark, and with eight kids standing by and a large batch of pasta dough, it was surprisingly quick to create a massive batch of pasta… without any of the hassle of mastering the pasta machine and rolling it out. Simple pinch a small piece of dough off the batch, roll it into a little sausage and squash your fingers into them, like peas in a pod… shake the noodle off your fingers and you are good to begin the next one. Once you have a pile of noodles ready to cook, you can whip up his broccoli pesto,… though we didn’t have enough broccoli lovers to make this worth our while, so we swapped it out and used baby spinach. Baby spinach, garlic, anchovies, chilli flakes, olive oil and lemon juice… so quick so easy… and truly delicious.
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Potato Gnocchi

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

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

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Neapolitan Pizza Base

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

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

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

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

Previous Jamie Oliver Posts

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

→ No CommentsTags: Cook Book Reviews · Family Recipes

Happy Brilliant Belated Birthday to Hood 5…

October 8th, 2018 · 2 Comments

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


This is a kid that works his way to the top…

He enjoys the view from up there…

Always, always ready to lend a helping hand…

To whoever needs a helping hand…

Loves everything to do with hiking… and the great outdoors…

Not afraid to get dirty…

Or go racing through the wilds…

Has done bazillions of Beach Cleanups…

He is always the first one in the water and the very last one out…

Leaping into fourteen… Hope you have the best year ever!!!

Happy Brilliant Birthday




The Celebrity Chef’s Recipe Collection.

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

→ 2 CommentsTags: Our Events

Se7en’s October… A Little Late…

October 6th, 2018 · No Comments


For the first time ever a Calendar post got away from us, as we went off on a hiking adventure into the Karoo… but we are back and here is our October Calendar…


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

Se7en’s October

1 October: Homemade Cookies Day

1 October 1908: Henry Ford Introduced the Model T

1 October 1924: Jimmy’s Carter Birthday (1924-)

2 October 1950: Peanuts First Published

2 October 1869: Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (1869 – 1948)

3 October 1906: SOS Established

3 October 1189: Richard I (The Lionheart) crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey

3 October 1916: James Herriot’s Birthday (1916 – 1995)

4 October: Child Health Day

7 October: National Poetry Daythis day moved to September 28 this year, but it is too good to miss!!!)

7 October 1885: Niels Bohrs Birthday (1885 – 1962)

8 October 1871: Great Fire of Chicago

9 October: First Two Way Telephone Conversation

9 October: Leif Erikson Day

9 October: Mouldy Cheese Day

9 October: World Post Day

11 October 1884: Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)

11 October 1880: Boer War Began

12 October: Columbus Day

12 October: National Fossil Day

14 October 1066: Battle of Hastings

15 October: National Grouch Day

16 October: World Food Day

16 October: World Dictionary Day

19 October 1879: Thomas Edison Demonstrated the Electric Light Bulb

21 October: Apple Day

21 October 1959: Guggenheim Museum Opened

23 October 1940: Pele’s Birthday (1940 – )

23 October: Mother in Laws Day

24 October 2009: United Nations Day

25 October 1881: Pablo Picasso’s Birthday (1881 – 1973)

26 October 1836: International Red Cross Organised in Switzerland

27 October: International School Library Day

27 October 1848: Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthday (1858 – 1919)

28 October 1886: Statue of Liberty Dedicated

30 October 1735: John Adam’s Birthday (1735 – 1826)

31 October 1941: Mt. Rushmore completed

31 October: Halloween

→ No CommentsTags: Activity Calendar

Birthday Season and Hood 8 is 9…

October 1st, 2018 · No Comments

I have no idea how time flies so fast… but our little Hood 8 just turned 9… and he bakes a fantastic cake…


Happy Brilliant Birthday Hood 8


Our adventurer in training. Always drawing, reading, hiking running….

The kid who never just sits in a car, but absorbs the world that flies past him…

Chef in training…

Always on the run…

The creator of millions of pancakes…

Hardly ever has his feet on the ground…

Lover of wildlife…

Creator of ships…

Fantastic gatherer if friends…


Master of Arms…

And anything at sea…

Into the sea…

Really into the sea…

Once a pirate… always a pirate…


You Can Read About His Well Documented Life Here…


→ No CommentsTags: Home Truths

Birthday Season at the House of Se7en…

September 21st, 2018 · 4 Comments

So we have been ridiculously busy lately, and that is even before we head into the busy end of year season… I have been dying for even a moment of time with all my kids… just as they are… in the great outdoors.


So blue skies, ice-cream and a mini-beach day with this gang was my birthday treat today… It worked. That and coffee with friends and my happiness bucket is full. I love how the Hoods all made the effort to be home today. Your kids will grow up and all be busy with different things, and they will still make time for the important things like hanging out together and making sure they are home for family institutions like birthday ice-cream.

Enjoy the weekend and we will see you on the other side…

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Our Events