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Entertainment, Inspiration, Slider

The Hidden Costs Of Extracurricular Activities

February 7, 2019

When the kids first started school, I knew it wouldn’t come cheap. By then we’ve done extensive research on the average school fees for public schooling in South Africa, and made a comprehensive list of good schools based on what’s most suitable for our family. When the time came around to shop for school uniforms, the costs completely blew my mind and it was at this exact moment that I realized how expensive having kids really are.  More accurately, how expensive having school-going kids are.

Unfortunately, it would appear, salaries don’t magically increase when the kids start school and the unexpected day-to-day costs begin to pile up, so we began our kids’ journey into schooldom by cutting down on as many of our monthly luxuries possible. This meant fewer trips to the cinema and more movie dates at home, fewer Spur lunches and happy meals and more weekends around the braai, and allot less impromptu long drives out of town (guilty pleasure) and more time at the community park.

We thought we had it all figured out, until one day Jada came home from school and announced she now belongs to the drama academy and the swim club, and Miguel suddenly needed gear and equipment for all the different types of sports he was “trying out” for. Extracurricular activities are great opportunities for kids to build their confidence and to meet new friends, so of course, we agreed. However, we knew simply cutting out on take-out and movies wasn’t going to do and that we needed a more solid game plan.

We now have a savings account, the emergency fund as we call it , especially for those unexpected costs and it’s been working great for us so far. It’s certainly served its purpose to help with the extramural fees every term and comes in handy when we need to get costumes, equipment and prepare for sudden school trips.

All these unplanned-for costs really do become a heavy burden to bear for many families. You’re not alone in this. Parents are working double shifts or even doing double jobs altogether to make sure their kids are able to participate in school activities, apart from school fees and uniforms that are mandatory in almost all South African schools. To so many parents out there, sending kids to school seems more like a privilege than a right and others go as far as to avoid certain, more “superior” schools, simply because they’re afraid they may not be able to afford all the “hidden costs”. Sure, we can opt out of participating in extramural activities, but the truth is that pressure from both the school and our children makes it difficult to say no every time.

I found a great list of the best savings accounts in SA and the best returns according to Moneytoday.co.za. During these difficult financial times, it also doesn’t hurt to speak to a financial adviser to help you make the right decision and point you in the right direction, whether short or longterm because all our kids deserve the best and to experience the best school has to offer.

Books/Movies, Entertainment, Inspiration, Slider

What’s all the hype about Goodreads, anyway? 

November 26, 2018

Whether you’re a big lover of books, or not so big, chances are you’ve stumbled upon Goodreads at some point. You were most likely searching for reviews for some book you’ve been meaning to get your hands on when you did. No surprise here – that’s exactly how I discovered Goodreads. My biggest mistake at the time, though,  was thinking that Goodreads is just a book review site, so I’d spend hours upon hours reading through all the reviews (it gets really addictive) and nothing else.

Once I took the time to actually look around the site more, I discovered that Goodreads has so much more to offer than just awesome reviews!

Here’s why I love Goodreads:

My Books

It’s a virtual bookshelf and your own personal online library, giving you instant access to almost any book you can imagine. Think of Belle when the beast first shows her the library in his castle, or Hogwarts library in Harry Potter! Although you cannot actually read the books you shelf directly on Goodreads, it’s a great place to organize all the books you’ve ever read and all the books you’re planning to read. It’s a bookworm’s heaven!

 

Reading Challenge

Nothing is more motivating than setting goals and competing –  against yourself! I absolutely love the Goodreads Reading Challenge! You decide how many books you’ll read before the end of each year, and when you reach your goal, you’re rewarded with an honorary badge that stays on your profile, and the sweet satisfaction of knowing you’ve reached your goal.

You know your reading habits, your lifestyle, and your motivation levels. Don’t set yourself unrealistic reading challenge goals. There are members with a Reading Challenge goal in the hundreds, even thousands; and there are those starting off with a reading challenge of only 10 books.  Both are perfectly okay if it means it fills your soul with joy.

 

Trivia & Quizzes

Need some time to just unwind and let your general knowledge juices flow? You’ll love these! Be careful, because they are quite addictive. Whether it’s a quiz about your favourite books, genres or Game Of Thrones – you’re likely to find it here.  And if you don’t, then you can create your own!

 

Widgets

If you have your own website or blog, or if you have an email account, then you’ll love this!  Show off the cover of the book you’re currently reading when responding to emails.  Friends and clients alike are sure to be impressed and maybe even inspired.  At the same time display your bookshelf, reading challenge, or a favourite quote on your website or blog. It’s a fun way to show off your book obsession and meet other book lovers out there.

 

Book Barcode Scanner

We already use our smartphones to scan everything – documents, audio, video, when we go to the store – so why not also books?

Instead of manually searching for books on the site and adding them to your reading shelves, simply scan the barcode of books you find interesting while browsing a bookstore. This will bring up all the information about the book and you can then decide on which shelf it should go!

I swear, I’m obsessed.

 

Book Recommendations

Another reason I love Goodreads is for how easy it is to recommend books to your friends and to find book recommendations for yourself! I no longer have to search high and low for my next exciting read, which I spent most of my life doing.

Goodreads made my life so much easier!

 

Compare Books

Imagine finding your reading twin! Well, with Goodreads that’s highly likely with its nifty “compare book” feature that lets you find other users of the site with the same taste in books as you. Neat, huh?

 

Chat With Your Favourite Author!

Authors are understandably very busy with all that writing going on. There’s hardly time to casually book chat with their adoring readers, but Goodreads has thankfully bridged this gap and made communication between author and reader so much more convenient. Authors are happy to answer any burning questions you have about their work through the “Ask the Author” feature on the site. This feature is controlled by the author, so keep an eye out for when it’s turned on and ask away!

 

Join As Many Groups As You Like!

Goodreads is rich with many diverse groups (or virtual book clubs as I like to refer to them). There’s a group or groups for everyone, and if you don’t find anything you’re interested in, then go on and create your own group!

 

Become a Goodreads Librarian

Think you got what it takes? Librarians are long-time users of the site and are passionate about keeping their “library” neat and tidy. They also know the librarian manual, aka the Goodreads rulebook, by heart and are happy to quickly remind users what the rules are when adding and editing book data.  The great news is that you too can apply to be a Goodreads librarian. Though you won’t need to learn the Dewy Decimal System, you will need to know the librarian Manual.

 

These are just a few of the reasons why I love Goodreads and why I recommend you give it a try! It’s the app to have and the community to be a part of. For now these are my top 10 best features, but I’m sure once you’ve had a look around you’ll be able to find your own reasons for loving the world’s largest online community for book lovers.

Happy birthday Goodreads!

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Entertainment, Lifestyle, Slider

Exciting Wine Tasting Experiences Around The Cape Winelands

November 6, 2018

Wine & Food Pairing at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards


This photo of Leopard’s Leap is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Great and affordable wines. Great, but overpriced food. Family friendly with a lovely kids play area. Beautiful views that goes on for days…

Classic Ranges @ R40PP // Premium Ranges @ R55PP // Private Group Tastings @ R65PP

Tuesdays – Saturdays from 09:00 – 17:00 and Sundays 11:00 – 17:00

Recommended: Wine and Food Pairing @ R250PP

Phone: 021 876 8002
Bookings: info@leopardsleap.co.za
Website: leopardsleap.co.za
Address: R45 Main Rd, Franschhoek
 

Underground Candle Lit Tasting at Weltevrede Wine Estate


This photo of Weltevrede Jonkers Family Wine Farm is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Escape the norm and book an underground tasting experience. Unique tasting experience. Friendly hosts. Interesting stories. Beautiful views!
Chocolate and Cheese pairing at R100PP
Recommended: Underground candlelit tasting from R120PP
Monday – Friday 8AM – 5PM
Saturday & public holidays 9AM – 3.30PM
Phone: 023 616 2141
Bookings: info@weltevrede.com
Website: weltevrede.com
Address: R317, Bonnievale

Wine and Biltong Pairing at Marianne Wine Estate


This photo of Marianne Wine Estate Guesthouse is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: What a pleasant surprise! Where has this place been all my life?

Interesting fact: Their flagship wine, Floreal, the very first vintage produced, and was served at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday at Buckingham Palace.

Recommended: Wine & Biltong Experience at R115PP

 Phone: 021 875 5040
Address: Valley Road – Off R44, Stellenbosch, 7600

Macaron and wine tasting at Blaauwklippen


This photo of Blaauwklippen is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Great place for the whole family, lovely market, kids and dog friendly.  However, no dogs allowed in the tasting room!
Recommended: Macaron and wine tasting R150 PP
Phone: 021 880 0133
Bookings: www.blaauwklippen.com
Where: Strand Road, R44 Stellenbosch

Pizza and Wine Pairing at Brenaissance Wine and Stud Estate


This photo of Brenaissance Wine & Stud Estate is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Beautiful place, lekker pizza and wine, lots of space for kids to play!
Recommended: Full house pizza and wine pairing
Monday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Phone: 021 200 2537
Bookings: info@brenaissance.co.za
Where: Devon Valley Rd, Stellenbosch

Tapas, Oysters and Bubbly at Haute Cabriere


This photo of Haute Cabriere is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Come for the wine tastings!

Recommended: Cellar tours and tastings, also experience  “True Marriage of Food and Wine” with a menu that revolves around the estate’s wines.

bubbly and wine tasting
Taps and wine pairing
Mondays – Fridays 10h00 – 18h00
Saturdays and Public Holidays 10h00 – 18h00
Sundays 11h00 – 16h00.
Phone: 021 876 8500
Bookings: restaurant@cabriere.co.za
Where: Lambrechts Rd, Franschhoek

Wildcat Park Tour and Wine Tasting at Vredenheim


This photo of Vredenheim is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Stunning venue for family picnics, lovely selection of animals, wonderful place for the whole family! Bring your sun hat on warm days!
Recommended: Cat Park and Gin tasting!
Monday – Sunday, from 9am – 4.30pm
Phone:021 881 3878
Where: Vredenheim Wine Estate on the R310 / Baden Powell outside Stellenbosch

Craft Beer and Biltong Pairing at Signal Gun Wines


This photo of Ke-monate is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Great place to hang out with friends, large kids play area, interesting pairings!
Recommended: Craft Beer Pairing
Everything from Beer and biltong tasting, wine and Turkish delight tasting, wine infused toffees and more!
Bookings: tasting@signalgun.com
Website: signalgun.com
Where: Hooggelegen Rd, Durbanville

Food and Wine Pairing at De Grendel Wine Estate


This photo of De Grendel Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Simply one of the best experiences in Cape Town, good quality wine, and the place to be with family and friends on a beautiful day!  A world-class Winelands experience and should be on every wine lover’s itinerary.

Recommended: Food and Wine pairing

Phone: 021 558 6280
Bookings: tasting@degrendel.co.za
Where: De Grendel Wine Estate and Restaurant, Plattekloof Road, Panorama

Kiddies Pairing at Creation Wines


This photo of Creation Wines is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What The Reviews Say: Guests highly recommend splurging on the wine and food pairing if you can!
What’s on offer:
Creation Wines Tasting: R50PP
Kiddies Pairing: R114PP
Wine and Chocolate Pairing: R130PP
Food and wine tasting: R565PP
Tea and food pairing: R600PP
And so much more…
Daily between 10H00 and 17H00
Phone: 028 212 1107
Where: Hemel & Aarde Rd R320, Hermanus

“Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.”
― G.K. Chesterton, Heretics
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Entertainment

2018 Jive Cape Town Comedy Festival

July 14, 2018

Last night was my and Lesley’s first time at the Jive  Cape Town Comedy Festival and what a treat for the tummy muscles!  The annual comedy festival has been running successfully at the Baxter theatre for the last fourteen years and has been a steady platform for many local comedians who went on to become international sensations – including, the now world-famous, Trevor Noah. As you can imagine it was a night full of roaring laughter and a 2.5 hours well spent with the funny man himself, Alan Committie, as the host. No seriously, this dude is funny as hell, and could easily have stolen the whole show if it wasn’t for Rob Van Vuuren’s rant of his first time on the metrofail…I mean metrorail train, or Tats Nkonzo’s recollection of the “tot of bal” game he was taught ( I still have no idea how this game goes because I was laughing too much), or Marc’s usual dramatics on politics and Ashwin Willemse.

Not only is the Comedy Festival worth checking out for its obviously brilliant lineup, but you will also have the opportunity to interact and support the okes over at the Zip Zap Circus, who help, inspired and educate kids from all backgrounds, in the arts. How amazing!  If those are not reasons enough to come out and cheer up your winter blues, you can also look forward to being spoiled with amazing discount vouchers from City Siteseeing and Table Mountain Cableway, so you and your kids can explore Cape Town like tourists, but more affordably. Much, much more affordably! It’s also a great way to make up to your kids for leaving them with grandma while you and hubby went out on a date night to the funny festival!

Needless to say, we had an amazing night of laughter (and good wine and food). I encourage you to go out and support our local and international funny guys and girls. Get your tickets here

 

Rated PG 13 // 9 July – 5 August // 8pm // R190pp //  Main Rd, Rondebosch, Cape Town

 

Yours in laughter,

 

Books/Movies, Inspiration, Slider

2018 Franschhoek Literary Festival

June 1, 2018

I’ve always wanted to go to the literary festival in the Franschhoek valley, I just never got around to it, and then finally decided this will be the year!

There honestly couldn’t be a more perfect town to host the festival with its picturesque beauty. Franschhoek is home to many historic buildings, no-doubt telling stories of their own, and blowing new life into these historic buildings every autumn, are the many interesting book discussions with acclaimed authors, and live performances by other local and international artists throughout the long-weekend.

In the wine valley of Franschhoek you can sip on anything from a merlot to champagne while taking it all in on the green, lush lawns.  You’ll be delighted by the rows of quaint coffee shops, boutiques,  restaurants, and art galleries while strolling down the main road painted brightly with Autumn leaves. This fille française also has no shortage of grand guest houses, and provides a tranquil escape from the bustling city life for locals and tourists flocking to the valley year after year.

For our stay we chose the gorgeous Val d’or Estate Country Guest House to be our home away from home, and received a warm and welcoming reception from our hosts. The rooms are modern, cozy, spacious and the entire place just downright gorgeous. We really couldn’t fault a thing.

The Franschhoek literary festival is a wonderful opportunity not only for authors and artists to interact with the public and promote their wonderful work, but it’s also a great way to encourage reading in both young and old.

Until we’ve seen more of our youth get involved, it’s not fully achieved its goal yet.

 

For more information about the Festival, and to get involved, email Sheenagh at help@flf.co.za


As always, I’m leaving you with a few pictures taken by my talented husband, photographer, and my muse.

 

 

Yours in books,