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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,

 

Entertainment, Inspiration

Indoor Entertainment So Fun, Kids Won’t Know They Are Learning

May 26, 2018

If kids can’t play outside due to bad weather, it’s tempting to just plop them in front of the television and let that be their day, but kids need both physical and mental stimulation for healthy development. Of course, our children don’t want another day going over the same kind of lessons they do all day at school. However, I’ve put together some fun indoor activities to trick them into learning.

 

Playing Real Estate

Kids love activities where they get to use real-world applications and pretend they are adults. A great sector to tap into for these kinds of activities is real estate. Real estate is a complex field that requires skills in math, science, English, social studies and home economics. By incorporating real estate-based lessons into your curriculum, you can help students gain valuable skills in practical math application, presentation giving, forming a persuasive argument, earth science and so much more. Plus, learning about the real estate market is the kind of real-world knowledge schools just don’t pass along. From decorating a room to playing Monopoly, there are plenty of ways to incorporate real estate into your rainy-day activities.

 

Experiment with Household Objects

If you are looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon without having to run to the store for materials, there are tons of awesome kids’ science experiments you can do at home with common things you likely have lying around. For instance, this rainbow magic milk experiment only requires whole milk, dish soap and some food coloring for fun. You can teach your child all about the miracle of molecules and chemical reactions, but they’ll also love how much fun it is to swirl and mix the colors in their solution.

 

Online Art Lessons

Both kids and parents alike have to love visual arts. Not only are they a great medium for creative expression, the arts have plenty of developmental benefits for children. Young children develop fine motor skills and coordination while older kids help fine-tune their concentration and focus. While you may not be a Bob Ross yourself, you can encourage your children’s artistic endeavors through online art lessons that help them create beautiful images. Have your kids do at least one art lesson then let them have free time afterwards where they can use the skills they picked up in a new way.

 

Fun with Music

The melodies and rhythms in music have a way of catching a child’s attention and creating interest in a subject he would otherwise not care about. You can find all kinds of fun lessons that incorporate music online. From sing-a-longs that teach a foreign language to animated stories that spark the imagination, there are tons of options for younger kids. Older children can also try out learning to play an instrument with online lessons that teach them the basics. If you play an instrument as well, join them in their practice to encourage their development while providing an awesome opportunity for bonding.

 

Yoga for Kids

Yoga has boomed in popularity over the past couple of decades for a reason. In an increasingly hurried world, yoga forces us to slow down, breathe and listen to our bodies. Showing your child some yoga lessons for kids online can teach them about mindfulness techniques while improving flexibility and balance. Best of all, yoga is appropriate for kids of all ages from 2 to teens.

 

Being stuck inside doesn’t have to be a drag. You can entertain kids on bad weather days with the help of educational activities. Not only will you help pass the time, but also you will positively contribute to your child’s development.

 

Guest Writer: Jenny Wise
Jenny Wise created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families.

Entertainment, Inspiration, Slider

Best Places To Lunch With Mom this Mothers’ Day

April 22, 2018

It’s that time of year again when we pull out all the stops to show the women who raised us, just how incredibly special they are to us. Yes, just in case it slipped your minds, on 13 May we celebrate Mothers’ day, and if you’re not sure where to take mom for some spoils, then don’t worry, because I’ve taken care of that for you.

Our mamas absolutely love quality time with their children, so it will no doubt blow her away when surprised to a lovely afternoon tea or lunch at her favourite restaurant with the most beautiful views. Whether your mom loves to just relax with her tea while she takes in her surrounds or whether she prefers long walks after, one thing we know for sure is that when it comes to mother’s day celebrations, we never compromise.

 

Tea by the sea at The 12 Apostles

Leopard Bar & Conservatory

Victoria Road, Camps Bay
Reserve:  021 437 9000

 

Shimmy Beach Club

12 S Arm Rd, V & A Waterfront

Reserve:  021 200 7778 / info@shimmybeachclub.co.za

 

Vineyard Hotel

Colinton Rd, Newlands

Reserve: 021 657 4500

 

Grand Africa Beach Cafe

Haul Rd, V & A Waterfront

Reserve: 021 431 5888

 

Vista Bar & Lounge at The One & Only

Dock Road, V & A Waterfront

Reserve:  021 431 4511 or 021 431 5888 or email: restaurant.reservations@oneandonlycapetown.com

 

Signal Restuarant at the Cape Grace 

W Quay Rd, V & A Waterfront

Reserve: 021 410 7080

 

High Tea at the Mount Nelson

76 Orange St, Cape Gardens

Reserve: 021 483 1000

 

High Tea or Gourmet Picnic at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Gate 2 Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Rhodes Drive Newlands

Reserve: 021 797 4883

 

Long Sunday Lunch at Boschendal 

R310 Pniel Road Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek

Reserve: 021 870 4200

 

Full Day and Half Day Spa Treatments at Bakwena Spa

Zevenwacht Wine Estate, Langverwacht Road, Kuils River

Reserve: 0861 222 928

 

Whatever you do, have a Happy Mothers’ Day!

Love,

 

Entertainment, Lifestyle

Easter Holiday Hacks to keep the kids busy

March 28, 2018

The Easter Holidays have arrived and children across the country are celebrating, no more school for two whole weeks! Meanwhile, moms across the country are waking up in a cold sweat. No more school for two whole weeks!

 If you’re a mom, unless you plan ahead, the common childhood complaint of boredom will haunt you these holidays.

Blue Horizon Licensing, exclusive representatives of Mattel Consumer Products in South Africa, was kind enough to share with us their five easy and totally fun Easter holiday hacks to help keep the kids busy.

1)     Host a Barbie picnic 

Summer is drawing to a close, so take full advantage of a sunny day by hosting a Barbie-themed Easter picnic. Let your little girls invite a couple of friends over, tell them to dress in Barbie pink, and bring their favourite Barbie dolls to join in the fun. Spread a blanket on the lawn, bring out the Barbie tea set, and roll in the Barbie Food Truck. Complete the picture with a couple of jugs of water (or pink milk, if you’re feeling brave!) and a selection of real biscuits.

This picnic combines imaginative play, allowing the kids to order their ‘food’ from the truck – select from hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza slices and a variety of ice creams – with water play, as they pour and drink their ‘tea’. Water play is especially good for toddlers, helping to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination. It is also regarded as one of the best starting blocks for building Maths and Science skills, introducing them to concepts such as empty, full, half full, and – most likely – spillage (As a bonus, give them some cloths, maybe they will learn to clean up after themselves too!)

When the picnic draws to a close, surprise them with an impromtu Easter Egg hunt in the garden. You’ll be the most popular mom on the block!

2)     Build a Hot Wheels rally track

Nothing entertains children quite like toy cars, so why not host an outdoor Hot Wheels rally championship? This season’s hottest Hot Wheels includes a selection of bikes, monster trucks, drift cars and mini quads – perfect for outdoor terrain.

Build a traditional track using the Hot Wheels track builder, but encourage the kids to expand their play into the garden, using sand and mud to create their own rally courses. Up the ante by introducing Hot Wheels Light and Sound Master Blaster or Hyper Racer, or blast into turbo speed with the remote control Nitro Charger.

Sand and mud play is widely recognised as one of the joys of childhood, not only because the kids are actually encouraged to get dirty, but also for its open-endedness – there really is no limit to what kids can build, no right and wrong, and no end to the entertainment. While some kids simply enjoy the sensation of playing with mud, others will relish the opportunity to build intricate tracks, with obstacles constructed of sticks, leaves and stones. Just remember to dress the kids in old clothing – this game is bound to get dirty!

3)     Throw a Slumber party

Chickens aren’t the only animals that lay eggs this Easter – Dinosaurs do too! So why not throw a Barney-themed slumber party? If the kids are too young to sleep over, suggest a ‘sleep under’ – where they come for early evening dinner and fun, but go home to sleep in their own beds. Tell the kids to bring their own Barney, you supply some Barney coloring books and colouring crayons, plus a couple of Barney floor puzzles that they can all do together. End the evening with a selection of Barney DVDs, filled with music and fun that kids simply can’t resist. Love him or hate him, Barney holds a special place in the hearts of all children, teaching them kindness, manners and the value of good old fashioned fun.

4)     Ten Pin Bowling: Barbie vs Barney

Ten pin bowling is all the rage these holidays, perfect for either indoor or outdoor play. And with the Barney Bowling set and Barbie’s Pinktastic Bowling set, you’re all set for a nail-biting Ten Pin tournament. Purple vs Pink. Barney vs Barbie.

Ball skills are another vital building block in childhood development, teaching hand eye co-ordination, motor skills and timing. Hosting a friendly tournament is also a great way to introduce young children to competitive play, teaching them the joy of winning, but also the inevitability of losing, and the importance of being a good sport, win or lose.

5)     Take the kids shopping

Shopping with toddlers always sounds like a bad idea, but this Easter Toy Kingdom South Africa is hosting a series of Easter Egg hunts. Kicking off on March 31, stores at the East Rand Mall, Gateway, Sandton, Menlyn, V&A Waterfront and Canal Walk, will host a series of eggciting Easter Egg hunts, allowing kids the freedom to run through their favourite Toy Kingdom stores and join in the search for hundreds of chocolate eggs, plus the chance to find one of 2 golden eggs per store – and win an eggstra eggciting prize! The hunt promises to keep kids busy for at least 30 minutes, just enough time for mom to grab a cup of coffee, which is sometimes all you need to restore your sanity.

 

About Blue Horizon Licensing

Blue Horizon Licensing (Pty) Ltd. is a global leader in brand licensing and has represented Mattel Consumer Products exclusively in South Africa for over 15 years, working with brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels™, Barney & Friends, Thomas & Friends, Fisher-Price® and Scrabble

In 2017, the creative team approved over 820 different product styles for Barbie alone, and sold over 10 million units, making South Africa one of the leading regions for consumer product sales of the Barbie brand. Visit www.blueh.co.za for more information.

 

From your friends at Mattel and Fabmon,

Have a very happy Easter holiday!

Entertainment, Fashion, Inspiration, Slider

Happy March 2018! #YouCanBeAnything

March 1, 2018

 

Besides this being both my and my son’s birthday month, I am also extremely excited for and proud of  Mattel’s continued efforts to help our children recognize a broader view of beauty with their Barbie Fashionista range which incorporates the diversity that surrounds us all the time.

So many times we look back and reminisce the old days when life was ‘easier’ and ‘kids were kids’. So many ugly and negative things today we wish our kids were never exposed to. Perhaps the old days were good days, but that certainly does not mean they were any better than they are today. Among many others, the “Me Too” movement has proven how far we’ve actually come and how much we, as a human race, have matured. If you really think about it, we have more power today to make things so much better than what they were yesterday.

My sweet daughter is turning 8 this year and even though I have been buying her Barbie dolls for a long time, Barbie only really started to appeal to her very recently. A tender time in a young girl’s life – she’s just come from toddler-hood and nearing adolescence. It’s important that our young girls are exposed to positivity about their bodies, their skin colour, their hair types and even their sense of style.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the Barbie brand celebrates its 59th anniversary the day after International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018, celebrating women from all walks of life, all shapes, all sizes, all colours, and all creeds.

The Barbie Fashionista range has its roots in 2015, which saw the launch of a brand new Barbie crew featuring 23 dolls with a range of skin tones, facial structures, and hair colours. The popularity of the new line saw the official launch of the Fashionista label in 2016, with the introduction of three new body types – tall, curvy and petite – seven skin tones, 14 facial structures, 22 eye colours and 24 hairstyles. Plus, of course, countless new on-trend fashions and accessories to suit each individual doll, from casually cool and boho bold, to elegant evening wear and pretty much everything in between!

In 2017, this remarkable range won the coveted Toy of the Year award, in the Doll category, for its bold introduction of diversity, literally changing the face of the stereotypical Barbie brand by introducing new dolls with new body shapes, new face shapes, new skin tones, and new hairstyles.

The importance of exposing our children to diversity and providing them with imaginative toys that allow them to see themselves in their imaginary play cannot be overstated. Today, the Fashionista range features over 100 dolls of diverse appearance, and it continues to grow.

The 2018 range will bring with it even more variety, introducing another four body types, nine skin tones, 13 face-sculpts, nine eye colours, 11 hair colours and 13 hairstyles.

“Barbie has always given girls choices – from her 180 careers, to inspirational roles, to her countless fashions and accessories,” says Andrea Ziella, Head of Marketing and Trade Marketing, Mattel SA. “These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.”

Barbie fans can now choose their Barbie to look just like them or create a group of friends to mimic their own friendship circles.

By allowing our children to choose a Barbie in their own image, or in the image of their best friend, or favourite actress, singer, movie star, or sporting hero, we are encouraging them to see the beauty that not only lies in their own shape, colour, and style but also in the various shapes, colours and styles that surround them.

We live in an increasingly diverse world, it is not only natural but crucial, that our children’s imaginary worlds represent this diversity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images are taken from https://barbie.mattel.com/en-us/about/role-models.html

Happy International Women’s Month, and remember, you can be anything.

Love,