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Health, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Slider

You Got This: Handling the Holidays with a Solid Morning Routine

December 24, 2018

What is your family’s morning routine like? Does it vary from day to day and completely fall to pieces when the holidays roll around? There is an old saying, “Well begun is half done,” and there is no better strategy for breezing through the season stress-free than with a strong morning regimen. Need some tips? We’ve got you covered.

Maintain Your Game

Kids seem to have boundless amounts of energy anyway, and the holidays tend to build their vim and vigor to crazy heights. When your youngsters start thinking about presents, Santa, and holiday snacks, keeping up with them can be daunting at best if you aren’t taking good care of yourself. One recommendation is to make sure you stay on top of your game with actions that keep your energy levels strong. Ensure you get a good night’s sleep each night, and don’t indulge in too many holiday goodies. Instead, stick with a nutritious diet, and make sure to drink enough water, since insufficient hydration can lead to feeling tired.

Also, the busyness of the season can often lead to days getting away from us. One way to ensure you stay on top of your fitness regimen is by putting together a home gym, so working out is convenient in spite of the countless holiday obligations.

Conquer the Clutter

Clutter can lead to disruption and chaos, especially in the mornings. When you can’t find your tweezers, Sally is looking for her curling iron, and Jimmy can’t find his deodorant, you might all be tripping over each other to get yourselves ready to conquer the day when what you really need to do is conquer the clutter. This can be especially challenging if you’re all sharing a small bathroom, but as Good Housekeeping points out there are plenty of ways to keep the space organized and efficient. Look for solutions that optimize walls and shelves and group like items together, and consider adding small, attractive and functional storage as needed.

Stick to Schedules

Does your family adhere to a daily schedule? All too often, our commitments keep us on the go and bending our days to various obligations, rather than staying in good habits and timeframes. While it can be especially tempting to let things slide during the holidays, it is important to establish and maintain a routine, regardless of the season. Kids can draw a sense of security from knowing what to expect every day, and they even handle lifestyle changes better if those changes occur within the structure of a normal routine, such as moving or changing schools.  What’s more, some studies indicate that children’s development hinges on circadian rhythms, so keeping on normal timelines can mean keeping them happier and healthier. Ensure your kids go to bed and wake up at the same time each night and eat meals at set times.

Eat Breakfast Together

Sitting down to breakfast as a family every morning can help set your family up for a successful day. CBS News explains that breakfast is an ideal time for families to convene for a meal since it’s easy to prepare, you can talk about the day ahead, and children generally love all sorts of breakfast foods. On top of all that, eating a nutritious breakfast offers certain health benefits, like helping you maintain a healthy weight. You can even prepare some hearty, make-ahead breakfast casseroles so everyone can sit down together and enjoy the holiday mornings.

Instead of being stressed out this holiday season, ensure your family members can start their days with a solid routine. Stay organized and energized with healthful and smart strategies to keep everyone in sync. The season will be stress-free for you and yours, thanks to your proper planning and some great, healthy choices.

About the writer:
Daniel’s been a single dad to daughter (9) and son (6) for three years now. He admits he doesn’t always know what the heck he’s doing, but that every day is definitely an adventure and a blessing. You can find him over atdadsolo.com

 

Happy Holidays!

Love,

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!

love

Inspiration, Lifestyle, Slider

Shelley Point – Our Magical Anniversary Get-Away

October 16, 2018

Eight years ago I married not only the most amazing husband, but also my best friend and the best human being I know! It hasn’t been an easy road, in fact it’s been really hard many times and I’m pretty sure hard times will keep on coming, but even so I can’t imagine my life without my person and the perfectly imperfect life we’ve built together.

To make those inevitable hard times a little more bearable when they do come around and so we don’t end up killing each other, we try to go away at least every year for our anniversary, just the two of us. It might seem unimportant or a waste of time and money, but it’s the small things that does a marriage the world of good! This year we decided to explore the West Coast and although we’ve been there many times before, there’s always somewhere we haven’t been yet and things we’ve never seen and done. To make this time even more memorable, we have an unspoken rule to never go to the same place. Last year we celebrated our anniversary together with the kids at Flora Bay along the Atlantic Seaboard, and loved it, but decided this year we wanted each other for ourselves again! I believe these times spent alone are pivotal to a relationship, especially after having kids.

I always wanted to go to St. Helena Bay, so we headed to Shelley Point the Saturday after our anniversary. We were lucky to find a room at the Mussel Cracker since we only booked that morning. When we arrived at the bed and breakfast later that afternoon we were met with the most gorgeous beachfront view and the friendliest host ever! Karen was all too happy to show us around her beautiful home and help us settle in before introducing us to the only other couple there, and who happened to get engaged that very day!

Since it was already late afternoon and dark by the time we’ve settled in, we enjoyed a few drinks at the bar downstairs where Karen recommended a nice little place close by we could go to for dinner and where we enjoyed the yummiest steak. Back at the beach house we helped ourselves to a Gin and Tonic from the fully-stocked bar and spent the rest of the night curled up on the porch, chatting under the stars, with the crashing waves our background music. We could not have chosen a more romantic place for our anniversary weekend.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch the sunrise (which we almost missed, mainly because the bed is so freakin comfy, but also Gin!), and strolled along the stretch of gorgeous white, unspoiled beach to the lighthouse where we took some more pictures. I totally fell head over heels in love with the magical Shelley Point. Karen also enthralled us with many lovely tales about the area – Early Spring brings with it the possibility of finding the rare paper nautilus if you’re a keen shell collector, and in Summer you can literally swim with the dolphins and hear the whales mate, which is only the most beautiful sound in the world! We will for sure be back to experience Shelley Point in every season.

 

 

The Mussel Cracker also has family rooms available for up to 4 people max and has been the venue of choice for many weddings!

53 14th St, Shelley Point, St Helena Bay // +27 82 823 0919 // karenc06@gmail.com

Click here to make your booking

 

Love,

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,

 

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.