Addicted to hula hooping

Hula Hooping is not only fun, but also beneficial on many different levels.

Hi! My name is Ginny and I’m addicted to hula hooping.

The best things about hula hooping is that it doesn’t feel like exercise… and yet it is really the most fabulous way to get a work out without even realising it.

It strengthens core muscles and tones flabby bits – belly, arms and thighs. You can do gentle hooping or notch it up a grade and get serious by adding in lunges and arm exercises. You can use weights too.

It’s beneficial for your heart and your mind.

Don’t be ridiculous, I hear you say. One can barely keep that ridiculous little plastic doo-dah up, let along lunge about or wave you arms around the place—unless it’s to help keep the hoop up.

I’m not talking about your general run-of-the-mill kid’s hoop… I’m talking about a large hoop.

Think big.

Then think bigger.

Even bigger than that!

I was first introduced to large hoops by my tiny daughter when she’d come to visit for a few weeks. It boggled my mind. I’d never seen anything so bizarre, let along considered using one for exercise.

Perhaps I should confess, I’m not a very exercisey person.  The only Jim I’ve ever had a relationship with was my darling, dearly-departed father, but at the age of fifty-something, I fell in love with the gentle art of hula hooping.

Wait… I hear you say… what in all hell is she blathering on about? How can something that tones and firms be gentle?

Easy!

Ten minutes a day and that weight will take a walk.

Once you’ve lost the weight that was bothering you (and you will) you won’t be able to stop hula hooping.  You’ll be addicted.

We are fortunate enough to currently have a large garden and so I walk around the place, gently hooping. Thinking. Planning my day. Writing my novel in my head. Plotting murder. Talking to myself. Or sometimes even just staring into space. It’s currently winter in South Africa so I also hula hoop to warm up.

You don’t need fancy clothes either – I usually hoop in whatever I’m wearing, but if you are going the sweaty exercise route, be comfortable and try not to wear baggy clothing that gets snagged on the hoop.

Buying a kid’s hoop is easy, but it’s not useful. You need a large hoop. The experts say it should come up to your middle when you stand it up in front of you… but mine comes up to my boobs.

The easiest (and cheapest) is to make it yourself.

You need:

  • 4.5 metres of 25 mm irrigation pipe (our local garden shops and hardware stores sell pipe in various sizes, coiled up lengths starting at 5 metres).
  • 1 x 25 mm hose connector
  • tape (insulation tape is the cheapest, but it only comes in standard colours) – get whatever takes your fancy.

Half the fun of having a hoop is decorating it so that every time you pick it up, you look at it with love. (Sounds sappy but it’s true.)

25 mm black irrigation pipe is easily cut with a sharp kitchen.
Cut a length of 4.5 metres.

DO NOT BE DAUNTED BY THE SIZE OF IT and decide to make it smaller. Just don’t.
Okay.
It is really easy to use a big hoop.

Boil the kettle and stick the ends of the pipe into boiling water – makes pushing the hose connector into either end a doddle.

Voila! You have a hoop.

Wipe it down with a wet cloth to get the dust off and let it dry before you tape it up.

Wind your tape as smoothly as you can, this makes the hoop move freely and prevents it from snagging on your clothing. The tape not only makes it look pretty but it also adds weight.  If you find that your hoop gets tatty after time from dropping it on rough surfaces or bashing into things, simply add another layer of tape. (My hoop is currently on its 5th layer of tape.)

There are many videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to hula hoop. This lady is fabulous and has many videos. Remember… you can also do awesome tricks with hoops (not so much the large hoops though.)

I was lucky (I think) and had my daughter to goad me into persevering. Here’s how I really started.

Have to brag – this is a video my daughter, Igz made for me when I organised a hula hoop making workshop as an ice-breaker to a science centre conference a few years ago. We then had a hoop-heats with a hoop-off and the winning three teams had to explain the science behind hula hooping to high school kids. The hoops that were made were then donated to a local school. Except for my friend, Kenneth from Kenya, who took his hoop home to his Science Centre in Kenya and has since taught many a kid to hula hoop.

P.S. I cannot do ANY of this fancy stuff in the video, but it does not stop me from loving the bits I can do.

World Malaria Day

Every two minutes a child dies of Malaria – according to the World Health Organisation.

25th April is World Malaria Day

You might know that Malaria is a complex parasitic disease that is confined mostly to tropical areas and is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. There are an estimated 250 million clinical cases of malaria worldwide, causing nearly a million deaths yearly, mostly of children under 5 years of age and generally in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria-endemic countries are faced with the high cost of prevention and treatment of the disease.

To reduce reliance on potentially harmful compounds currently used for malaria vector control, support is needed for integrated and multi-partnered strategies of vector control and for the continued development of new technologies and strategies as sustainable alternative methods.

Sibo teamed up with the University of Pretoria Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control and the National Department of Health. A story, in our usual Sibo style (wacky rhyme), was written with the objective of trying to help change life-style as far as dealing with mozzies is concerned. 

This book not only explains what the symptoms are but also where to go for treatment and how to avoid getting malaria in the first place.  Students from the University of Pretoria are planning to use the book as part of their projects to see whether it does make any impact or not. By empowering children (and potentially their parents too) through education on how to avoid the hazards of malaria, it is hoped that lifestyle-altering patterns will emerge which could help to lessen the burden of malaria in malaria-endemic areas and potentially assist in the fight towards the elimination of the disease.

This project is being rolled out in the Vhembe district, Limpopo Province. Certain schools have been selected and permission to work within these schools was obtained from the Department of Education and also from the local Chief and the headmen of the villages where the selected schools are situated.

Sibo Fights Malaria, published by Lets Look Publishers, is the 12th title in the Sibo Series.

This title in the Sibo Series was launched at the University of Pretoria on the 24th April 2014 – the day before World Malaria Day.

Join our Facebook event and read Sibo Fights Malaria free on 25th April.

Did you know that mosquitoes breed in stagnant water?

Beady Plastic Waterfall

A fun way to use plastic bottles ~ by Ginny Stone

Ginny made a bead curtain out of old plastic bottles and other stuff.

Rubbish! I can hear you say.

Well… yes! Exactly that. She’s made it from rubbish.

Just so that you know I’m not talking complete bolly – check out this photo. 

You are all probably busting to know just how she used those coke bottles in this bead curtain, right? It’s not that hard – but if you are a small person, please get an adult to help you.

You need the following stuff:

  • plastic bottles (cooldrink, water, etc – try to get different coloured ones)
  • fishing line,
  • beads and other cool stuff to thread or tie on,
  • 2 pieces of 80gm paper,
  • iron,
  • sharp knife,
  • scissors,
  • glue,
  • sharp point (a nail works well).

First things first, wash your plastic bottles very well – you don’t want sticky or oily goo all over everything.

Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the middle of the bottle.  Then using scissors cut the plastic into strips.  It’s easier to work with strips than huge pieces.

Believe it or not – that plastic is sharp, so work carefully.  And be careful not to leave little bits of plastic lying around either for other people to tromp on and cut themselves.

Once you have the plastic cut into the shapes you want – squares, triangles, circles, oblongs – whatever! But don’t make them too small – Ginny used round shapes, a bit smaller than the bottom of a glass.  (Don’t bother to make them perfectly round either – when you get to the next step you’ll see why.)

Next step… again get an adult to help you and for goodness sake – ask your mom first if you can actually use her iron. Ginny has an old one that she uses for fabric painting. (Plus she’s actually the mom – so if she ruins her own iron – toughies hey!)  Although we should point out that it doesn’t ruin the iron – as long as you don’t iron directly on the plastic that is.

Heat up the iron. Not on steam setting though. 

Put one piece of paper on a flat surface. 
Lay your plastic bits on top of it – only one or two at a time. 
Put the other piece of paper on top of the plastic bits.

Iron them flat. 

In fact, you’ll have to experiment a bit and see which way works best for you.  Ginny found if she put them with the curved side on top, they shrivelled into very funny shapes. If she turned them over – they stayed flatter with just the sides curling in.  Either way – she found a use for most of the plastic bits she ironed.

Very important – like we already said, do not iron the plastic without a sheet of paper on either side.

Once you’ve got a whole pile of ironed odd-shaped plastic bits – you can start making your curtain strings.  Be sure to have a long enough piece of fishing line. Put something nice and heavy at the bottom – like a big glass or metal bead or tie on something else interesting – bells or bottle tops also work nicely. 

Make holes in the plastic bits using the nail and thread them onto the fishing line. You can also glue beads onto the plastic – or make lots of holes in larger plastic pieces and thread the beads through.

Go wild, use mirror bits, feathers, old nuts and bolds, pretty beads, old beads, piece of fabric, you can even thread bottle tops, cork and straws.  Just make sure you tie or stick them properly, otherwise, they’ll fall off at some stage. 

Of course, you don’t have to make a curtain either – you can just make a pretty mobile or dangly thing for your room, or for a friend. Or even Christmas decorations.

Main thing to do is have fun in the process.

Feel free to post pics on Sibo’s Facebook page so that the whole world can see how creative you’ve been. 

Sibo’s Colouring in Competition

Fun stuff to do at home instead of watching TV!

This “Coronacation” is all well and good, but it gets a bit boring having to stay at home the whole time, right? You probably never imagined in a million years that you could actually miss going to school.

We are doing our bit to try and alleviate your boredom.

We’ve uploaded colouring-in sheets – Sibo ones.

They are pretty plain, so I’m challenging you all to pimp your page! In particular, the one below!

This is a picture of me and Zona, my dog that I rescued from the SPCA.

The challenge is to download this picture (simply click on this link), print it out and get creative with it. Seriously!

  • Colour it in,
  • Put borders around it,
  • Add in a background,
  • Go crazy!

Then take a photo of your creation and upload it to Sibo’s Facebook page.

While you’re there, you might as well LIKE Sibo’s page too.

Ginny and Uncle Pete the Publisher are going to choose three (3) of the best pictures (different age groups) and those people will win a copy of Sibo Saves a Stray – which is the story of how Zona came to live with us. If the winners live in South Africa, they will get a real book. If they live in another country, then they will receive an eBook.

But kids, please DO NOT colour it in like the picture above! That’s the cover of the book. I want to see something different. Zona can have spots or checks or stripes even.

If your picture does not win, don’t worry! You could always get your Mum to buy you either the eBook from Amazon or a real book from Lets Book Publishers.

Happy colouring-in. Competition ends 30 April 2020 – upload your pics to Facebook before then, please.

Looking forward to seeing your creations.

Love Sibo

xxx

Wizard of Wigwash

A story about a bullied boy, a talking penguin, an abandoned mutt and the magical land of Wigwash.

Ginny has written a new book that has nothing to do with Sibo! It’s called “Wizard of Wigwash – The adventures of Johnny the Penguin”. But she has not written it by herself – she has written it in conjunction with Alastair Kendall, hence the name Kendall Stone on the cover.

You are probably wondering how something like this happens, right? Well, Alastair lives in England and his Dad used to tell him a version of this story. He always wanted to write it down but writing is not really his thing. Ginny had offered her services as a writer on one of those internet sites and that’s where Alastair found her. The story evolved quite a lot during the writing process, and there were several versions before they reached the final one.

If you enjoy adventure with a bit of fantasy mixed into it, you’ll really like this book. It’s also about a boy who is bullied. If you know anybody who is being bullied – here are some ways that you can help.

It’s available from Amazon as both an eBook and print.

The Adventures of Johnny the Penguin is the first titles in the series.

This is what it’s all about…

Imagine being afflicted with an atrocious disease and not even realising that you have it? Ten-year-old Paul Balo has a rare genetic disorder which makes him smell like fish bait. His life is a miserable cycle of being nagged by his family to shower more often and being bullied by his peers. His only friends are a penguin named Johnny that understandably thinks he smells delightful and Polo, a rumbustious mutt, destined for the dog pound. Paul’s camp money has been stolen by bullies and he’s too afraid to tell his parents that he’s not actually going—they are convinced that school camp will be the making of their smelly son. Johnny saves the day by spiriting Paul and Polo off to the magical land of Wigwash for a week of fun instead. Without his parents’ consent of course. But things don’t work out quite as Johnny planned. The innkeeper’s daughter convinces Paul to disobey an order and they inadvertently find themselves in a time when Wizards were evil and life was decidedly tough. Can Johnny save his friend? Will Paul ever see his family again? This is a whimsical story about Wizards, a magical land, courage and… custard!

Christmas in July

Grow your own presents – succulents are easy and rewarding.

The adverts for functions and fairs talking about Christmas in July made me start thinking about presents.

Don’t know about you but I always run out of money at Christmas time. This year, I’ve decided I’m going to make my presents and for the ones I have in mind, now is the time to start.

Imagine gorgeous little succulent gardens.

Succulents are very rewarding and easy to grow. My friend Ginny moved into a house that has loads of succulents. Initially, she wasn’t a fan and silently vowed that she’d replace them all with “proper flowers”. Yet, two years of gardening has taught her to love all the various types. Pinks, reds, purples, greens and each type produces a fabulous flower.

They don’t ask for much water either.

She’s always breaking bits off and sticking them into the ground in a different spot, to see if they change colour. Succulents that are green in the shade suddenly go bright red in the sun. Most of them have a very shallow root system and grow easily from a little bit.

But you can also grow them from a single leaf. This is how you do it.

Gently twist the leaf off (take a bottom leaf so you don’t trash the mother plant). You’ll see that sap oozes from the place on the leaf where it was removed.

Put the leaf on a piece of paper towel on the window sill, or some sunny spot, for a few days until it forms a scab. Wait for that scab, otherwise, the leaf might rot.

Once the leaf has formed the scab place it on top of some soil. Keep the soil moist (not soaking—just moist). After a few weeks, you’ll see that it starts to grow roots. If you leave it, the roots will eventually go down into the soil, but that would also be a good time to plant your baby succulent in a different pot.

Another awesome thing about succulents is that they don’t need much soil. So you can grow a few different varieties in one pot. This looks super cool.

They seem to grow well in old tins—we’ll talk about ways to jazz up tins next week.

Scout around your neighbourhood for different succulents and start a little nursery people. Feel free to send us pictures.

Happy growing!

Sibo

A serious Hottie

A good way to stay warm is to do some exercise. Don’t be a couch potato—go for a cycle, jog, brisk walk, hula hoop or do something else that you enjoy.

Sjoe! It’s become rather cold lately. Of course, I suppose that’s to be expected, seeing as it is now winter, but honestly, I am not a fan of the cold.

A good way to stay warm is to do some exercise. Don’t be a couch potato—go for a cycle, jog, brisk walk, hula hoop or do something else that you enjoy. It takes the sting out of winter.

There is, however, nothing worse than climbing into an ice-cold bed.

My Dad is afraid of electric blankets, he knows somebody whose house burnt down. Seriously, the entire place was raised to the ground. In fact, they were lucky to get out with their lives. So electric blankets are banned in our house.

We’ve had various forms of hot water bottles too. Those electric ones that you plug into a socket and make weird gurgly noises… but they don’t seem to last very long. We’ve had bean-filled ones that you heat up in the microwave. Erk! Those only work if the microwave is super clean. Mum had a proper rubber bottle but somehow she managed to lose the top. She searched and searched but it was gone. I think she threw it away in the bin without thinking, but I’m not brave enough to voice that thought.

We’ve now resorted to the hotties that my Grandmother used to make.

Take a bottle – any kind of bottle will do, but generally, whisky or brandy bottles work a treat because they are quite thick.

Boil the kettle. Very carefully fill the bottle with boiling water—use a funnel if you have shaky hands. If you are little, get a parental agent to do it for you. Boiling water gives one of the nastiest burns, so I’m not kidding when I say be careful! It works well if you put the bottle in the sink and fill it up.

Screw the top on tightly and… here comes the best bit… put the bottle in a long sock. My Gran used to knot the sock at the top so that the bottle could not fall out, but we don’t bother with that.

You’ll find this hot water bottle works like a bomb. If you put it into your bed an hour or so before you go to sleep the bed will be nice and warm. Easy peasy. 

Stay warm peeps!

Sibo

Believe you CAN!

Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Have you noticed that some people go out there, do their thing and it works perfectly? Every. Single. Time. On the odd occasions when it doesn’t, they bounce back and tackle it from a different angle. Everything they do looks effortless.

This is often due to having bags of confidence and high self-esteem.

These are the people who feel secure and know that they can rely on their skills and strengths to handle whatever comes their way. They are ready and able to handle what life throws at them.

They think “I can” instead of “I can’t”.

True confidence is embedded in reality. These people know exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. They don’t pretend to be something that they’re not.

Many people are not so confident, but in actual fact, it’s not that hard to cultivate a sense of confidence. It just requires some work.

  • It all starts with self-belief and building a confident mindset. Start by thinking “I can do that” instead of “Oh no, I can’t possibly do that”. Shake off any self-doubt.
  • Compare yourself kindly. We’re not all good at everything, but we are all good at something or have something that we can be proud of.
  • Make a list of the things that you are good at. Then practise so that you can do them even better.
  • Feel proud of the things that you do well. You don’t have to boast, but you can give yourself a pat on the back.
  • Dress for success, whether you are going to the office or to school, feeling confident in what you are wearing plays a part. Iron that shirt, polish those shoes!
  • Be assertive, not aggressive. Being aggressive turns a person into a bully. Quietly putting your foot down makes you somebody that people sneakily admire.
  • Take a small risk and challenge yourself to do something that’s just beyond your normal comfort zone. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Don’t give up.
  • Give yourself permission to be the ‘real you’. Instead of trying to fit in and be like everybody else, embrace your quirks and let them shine. Be the individual you are.

Remember what wise old Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

At the end of the day, your confidence is your own to develop or undermine.

Stand tall people.

Sibo

Winning Streak!

Sibo’s blog is an international winner!

People! How cool is this? My blog, as in the one that you read in the African Reporter every week (which also runs as a real online blog on my website) is a Global Blog Awards 2019 Winner. Seriously, you could have knocked both me and Ginny over with a feather.

Ginny saw the competition advertised on Facebook in April and entered the blog without really thinking about it too much. Last Monday, she got an email saying that our blog was one of 7 finalists out of the 258 participants that entered the Global Blog award.

The company that runs the blog competition, Ukiyoto, judges blogs not only on the content but the creativity, uniqueness, originality and focus as well. We are honoured, not to mention seriously chuffed, that they thought Sibo’s blog ticked all those boxes.

As part of a winner’s package, Ukiyoto will publish a book of my best blogs—a minimum of 15,000 words. So Ginny better get cracking and pick out the goodies. This book will then be marketed and sold around the world.

Do you have a favourite blog? Remember you can always search for topics. Let us know in the comments if you do.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough she got an email a few days later saying that she’d won another competition. This one was from The Writer’s College (UK, New Zealand and South African based online writing college). She’d submitted 600 words about her best writing tip.

Ginny used The Dog’s Blog as an example—the column she used to write for the Springs Advertiser. Not only is her article placed on their winner’s webpage as great writing advice, but she also won some cold hard cash!

The thing about competitions is, if you don’t enter them, you simply don’t stand a chance of winning. It’s not like playing the Lotto, or taking a raffle ticket, where it’s all up to chance either. It takes some effort to enter a competition, but the end result can be wildly exciting.

There are lots of different competitions out there, not only one for people who write. But if you are a writer, and have a good writing tip up your sleeve, why not visit this link and try your hand in the next ‘best writing advice’ competition.

Go out and make your own good luck people!

Sibo

Pop-up Book Fairs… or unfairs!

Position is everything when it comes to a book fair in a mall.

Last Saturday there was a pop-up book fair at our local mall. Initially, there were about 35 authors who had originally promised the organiser that they’d be there. Sadly, several of them cancelled at the last moment and we ended up with around 15 authors.

To make matters worse, the mall had positioned the book fair near one of the less-used entrances, in a closed off area that was darn near invisible unless you knew it was there and went looking for it.

There was no signage either.

Ginny and the organiser bounced around in the walkway, trying to entice people to at least come and look.

It’s amazing how many people are not interested in books. They’d simply say “No!”

So it’s not surprising our South African reading statistics are terrible. Reading should be done at home too. If kids see their parents reading, they’d be more likely to pick up a book. There was an article on EWN two weeks ago that proclaimed “Nearly half of SA children have never read a book with a parent”.

This is unbelievably sad.

Because our book fair was stashed in a well-hidden nook, it meant there were very few feet traipsing around the tables laden with books and other goodies. Some authors tend to entice readers with cookies and brightly wrapped chocolates. I’m not sure why they do this—Ginny certainly doesn’t—but possibly they think if a potential buyer snags a chocolate they’ll feel obliged to stay a little longer, read the back of a book or two and maybe even buy one.

The authors were not pleased with the lack of customers. Ginny used the quiet time to prowl around the tables and check out the other books. She came across a totally delightful, award winning story called ‘Smelly Cats’ written by a young girl named Stacey Fru. She wrote it when she was only seven. It has charming illustrations and the story is awesome. Stacey, now twelve, has written several more books and, amongst other things, is a motivational speaker. Check her out on Facebook to see just how fabulous she is.

Ginny’s mum bought Smelly Cats as a birthday gift for Isabella—her great grand-daughter (Ginny’s granddaughter) who is turning seven this year. We know her mum will read it to her, and soon she’ll probably be able to read it herself.

Judy Skeggs aka Ginny’s mum chatting to actress Milan Murray, who also writes kids books.

Take time out to read to your children please people.

Sibo