Fairy sized crackers

Last week we made some paper chains using recycled magazines or papers. This week I thought I’d tell you about the cutie little fairy-sized crackers that I had a go at making.

You need a few basic things to make these – but before you start I should mention that they do not actually crack! (Although you can buy the poppers at some art stores if you really want some.)

You need:

  • crepe paper
  • the inner core of a toilet roll
  • glue, sticky tape, scissors, ruler
  • pretty string
  • shiny tape or wrapping paper
  • goodies to put into the cracker – like sweets, little charms, jokes or even vouchers to wash dishes or make cups of tea or coffee.

First you need to modify the toilet roll core.

A normal toilet roll core is 10cm long and 4cm wide. Cut it down the centre and then cut it in half.  Roll one half around your finger and tape it closed. This should give you a baby sized toilet roll core of 5cm long x 2cm wide.

Crepe paper is nice and stretchy and comes in flat rolls in many different colours. You can get lots of crackers out of one roll.

Put your tiny core in the middle (at the bottom) of a rectangle of crepe paper that measures ~15cm x 11cm.

Roll it up and put a bit of glue on the edge to stick it down.

Carefully tie one side up with a piece of pretty string.

Pop the sweet or whatever you are going to use into the core and tie up the other side.

Then you can decorate the middle bit of the cracker with shiny tape or anything you have handy – stickers, pictures, leaves – get your creative hat on.

The crackers can then be used as table decorations for a special meal, or you can hang them on the Christmas tree if you have one. You could even staple one end of the cracker to your paper chain. Or you can simply use them as little presents.

Remember – you can always adapt ideas and make them your own. There is no right or wrong when it comes to being creative.

The main thing is to have fun in the process.

Lots of love,


Festive Decorations

Somehow the festive season always seems so much more jolly when decorations are involved.

Of course, you could tootle off to the shop and spend money on fancy, shiny, plastic, commercial decorations that might, or might not, land up in the bin after all the festivities.

Or you could make your own.

Like paper chains – they are nothing new – but they’re still fun and easy to make.

All you need is… imagination, an old magazine, scissors, a ruler, a glue stick or stapler.

  • Cut the magazine into strips. (~2cm strips are very easy to use and you get a chain of about 60cm long from one page.) If you make the strips 1cm or less, it becomes a little fiddly, but you obviously get many more strips out of a page so your chain is much longer.
  • Cut (or tear) all the strips in half.
  • Make a circle out of the first strip (overlapping the ends) and glue or staple it closed. Stapling is easier but is less environmentally friendly because when the paper breaks down you are left with little bits of metal that hang around for a whole lot longer.
  • Interlock your next piece of paper through the first circle and close it.
  • Keep going until you have a chain long enough to stretch from one side of the room to the other – or however you want to drape it. Better check with your parental agent before you stick things on the walls though.

Get creative and make little bunches of shorter chains to hang at the end of the long chain.

Traditionally chains used to be made out of coloured crepe paper. You can easily still get this paper and it’s not very expensive. Crepe paper has a bit of a stretch to it – so does not break very easily. It also comes in lovely bright colours.

If you are financially challenged though – magazines work just as well. You can even use newspaper!

You could glitz the chains up with a bit of glitter… but I was reading the other day that glitter is also becoming an environmental no-no. It is now classed as a micro-particle – it gets into the water system and does all sorts of nasty things to birds and other little critters.

Next week we’ll make some more decorations so stay tuned!

Have fun and stay safe this holiday.



Making it through December

At Christmas time somehow we never seem to have enough money for everything. Even double cheques and bonuses seem to magically disappear. It is the time of year when the shops are full of goodies and you just feel like spending money.

But of course, if you spend it all in December – then you are in deep trouble in January!

Here are a few ways to help save money this December.

  • Write a list before you go shopping and stick to it.
  • Make your own Christmas presents instead of buying them. Check out Pinterest and other such sites – people are so clever and they come up with really stunning ideas to make gorgeous stuff out of easy to get materials.
  • Eat a good breakfast – this will mean that you don’t spend money on unhealthy snacks during the day.
  • Drink more water – not only is this better for you than drinking cool drinks, but you can refill your bottle from the tap and keep it in the fridge.
  • Invite friends over instead of going out. Get your friends to bring plates of food too.
  • Clean out your cupboards. Don’t just toss the stuff you don’t want – have a garage sale or sell big items on-line. Or you could give something that you no longer use (that is still in good working order) to somebody else and brighten up their day.
  • Swop books, games and DVD’s with your friends instead of buying new ones.
  • Stop smoking. Put the money that you would have spent on cigarettes in a jar for a month and then buy yourself a present – you’ll be shattered at just how much money you will have saved.
  • Don’t carry your credit card around with you – leave it at home for emergencies. That way you won’t be tempted to buy something that you cannot afford.
  • Pack your own sandwiches instead of grabbing something from the shop at lunch time.
  • Check out free events in the newspaper.
  • Keep an “ideas notebook” in your pocket or bag – jot down any good ideas that you get and then you won’t forget them.
  • Grow your own veggies – or at least some of them.
  • Carpool – not only is this great for the environment – it’s a real money saver too.
  • Don’t speed. You’ll save petrol and won’t run the risk of getting speeding fines!

Let’s all make it through December a bit more easily this year.


Science really is fun

It is no secret that I am fond of sciencey stuff. The other day I found out about a programme that is so exciting I just had to share it with you all.

Well – come to think of it – it is particularly aimed at girls.  Sorry boys! This is not really for you. But I suppose there is nothing stopping you checking out the videos of the cool experiments and trying them out yourself.

The programme is called the “I Am Science” project and it combines cool science activities, video and digital learning.  Three things in one project!

Wait! Don’t get discouraged and think it sounds too clever. It’s actually a lot easier than you think.

The whole point of this programme is to get girls interested in science and to change mind-set around the thinking that science is too hard for girls to do.   Did you know that only around 30% of the researchers in the world are women? We seriously need to change those statistics.

Science is not hard and we can do it.

This is how easy it is to participate in this fabulous project.

  • Visit LevelUp http://mylevelup.mobi/ and register.
  • Click the drop down menu on the home page and choose ‘I Am Science’.
  • There you can just watch videos and do quizzes related to the videos. For every right answer you are rewarded with digital tokens which are redeemable on the mobisite for data and airtime.

Ah hah! I saved the best for last… never mentioned the fact that you can win airtime and data if you ace those quizzes. How cool is that?

But even cooler is the fact that you can watch those little (they really are little – not much more than a minute each) videos and then you can go and wow your friends and family by doing a cool experiment YOURSELF – like holding fire in your hand, or poking a sosastie stick through a balloon without it popping – because you will have learnt how to do it (safely of course).

Seriously – I kid you not. Go check it out.  Every week a new quiz is published on the home page of LevelUp so it does not get boring either.

If you want to know more about the whole project – visit the website. https://www.iamscienceproject.com/ . You could maybe even get your school involved and make your own video.

Have fun!


One of a kind

13th of November was World Kindness Day. Yes! There really is such a day. Although honestly I think that every day should be kindness day – just like every day should be earth day.

The world revolves around kindness.

Just think a bit… if somebody smiles at you, or compliments you on something – you feel good. Right? It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and your whole body feels a little lighter and happier. Just because you are feeling good about yourself – you might then smile at somebody else involuntarily because you’re in a good mood. And that might make them smile too.

It’s a chain effect – a good one!

Just the same if someone yells at you and makes you feel bad, you curl up into a little ball, and smart at the injustice of it all. You are far more likely to yell at the dog, shove the cat and be mean to the next person you come across.

That’s also a chain effect – a bad one.

Being kind is a mind-set. It costs nothing and means the world. If you are a boss it can be as simple as thanking somebody (publically preferably – remember – thank in public and scold in private) for a job done. It does not have to be a hard or complicated job either. Being nice to people makes them feel valued and then they want to do more. Being nasty makes people think… why should I bother?

It is crazy when people in charge belittle their staff and then still expect them to perform well. There’s a guy who owns a restaurant near us and he always yells at his waitrons and treats them like dirt. Obviously his staff turn-over is very high yet he still does not get that he, him-self is the problem.

It’s easy to say to say something nasty or demeaning – but it is even easier to say something nice.

And you don’t have to lie – if you don’t think a dress looks good on somebody – you could say you like the colour, or the style or something.

There are numerous ways you can be kind. Lend a helping hand. Give a word of encouragement. Give somebody a letter or a card. Compliment a stranger.  Or just smile at random people – that also does the trick.

Have a nice day.


If a job is worth doing…

Yoh! I got into trouble the other day. It was my turn to wash dishes and I did a rather sloppy job because I wasn’t in the mood for dishwashing. I don’t see why we can’t have a dishwasher like some of my friends have, but mum says we don’t need one and there is no space in the kitchen anyway.

Mum unpacked the washing up rack the next morning and had to rewash most of the dishes. Luckily I was at school and she had calmed down by the time I got home. She was also annoyed with me for piling stuff on the rack higgledy piggledy – so it nearly all came crashing down when she removed one dish.

The first thing she said when I got home was… “Sibo. If a job is worth doing – it is worth doing properly!”

I gave her a hug and said sorry – I’d been trying to save water. She wagged her finger at me and said it was a lame excuse – we did not live in Cape Town and there was enough water in Gauteng to wash dishes properly. As punishment she was making me wash dishes three nights in a row and was going to be doing an inspection every morning. If she found one bit of dirt – she’d dock my pocket money.

Eish – it’s nearly holiday season. I need every bit of pocket money.

According to Google there are rules about washing dishes.

The first thing is to scrape all the left over bits into the bin.  If a pot or dish is really dirty, you may need to soak it first.

The water needs to be nice and hot with dishwashing soap in it. (Duh!)

This is where it gets sticky. Some people say you should wash the flatware (knives and forks etc) first because you put those in your mouth. Others say you should wash the cleanest things first, like glasses – because they don’t muck up the water too much. Then you wash plates and dishes and lastly pots.

Cutlery gets stashed with the handle facing down.

You are also supposed to rinse the soapy water off in clean hot water.  Apparently if your water is the right temperature, the dishes almost dry themselves.

I guess mum was right. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do a good job of it!


Use time wisely

You often hear people saying that they wish they had more time to do something – be it homework, making dinner or spending time with friends doing something fun.

It is the one thing that we cannot change. Those minutes tick by relentlessly, never stopping for a moment.

Seems like when you are a kid the time takes forever to pass, but somehow when you get a bit older it feels as though the time whooshes by. One minute it’s the beginning of the year and suddenly the year is finished and it’s time to look forward to the holiday season again.

I guess we should all think about using our time more wisely.

Sometimes that sounds easier said than done. Exams are looming and studying for them is not really a very attractive prospect. Often you tell yourself you’ll just “do this quickly” and study later. Then suddenly the time has disappeared and you are unprepared.

That old saying – procrastination is the thief of time – might be tired – but it certainly is true.

I’ve decided to try and plan my life a bit better. I’m making lists of the stuff I need to do. I’m putting the important stuff on the list along with some smaller tasks – which are easy to get done. Then I feel great when I see things crossed off and it galvanises me to do more of the things on the list. I reward myself with some play time every so often for being so productive.

I’m really hoping it works because I’m rather good at dawdling!

Talking about time and how valuable it is – it’s really rude to keep somebody waiting.

Often we agree to be somewhere at a certain time and then get there several minutes late. In South Africa it is jokingly referred to as “African Time” but it does not make it right.

It sends the signal that the other person’s time is not important – to you anyway, and it shows a complete lack of respect. Being on time requires proper planning – like being aware and factoring in anything that might crop up causing delays and making one late.

It’s sometimes hard to predict traffic and often one gets to a place way too early and then you have to wait around but it is better than being late. Take a book or something.

Plan carefully people!


Smarty Pants

I read some stuff about being smart the other day – with exams coming  up we could all probably use a little extra smarts!

English is a strange language because “smart” has four different meanings.

It can mean a person is clever and quick in thought or action. For example, Mpho is really smart – she passed all her exams.

It could also mean that a person is well-dressed. For example, Mpho looked really smart in her new outfit.

Another meaning is to feel a sharp, stinging pain. For example, Mpho’s arm smarted for ages after the wasp stung her.

Lastly, it can mean that you feel annoyed or resentful after being insulted. For example, Mpho smarted for the whole of break time after Sandile said she was fat.

We are talking about the first one… here are some ways to help make us smarter.

  • Ask questions. It really is good to ask if we don’t know or understand something.
  • Get some exercise. This is a no-brainer – we know we feel better when we get out into the fresh air and start moving. Cycle, jog, walk briskly, hula hoop…
  • Eat healthy. Crunch apples and carrots instead of chips or sweets for snacks.
  • Keep a journal. It’s good to sit at the end of the day and reflect on all that has happened. It makes your memory work a bit harder too.
  • Learn a new skill. It does not have to be anything fancy – learn to knit, to code, or maybe how to bake – go nuts and try something new. Nothing ventured nothing gained!
  • Hang out with other smart people. This is so true – if we spend time with people who are interesting and interested – we feel smarter too.
  • Challenge your brain. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku’s. Play memory games.
  • Change your routine. Try not to do things the same old boring way every single day – vary the order in which you do things, or eat lunch outside instead of inside. Sit in a different spot at school break. As the saying goes… a change is as good as a holiday.
  • Get enough sleep. Do it! Go to sleep at a decent hour our bodies need time to recover from a busy day.
  • Read more. Join a library or swap books with friends. There are also plenty of eBooks free on the internet that are available to read on cell phones too.

Think smart peeps!



Safe Travels

Since 2005 South Africa has been officially celebrating transport month in October. I thought we’d celebrate buy making not one, but two of my books available to read online.  Both “Sibo Looks Right” and “Sibo on the Move” involve transport. Head on over to my website and click on the links to read either book.

Road safety is such an important topic. Every year thousands of people die on the roads. There are various reasons for this – some really stupid ones like drinking and driving, speeding, talking on a cell phone or texting and often un-roadworthy vehicles are also to blame.

Sadly, often children are fatally involved in accidents and they are totally blameless – just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not like we have control over who we drive with. Wish our parental agents would be a bit more responsible when it comes to taking chances with their children’s lives. We only have one, after all!

But children also have to take ownership of their own lives and make sure that they know the rules of the road and use it responsibly. 

If you are not sure what these are, ask your teacher or an adult. Or you can read all about them in my book. If you can’t be bothered to read the whole book – there’s a list at the back that is easy to read.

“Sibo on the Move” deals with etiquette when using public transport – especially things like the Gautrain system – buses and trains. They have some rules to specifically keep people safe – like standing behind the yellow line when the Gautrain is approaching. Did you know that you should always wait for passengers to get off the train first, before you get on? A thing like putting your feet on the seat is a real no-no too – you would not like to sit on a dirty seat – would you? Sticking chewing gum under the seat is also just revolting. Listening to loud music on your cell phone is rude because it disturbs other passengers. Being kind and considerate on public transport is important.

If you have not already been on the Gautrain – you should make a plan to go on a little trip – like my class did – we went to the National Zoological Gardens for a school outing. It was such fun!

Be safe and take care.


Spider woman

Okay – so this was not the spider – I missed getting a shot of her! Ginny took this.

The other day I heard a terrible yelling coming from Mum’s bedroom. Dropped what I was doing and ran to see what on earth was going on.

She was a quivering, jabbering screeching wreck! I looked at her with big eyes – whatever was the matter?  She pointed at a little splodge on the duvet.

It was a spider. Not a particularly big spider, but not exactly small and sweet looking either. One of those hairy dudes that look like it might want to pounce on a person.

Of course I know that’s complete nonsense – they are a lot more afraid of us than we are of them. Mum was heading off to the kitchen to get the Doom. I stopped her and told her to rather make a cup of tea, sit in the lounge and drink it. I would deal with the spider.

Okay – I am not a big fan of spiders either but I really don’t like killing stuff, so I yanked up my big girl broekies and grovelled out a spider busting kit.

Very simple really – a thin piece of cardboard and a clear plastic bakkie.

First I snuck up and slapped that bowl over the spider. It needs to be clear preferably because then you can see where the spider is (on the bowl or on the surface) when you slide the piece of cardboard carefully under the bowl. There is no point in saving the spider and knocking off a couple of her legs in the process.

Once you have the spider trapped between the cardboard and the bowl, you lift the whole thing up and take the little intruder outside. I like using a plastic bowl because sometimes the spider tends to get a bit friendly and wants to run up your arm when you open up the bowl.  Then you can toss it into the garden and run away shrieking!

Mum thought I was very brave.

Did you know that the 11th of October is International Day of the Girl Child! We get to have our own day – how cool. This is a pretty good time in history to be a girl too. We are encouraged to do anything as far as careers go – the sky is the limit.

Although this is not the case for everybody, in some countries girls and women are severely oppressed. Let’s spare a thought for them please.