Pop-Art of a different Kind

It’s that time of year when school is finished and kids are on holiday. The first few days are fun because the alarm clock is on holiday too and there is no need to leap up early in the morning, but if you are anything like me – after a few days you start to get bored.

One way of keeping busy is to make awesome festive decorations using stuff like toilet roll cores, old magazines. Make your own glue too by mixing flour and water into a paste (don’t make it too runny or too thick – experiment).

It’s more fun to get a group of friends together, plus you can pool your resources and share – like paint, glitter and stuff like that.

Make a bowl of popcorn – either on the stove or in the microwave (yes – you can eat some of it). But remember not to put any salt or butter on the popcorn that you are going to use for your decorations. Ask your mom for a needle and some cotton and thread a length of about 60cm of popcorn.  Make sure to knot it properly (or glue it) at both ends so that it does not fall off. You can also spray these with some gold or silver spray paint to make them look even more festive.

Squish the cardboard toilet roll core slightly and cut it into strips of about half a centimetre. Use five strips to make a flower shape and either glue or staple them together at the centre. Paint them and string them up with the popcorn to make a fancy daisy chain.

Paper beads are also fun to make. Roll up a strip of paper (2cm wide x about 7cm long) into a tight thin little tube (use a tooth pick or twig to roll it around) and stick the end down with a dab of glue. Once the glue is dry you can paint your paper beads if necessary.

Other easy and really cheap but effective decorations to make are paper chains. Find an old magazine and cut strips of paper (about 2cm wide x 15cm long). You can either staple or glue them together to make a long chain. Try experimenting by making the strips wider or thinner and see which ones you prefer.

You could make one string of decorations using all of the above methods!

Have fun,

Sibo

Silly Season

No matter how good our intentions are during the year to start buying thoughtful little gifts when you spot them, somehow it never happens.

Even though the shops start sending out tendrils of temptation a few months before Christmas; reminding everybody that it’s just around the corner, dangling tantalizing goodies in obvious places, December always creeps up rather fast.

The reality is most people expect presents at this time of the year.

I was listening to kids talking at school the other day. The one kid was saying that he expected his father would buy him a play station for Christmas.

His friend looked at him strangely and said, “But how? Your father doesn’t have a job at the moment?”

The other kid just shrugged, “He’ll make a plan—he always does. Otherwise Mum knows I’ll sulk.”

What a brat! In our house, we receive gifts on our birthdays. That’s your time to get a fancy present, or something that you really want. Maybe.

When it comes to this time of year, limits are set for presents of R25 or less each.  It may sound completely crazy but it means that people have to put their thinking caps on and get creative. This takes time and planning, which is, after all, the point of a gift. It’s supposed to be thoughtful and meaningful.

For instance, my Gran bakes cookies. She uses recycled packaging attractively and hands out those for gifts. Her mince pies are legend, we all love them.

I usually make vouchers because even R25 is way too much for me. Fancy, decorated ones and I try to make them useful—even if I don’t like what I’m offering to do. Mum absolutely appreciates tea in bed on a Saturday morning. I offer to wash dogs, baby sit hamsters, rake leaves, water plants etc.

Mum makes little gardens in old containers that she jazzes up. She pinches bits of succulents from friends’ houses and collects interesting looking stones and twigs. My cousin makes awesome jewelry. Another cousin makes dream catchers. My auntie makes up interesting sweetie jars. My Dad scours second hand book stores.

Not only do we all end up getting loads of cool stuff, but we also get to see how everybody else appreciates what we’ve taken time to make or find. It works a treat.

Get creative people – the gift is in the giving.

Sibo.

 

Things to Do in December

It’s that silly season time of year when people are busting to go on holiday but it’s not quite time yet.  Some people don’t have the opportunity or finances to go anywhere, and others have no choice but to work. Imagine how hard it must be for cashiers and sales clerks to see everybody stocking up on goodies and they have to work throughout the festive season. Spare a thought for those people please.

The situation currently is being made worse by load-shedding. Yes! It’s frustrating as all hell – but we don’t have to let it get us down.

Now is the time that we can all do a couple of things to make life easier.

  • Smile often and randomly. Never underestimate the power of a smile.
  • Hold the door open for strangers.
  • Say ‘Good Morning” or “Hullo” to people that you pass by.
  • Tip generously.
  • Pay compliments.
  • Call shop assistants by the name on their tag, i.e. “Thank you Sindiwe” and toss in a smile too.
  • Wave at the police.
  • Share food at school or work.
  • Make funny faces at babies in grocery queues to keep them entertained.
  • Be patient with sales clerks—and be nice!

Of course, if you are feeling generous, you can also do cool things like buying a stranger a cup of coffee, or paying for somebody’s groceries/parking ticket etc.

Other ideas… offer to walk dogs, run errands for elderly people and do garden chores like weeding and de-heading flowers.

Once we start thinking about ways to be nice and to do stuff for people, more ideas come flooding in. The strange thing is good things come flooding back too. What goes around comes around.

The other day I was visiting a friend in hospital. We had to walk up nine flights of stairs and just before getting to the ninth floor—my legs were seriously aching—I passed a tired, sad looking lady. Without thinking, I smiled at her and said “Hi”. She carried on walking. Then I heard her stop. I turned around and she was staring at me, also smiling. She bobbed her head, said “Hullo” back, then carried on trudging down the stairs.

Be the light people. It’s not hard and it costs nothing.

It all starts with our own attitude.

Kindness makes the world a better place.

Sibo.

 

Bloody Business

South Africa is currently running out of blood. That sounds crazy–especially when people are walking around full of blood that they could share. Well… maybe not everybody can share their blood because there are conditions prescribed as far as sharing blood goes.  However, it’s seriously scary, because one never knows when you might be in a situation where you need safe blood.

What is “safe blood”?

It’s blood that is free from HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis – these can easily be transmitted through transfusion.

If you are fit and healthy please consider donating – you never know when you yourself might need a blood transfusion.

In South Africa, every unit of blood that is collected goes through stringent testing to ensure that it is safe.

So how much of your precious life blood do they take? Only 480ml. It’s less than 10% of the total blood volume of an adult. Most adults have between 4.5 and 5 litres of blood in their bodies. The lost fluid is replaced in the body within 36 hours. (However, if you weigh less than 50kg you’re not allowed to donate because you don’t actually have enough blood to spare.)

You are, by law, not allowed to give blood more than every 56 days. This means that a person would only give three or four times a year. Not too much to ask really – is it?

In South Africa people between the age of 16 and 65 are allowed to give blood —if they are fit and healthy. There’s a questionnaire that has to be completed, regarding your health and life style. A finger prick test is done to check iron levels before donating. Blood pressure is also checked to make sure that people are actually healthy enough to donate.

Remember – you need to eat and drink enough fluid (not alcohol) before donating.

Or course, if you’ve had flu or have been sick in the last few days you are not allowed to donate because it would be bad for you. Also, if you have been to the dentist or had surgery recently, you could also be excluded. Recent body piercings and tattoos would kick you out of the system too.

Don’t even think about trying to share your blood if you have had malaria—then you have to wait for three whole years before you can donate again.

For more information on giving blood – go to http://www.sanbs.org.za/ .

Give people! It might save lives!

Blood is life.

Sibo.

Dogs are Family Too

Christmas is just around the corner. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, but it will be here before we know it. One of the things that often happens around Christmas time is that animals are dropped off at the SPCA. That is bad enough, but you know some awful people dump their dogs on the side of the road.

I can’t even bear to think about what that poor animal must go through—having their family just open the door, chuck them out and drive off. It’s such despicable behaviour.

Dogs are incredibly loyal, loving creatures. They would literally give their lives to protect their humans, and yet people continue to treat them in horrible ways. You would not lock your child outside, or tie them up in the back yard all day—would you? Why do it to your furry family?

Actually – it’s illegal to have a dog tied up in a yard. If you know of anybody who does this – please call your local SPCA so they can come and investigate.

If you know you are going away this holiday season, make a plan with your animals please.

A nice plan!

If you can’t take them on holiday with you, then book them into the kennels. This does not mean just rocking up at your local place and expecting them to have space for your furry family either. It means you need to book well in advance. If you are like my friend Ginny, then she goes and does a site inspection to make darn sure that her critters are going to be looked after properly.

Of course, kennels cost money, so if you are spending all yours on your holiday, then please make sure that you organise a trustworthy friend of yours to either babysit your house and your animals, or that they pop-in daily, or preferably twice daily, to feed your creatures and check that they have plenty of water. Remember it’s hot around Christmas time. Ideally you’d also like them to spend time talking to and walking your dog.

Trustworthy is the key word here. No point in asking somebody who does not bother to do it. Nor do you want them trashing your house while you are away either.

Your furry kids are not half as demanding as your real ones – all they really want is food and love. Give it to them please.

Sibo

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Weeds and Seeds

You’ve most likely all heard people say “Oh my goodness, you’ve grown like a weed!” meaning that you have grown taller since that person last saw you. Of course, this is really irritating when the last time was about ten years ago, obviously you would have grown up—duh! Adults are always doing this.

I was working in my veggie garden last weekend, trying to get it all neat and tidy for World Food Day on Tuesday  16th October, when I realised that there were lovely little patches of bright green, dark green and in-between green that did not belong there. I was amazed to see that weeds had sprouted, literally overnight, into real plants that required some serious attention.

Most probably the few drops of rain helped them to grow faster too! Not sure what it is about Mother Nature, but rain always makes plants sprout much faster than municipality water does.

We have a composter into which we throw all our veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and stuff from the garden, and so we have been making our own lovely compost. This is great stuff when it comes to growing things, but you do get some surprises too! I’d planted spinach and celery, together with some herbs. Of course I also planted flowers – to make the veggie bed look pretty. Dad said I was crazy and should plant the whole thing with vegetables, but I thought that was a tad boring.

Back to my surprise… up came all these little tomato plants. They had survived the heat in the composter and quickly germinated once they saw sunlight. So we now have some unplanned, fabulous looking, tomatoes too.

I realised that weeds are, in fact, a bit like problems too. You get those skinny little ones that are easy to get rid of with your fingers. Then you get those plants that have roots that look like a carrot on steroids and need the right tools to get rid of them. It certainly does not help to just pull the top leaves off and leave that nasty root behind because it will simply grow again—very quickly too.

To celebrate World Food Day I’m going to share ‘Sibo and the Veggie Bed’ on my website  for anybody to read freely for the next couple of days.

Try growing your own food people!

Sibo

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Friends for Life

Many people suffer from anxiety problems these days. Anxiety is having an irrational fear of something or somebody (not to be confused with nervousness). If you don’t have this disorder, then it’s easy to brush it off and think that the person is being full of nonsense, but in actual fact it’s a very real thing. It can affect every aspect of life—from school, to work, to relationships.

What happens is that something upsets or affects the person and, in a very short period of time, they have an anxiety or panic attack.

These are symptoms of these attacks (normally the person won’t have all of them, but could have at least four):

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Sudden overwhelming fear
  • Trembling
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sense of choking

It is quite scary watching a friend or relation have one of these attacks if you don’t know what to do.

There are ways that you can help. Obviously not to stop them having the panic attack in the first place—that is something that only the person themselves can do—but if you know how to behave around them when it happens, it makes it easier for both of you.

Let them know that it is okay if they leave the place that is causing anxiety. Sometimes being in a crowd can bring on an attack. Just quietly lead them away from all the people, but don’t pressure them in any way.

Let them know that they are safe. Even if it’s perfectly obvious to you that there’s nothing to worry about, it’s a very real fear for the person who is having the attack. Reassure them that there is no real reason to be panicking. Remind them that you are there to help them.

Reassure the person that the attack won’t last long. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are only temporary, but sometimes the person forgets that and so it is good to remind them.

Gently remind them to breathe. People having attacks often gasp alarmingly and forget to breathe! Here’s a good way to do it… tell them to take a deep breath and count to four, exhale again to the count of four. Do this over and over. Breathe with them.

Please do stay with them. Do not leave them alone.

Things you SHOULD NOT DO…

  • Get irritated and yell at them.
  • Ask them why they are panicking.
  • Tell them to calm down.
  • Brush it off and say they are imagining things.
  • Talk rubbish and say “Oh look! There’s a flying tiger!” to try and distract them.

Be a good friend.

Sibo
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Sleep Tight

Last week’s blog was about being prepared for exams. One of the things mentioned was that you need to get enough sleep.

Often sleep is underrated and people tend to think that they can get by with fewer hours. Actually, this isn’t such a smart thing to do.

Between the ages of seven and twelve years old, it is recommended that one gets ten or eleven hours sleep a night. This is not just to stop kids from becoming cranky either—this is why you need enough sleep

  • Muscles repair themselves during the night. Not only arm and leg muscles, this includes the heart muscle too.
  • Sleep controls the signals that indicate when one is hungry or full – and this allows a person to maintain a good weight.
  • Whilst slumbering at night, brains store up all the stuff learnt during the day – so that it can be recalled later, when needed.
  • If one doesn’t sleep properly at night, it’s harder to pay attention at school during the day. Mistakes are made more easily if you’re tired.

If you don’t get enough sleep at night scientists recommend having a little nap during the day to make up the sleep time. Don’t take that nap during school time though—you’d been looking for trouble!

Apparently—it should take about fifteen to twenty minutes to fall asleep from when your head hits the pillow.

Most kids don’t have a problem falling asleep, but if you do there are a couple of things that can help – like having a warm glass of milk before bedtime, or having a bath. Reading a book before you go to sleep is also better than watching television. It’s important not to be too hot or too cold in bed—that can also disturb your sleep patterns.

Of course teenagers can get away with a little less sleep – like eight to nine hours a night. Although often they don’t get anywhere near this amount of sleep and so they really do need to sleep in over the weekends.

Seems like the older you get the less sleep you need. Most people need around eight hours a night to function properly though scientists recently found out that there are some people who have a rare mutated gene condition that allow them to sleep only six hours without any negative effects.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams.

Sibo
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The need to read

The 8th of September is International Literacy Day.

So what? I hear many people say. I don’t have time to read. I can’t be bothered to read. Reading is boring… but actually we read all the time!

We read social media updates, road signs, food labels, and information on goods that we buy. We need to know whether we should wash that new item of clothing in hot water or cold water – right? And for that you need to read the label. Or the instruction manual that comes with your latest gadget.

Or what about recipes?

That’s reading, isn’t it?

Many people stick to magazines, newspapers or read on-line, and that’s all good but…

What about reading for pleasure? To escape reality without going anywhere—you can travel the world, learn about new places, time-travel with science fiction and fantasy, or read sloppy romantic novels where the girl always gets the boy in the end (unlike real life!!). What about mysteries or those scary ‘Who dunnits’?

Okay! So books are not exactly cheap, but you don’t even need to buy them—join the library. Or share with friends, as long as you look after the books and return them in the same condition that you received them in.

If you don’t like reading… at least consider reading to your children!

It has been proven that kids who are read to from a young age have a distinct advantage over those who are not.

Children are naturally inquisitive and love to ask questions – when a parent reads a picture book to their offspring, they are exposing them to different things. They can point at pictures and say “What is that?” or “Who is that”. It encourages youngsters to start thinking and asking questions.

It enhances a child’s vocabulary.

In addition to a better grasp of language, reading assists with spelling too.

We all love a good story, and bed-time reading (in any language) instils a love of books at an early age—something that stays with a person for the rest of their life.

Plus… a bed-time story is a great way to bond with your child. You get to sit on the bed, snuggle with your nice clean kid and read. It’s a fabulous way of having one-on-one time in this overly busy world of ours where there is not always quality time for everybody.

Please read more people!

Sibo

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Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude!

The last in our series of Women’s Month blogs is one about attitude. (Circle of Life, Power posing, Health Tips for Women, With Compliments)

Often we simply look at things the wrong way. It’s so easy to be fed up and miffed with somebody or something and let it spoil our day. It’s also easy to brood and let things fester and before we know it, something relatively little has turned into a great huge monster that discolours life in general.

Not only our lives, but those around us!

Here are a couple of easy methods that will help kick those gloomy habits.

  • Start a gratitude journal.
    It does not have to be a fancy one; get an exercise book and decorate the cover. Write down five things that you’re grateful for every day. This way one starts thinking (and acting) positively, looking for the good in life. It’s a well-known fact that having a positive attitude increases one’s happiness. Let’s face it – it’s hard to be depressed or stressed if you’re a happy-chappy, right?
  • Replace the word ‘have’ with ‘get.
    Sounds crazy but it makes a person see things in a different light. Instead of having to go to school or work, we get to go to school or work. This means we are fortunate to do so – many people don’t have jobs or would love to be able to go to work. Saying “I get to go to school’ means I’m able to learn and get somewhere in life. Even saying I get to go grocery shopping, implies that you have the money to do it, which is great.
  • Walk away from whingy whiny people.
    Folk who complain all the time drag us down too. If you can’t walk away, then don’t agree with them and validate their feelings.
  • Breathe!
    This is an easy one, but requires us to focus on how we do it. Often we find that we tend to stop breathing when concentrating, or we breathe in a shallow manner. Take deep breathes people. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Start with breathing in to the count of five, and breathing out again to the count of five and gradually increase the count. Oxygenating our bodies properly relieves stress, helps with pain and just generally makes one feel better. Try it.

YOU have total control over YOUR thoughts and actions!

It’s a change of mind-set people. Have a happy day!

Sibo

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