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

xxxx

 

Circle of Life

Hah! You didn’t really think you were going to get away without a blog on exercise during women’s month… did you? (No! Power posing does not count as exercise.)

Whilst smiling and complimenting might exercise your soul (as well as those of other people) and laughing might be great for your belly and face, it is important to stay fit.

Exercising releases those endorphins that make you feel happy and lessen the perception of pain. Apparently it does not matter how long you exercise for to release those hormones – the effect is the same, whether you go for an hour long jog or jog on the spot for ten minutes.

If cycling, jogging or gym is your thing – then great – you don’t have to read any further. However, if you are one of those ladies who groan at the thought of doing some physical activity – then this is for you.

Hula hoop people!

It’s the most awesome activity that the whole family can do.

It strengthens core muscles and improves posture no end, in addition to shaving centimetres off the squidgy bits of body and defining leg muscles.

Kids can happily use the normal hula hoops that you find easily in shops.

But ladies… here’s the good part – you can make your own, extra-large hula hoop, very cheaply!

Toddle off to the local hardware store (or nursery) and buy five metres of 25mm black piping. Yup – the stuff that gets used in the garden or irrigation. At the same time, get a 25mm connector and some insulation tape.

Lay the piping down in the sun for an hour or so to soften it slightly. Then chop off approximately 50cm from either end.

Boil the kettle, pour some boiling water into a mug and quickly dip each end of the piping into the water, then plug them together with the connector whilst the plastic is still soft.

Voila! You have a huge hoop.

You are probably going to look at it and gasp… NO WAYS CAN I USE THAT THING!!

But try it. Go on. Try. You’ll see that hula hooping with an enormous hoop is much easier than one of those small ones.

Taping it up to look pretty is optional. It does make it a little heavier, which is even better for losing weight.

Whilst you are hooping, you can do arm exercises to further tone up.

Or mediate and plan your day.

Let’s all BE who we ARE ladies.

Sibo

xxxx

Pop-Up Book Fair

Last Saturday Ginny and I got to do some exciting stuff. We went to an Indie Pop-up Book Fair at the Alklantrant Library in Pretoria. Ahem… I’m not exactly an indie girl myself, because my Sibo Series are published by Lets Look Publishers, but Ginny writes other stuff (Dog’s blogs, Imaginaeries and The Kindness Book)  that she does publish herself, so she asked if she could take me along too.

It was such fun meeting all the other people who write South African children’s books. There was quite a selection. One young lady, Pamela Ngubeni, has written a little pocket-sized book about being bullied and what to do if you are. She herself was bullied when she was younger and she has risen above the situation and gives talks in schools now too.

A fabulous book by Soraya Hendricks, called ‘The Legend of the Gilded Scroll’, covers the topic of stranger danger. It’s an awesomely illustrated fantasy story that incorporates the topic in an exciting manner.

There were the Sir Chocolate  stories for kids (that include recipes) by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.

and a series of Akiki books by Fatuma Abdulla that had a lovely doll (from the illustrations) that was also for sale.

Yet another remarkable book called ‘Be Amazing’ by Doloros Oldjohn, was all about being different, making a difference, having respect, going the extra step and being nice whilst you go about it.

‘Liam goes to the game reserve’ – written by Christina van Straaten is a delightful story that introduces wild animals in their natural habitats to children. It’s a hardboard book – durable and easy to keep clean and great for small kids.

Cora Groenewald, author of Salome and Gogo visit Soweto (also available in Afrikaans) was there too.

If you like adventure novels with a twist then Everdeen Brickwood’s books are for you.

There’s a series by Jann Wereatunga that involves a pirate parrot called Polly (also a puppet) having all sorts of adventures (with life lessons), where you can use your imagination and draw your own pictures in the books, instead of the books having ready-made illustrations.

Sandy van Zyl has a series of beautifully illustrated books ‘The Travel Buggz’ that are based on the adventures of the author and her two children when they went travelling around South Africa.

Martie van der Walt, a first time author had her stand next to ours with a delightful Afrikaans book -‘Kiekie en Wiekie, Die avonture van twee kroonkiewiete’. These were stories told to her by her father, that she has recorded so that the tradition can live on for future generations. The illustrations in the book were just lovely.

The lady who organised the pop-up book fair, Sabine Lehmacher (JOE), has a book called ‘The Moonling’. It’s a story that she found when she was sorting out her late mother’s possessions. Her mom had written it in the 1950’s already. Sabine’s family members have spruced it up and illustrated it and it’s now a fabulously relevant book (involving a moonling and an earthling) instead of being a few bits of papers hidden away.

Ginny’s stand was obviously in the kids section, but she stole away and snuck downstairs to the adult section for a few minutes – and got bust when Uncle Pete and Sharon from Lets Look Publishers popped in to visit!

Ginny and Peter Sanderson from Lets Look Publishers

There were not only children’s books at the book fair, but all sorts of other interesting titles – poetry, novels, science fiction, horror and autobiographies too. To name a few, Karen Coomber has written ‘100 Minutes of Grace‘ – a book about a mother’s road to recovery (she tragically lost her daughter in an accident). Whilst there were many books that took her fancy, she ended up buying Adam Alexander’s ‘Garage Band’, which she has yet to read.

A couple of interesting talks were also thrown in for good measure.

There’s going to be another pop-up book fair in September, so if there’s anybody out there who has published a book(s) – shout and we can put you in contact with Sabine.

Thanks very much to the Alklantrant Library for hosting the pop-up book fair (to make it worth their while – 10% of all the proceeds of the books sold went to the library).

Read more people!

Sibo

xxxx

Tie-dying fun

Its school holidays and sometimes one gets bored – especially when it’s cold.

Assuming you have no desire to read a book (I never give up – do I?)— what about having some fun tie-dying a piece of clothing… or even your socks (cotton ones work best). Although please check with your parental agent first though, before you start adding colour to your wardrobe.

This is what you need:

  • Fabric paint
  • Elastic bands (you can use loom bands – they are cheap and work a treat)
  • Water
  • Old plastic containers
  • Black bag
  • Rubber gloves (or small plastic bags to put over your hands)
  • Paint brush
  • Old white or light-coloured t-shirt
  • Imagination

These days you get Dala fabric paints that actually come in little spray bottles. They make life super easy because you don’t really even need to mix paint in containers with water or extender.

Imagine you want to breathe some life back into an old grungy t-shirt.

First thing you do is make a little peak and wrap a rubber band around the bottom of it. Do many of these all over your garment (including the sleeves) so it looks a bit like a fabric hedgehog.

Put on your gloves, spread out the black bag (or any big sheet of plastic) somewhere where you won’t get into trouble for messing and lay your t-shirt on top of it.  If you’ve got the Dala fabric spray paints, go wild and spray colour all over your t-shirt.  Make sure you do both sides – you can always mop up any excess paint that you’ve sprayed on the black bag too.

If you have jars of fabric paint – put two teaspoons (make sure you wash the spoon immediately or use a plastic spoon) of paint into about half a cup of water, mix it up well and then use your paintbrush to slosh the paint onto your t-shirt.  Two or three colours works best, but one colour will still look cool because it will contrast with the original colour of the T-shirt.

Please ensure you don’t work on a carpet – fabric paint stains. Food colouring is even messier but can be used in lieu of paint. This is why you must cover your surface with plastic.

Hang your T-shirt on the line and wait until it is properly dry before you take the rubber bands off.

Iron it to set the dye – otherwise it will wash out.

Have fun!

Sibo

xxxx

Growing things

Last time we talked about sniffing and growing Rosemary. At the moment, a certain supermarket is onto a really cool thing – giving out little pots of flowers or veggies with every purchase over R150. I know many kids are hounding their parents to go shopping there to increase their collection, but fear not if you don’t get it right.

You can easily grow your own veggies without any fancy little pots.

All you need are egg boxes, seeds and soil (seedling soil really works the best – but it’s not completely necessary).

Get a group of kids together and share resources. One bag of seedling soil goes a really long way. If you don’t have any money for seeds, ask friends who have gardens if they have any to spare. Marigolds grow very quickly from the seeds that you can harvest from a dead flower. So do lots of other things – like tomatoes.

Simply fill the egg boxes with soil – poke a little hole in the middle – about 1cm deep and plant a seed (or two). Cover the hole up with a bit of soil. Water gently and put them on a windowsill or somewhere light. They don’t like direct sunlight too much because then they dry out.

Make sure that you keep them moist – if the soil gets dry your teensy babies will never sprout.

The time it takes to sprout depends on what seeds you have planted. Some spout much quicker than others – for instance, Sweet Alyssum starts sprouting in about 3 days but onions take around 10 – 15 days to poke their little green shoots out into the world.

Once they do start sprouting, plant the whole egg box in the ground. Or you can carefully cut the little sections apart and scatter them around your garden or into pots. The egg box material is biodegradable. Just (obviously) make sure you do not use plastic egg boxes!

You can even have fun making your own artistic signs out of ice-cream sticks or bits of cardboard box so that you know which seeds are which.

Consider having a race with your friends and see whose seeds sprout first.

By the way – if you want to know how to make a veggie bed the size of a door – my book – Sibo and the Veggie Bed (check out the cover above) is available this month as a free read on the website.

Explore your green-fingered side guys!

Have fun.

Sibo

Xx

Easter egg hunt and fluffy chicks.

The other day Mum and I were visiting a friend of hers who’s having a bit of a hard time at the moment. Her husband has lost his job and finances are challenged. Aunty Landiwe was moaning about how her kids were not going to understand that they would not be getting fancy Easter Eggs this year.

I looked at her kids – they are only little – how on earth would they possibly know what day it is – let alone that they’re not getting the same stuff that they got last year?

Mum’s friend was sighing and looking really sad.

I had a bright idea.

I asked Aunty Landiwe if she had enough money for some of those cheapie, yet still very delicious, marshmallow eggs that you get. Not a whole box – just a few strings – it would not cost her more than R20.

Mum looked crossly at me. I knew just what she was thinking… Sibo! Keep your mouth shut – you are not supposed to be chipping in on this conversation.

Luckily Aunty Landiwe knows me quite well.

“What are you scheming now Sibo?” she asked.

Told her that I was thinking of an Easter Egg hunt – where she could hide the eggs in the garden and the kids could look for them. It would be much more fun than just being handed chocolate on a plate, so to speak.

Plus… I reminded her… “You are very arty. What about recycling your breakfast eggshells into some fancily painted Easter decorations? You could  get your children to help. I know you’ve got lots of paints and stuff. You could  get the littlies to make their own eggs – even though they are small – give them hard-boiled eggs to paint. They can eat them afterwards.

I was on a roll… “And that little yellow jersey you knitted last year… do you have any wool left? We could make pompoms and make fluffy Easter chicks! I watched a really easy video the other day. It’s not about how much stuff you get – it’s about quality time spent with your kids and how much fun you have rather.”

Aunty Landiwe grinned for the first time that afternoon.

“Sibo” she said “How did you get to be so clever for such a little person? Those are all great ideas. I do indeed have wool left – do you want to come and help me make some chicks?”

I looked at Mum to see if she agreed… she smiled and nodded.

Have a blessed Easter people.

Sibo

Xx

PS – If you make some of these cute chicks – please feel free to post some pics on our Facebook page – we’d love to see them. This is the one that Ginny made.

 

The Happiness Jar

Happy 2018 everybody!

Here’s wishing that it is going to be a glorious year for us all on many different levels. Hope you had a good holiday and are ready to get stuck into the New Year.

I saw a really cool idea the other day and thought it was just too fabulous not to share.

It’s called a “Happiness Jar” and is really very easy to make.

All you need…

  • Jar, tin or a nicely washed out 2 litre plastic cool drink bottle
  • pile of paper
  • pen, pencil or anything to write with.

You can re-use old envelopes, the back of till slips or simply tear or cut some A4 pieces of paper up into 8 (or even 16) pieces and keep a pile handy next to your jar.

This is how it works… write down something that made you happy each day and pop it into the jar.

It could be something simple like seeing a pretty flower or a cute furry creature. Time spent with a buddy or a nice chat to a friend on the phone. Maybe wearing some article of clothing that made you feel good or a place that you visited and did fun stuff. It could be something that happened at school or work. Good grades, a kind word, praise, promotion – or a job well done.

Or something you read that made you happy.

Anything and everything that puts a smile on your face or makes your heart sing…  write it down and pop it in the jar.

At the end of the year (okay – if a year seems too long, try it for a week or a month) you take out all the notes and read them. You’ll remember all the little things that made you happy (that you have probably long since forgotten) and realise that life really is pretty good.

Of course don’t forget to make other people happy too.

Smile, be kind, pay things forward. Do random deeds of kindness. Be nice. You never know when a simple thing like smiling at somebody or paying a compliment adds sunshine to a dark day.

Too often it is easier to moan, groan and complain about life around us and forget about all the little things that really do make life worth living.

Let’s start 2018 off by being happy.

Lots of love

Sibo.

 

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,

Sibo.

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.

Sibo