Friday, 23 September 2016

Five for Friday edition 18

It's truly been such a busy week - it feels as if the school waited with everything until after the test series and went on and fitted it all into this week.

1. A had a fabulous week at the school's Cultural week. Her lyrical dance troupe achieved one of only four A++ in group dance and are now waiting to find out if they will be one of the few acts performing on the gala night. Her Seashell collection also won an A++ and have already been awarded one of the places on the gala night in the exhibition.

2. We also had house athletics and we are so very proud of our kids that all 3 went out and participated in as many items they could. That is what we want - that they participate and try their best. A did manage to get into the school athletics team for the first time- for discus!

3. We had the wonderful privilege to attend the exclusive pre screening of "The Secret life of Pets". We had so much fun with Nickleodeon and the movie is absolutely fabulous. Do go and see it when it opens at the end of the month.

4. My wonderful mother in law left on Wednesday to go back to Port Elizabeth. We are already missing her - and we had to promise the kids we will see her before Christmas. She has seen to it that I have a whole freezer stocked with meals - enough for every night of the week for at least the next 2 weeks.

5. The swimming season has started at school - and with that 6 am swimming in an unheated pool. I am always amazed that they still emerge smiling and chatting although they are literally blue and cold. The enthusiasm of the youth!

So - what are your 5 for Friday? And I do hop you have a great weekend.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Things to do this weekend

Yes I know I have been very very quiet but life has been rushing along at a HUGE pace. My MIL has been visiting which is always so lovely. She left yesterday with my freezer full and our hearts empty.

This weekend seem to be one that holds many events We are celebrating two very special birthdays on Sunday with a party on Saturday. But there are so many other things happening

On Sunday Market at the Sheds are having their special Spring and Heritage day celebrations(see more about market at the sheds here) - there is a lot going on in the CBD of Pretoria around the market to celebrate Heritage day - see here for Spring in the City

Hazel food market is on every Saturday morning with selected night markets. There are so much to eat and enjoy and the little side market with crafts also has enough to offer.

A's favorite - oysters
Stunning schwarma
Belgian waffles

You can show your support for children with Cancer by visiting the Wall of generosity at Brooklyn Mall. This is a fantastic cause and runs with Cupcakes for Cancer. Go get your cupcake and honour your cancer hero. To find the early warning signs for Childhood cancer - see here.

Not in Pretoria but close enough, the coolest place to be this weekend is the Nerf Bootcamp. Best of all - it's free!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Our little Instagram adventure

A lot of you know that I enjoy to doodle or draw. I have been following some doodle challenges for the last two months - with mixed results. I have even managed to get some of the guys and girls in the office to join in. What has most surprised me is our secretary who at first said that she can not draw and then started and has turned into an excellent budding artist. I am so impressed with her. Our student in the office is incredibly creative and I literally can not wait to see his drawings every day.

So last month we all struggled a bit through another Northern hemisphere challenge - our initial challenge choice has a topic that was not even know in South Africa - Satuday morning cartoons. The other one we chose had camping - which was ok - well sort of. The when we looked at September is was choc a block full of back to school doodles. So we decided that we were going to host our own challenge - with Southern Hemisphere topics and a good sprinkling of South Africa.

We have done our first 14 days (see my page above) and have thoroughly enjoyed it. What has doubled our joy is that we have had 3 Instagramers joining in - and wow, some of the drawings has been amazing. You have to see Cupcakemommy's - she has an amazing talent. Karen at Mom again @ 40 is also doodling along.

I usually doodle in outlines with markers and then colour with pencils - this month I am trying markers to colour in too. I am not quite sure I like them but it does make for bright and happy pages.

So join us if you want to -there is an incredible pleasure in producing something pretty and therapy in the act of drawing . And honestly - anyone can draw! Find me on Instagram as @catjuggles - our handles for this project are:

#rsadoodles #rsadoodlesseptember #rsadoodlesaday

So who are joining in too? You can start any day you want. We are alos planning on doing it monthly going forward and have already started on our October prompts.

In the same line - what do you do that makes you feel happy, creative and calms you? 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

It's Tuesday - and it's time for books.

Hello fellow book lovers - it's Spring and for some I guess the focus shifts to other things than reading. However - a good book is always a winner. I have found myself taking a short lunch time break outside in our office garden over the last two weeks or so, enjoying the great weather and reading a few pages to clear my head from all the work stuff. I am loving the fact that for the first time in many years, I am still on track with my yearly reading challenge. Since my last books post I have read two books:

The Peacock Emporium by Jojo Moyes
 Suzanne Peacock moves back to her old town with her husband Neil - a town where her family still owns the big estate and where the family history runs thick in the memories of the townsfolk. Unhappy to be forced to move out of her beloved and more anonymous London and during a rocky part of her marriage she convinces her husband that she needs to open a shop and agrees that his much wished baby will follow suit.

At the same time she is forced to deal with her mother and the memories others have of her  - the one she never met and am convinced died giving birth to her.

The Peacock Emporium constantly switch in time frames, places and characters a lot like other of Jojo Moyes's earlier books. At first I could not get into it but by a quarter in I actually started enjoying it. Towards the end I found my that I read with a growing unease - which may simply mean that the story moved in directions that may not be within my comfort zone.

I did enjoy reading the book but the story line is tedious at times and the book is possibly much longer that it has to be. What I did love about the books are the wonderful full bodied characters that populate it.

It's one of those "good enough" books if you get what I am saying  - a 6/10 for me.

Moordvis/Dead in the Water by Irna van Zyl

Although I have read the book in Afrikaans I will do my review in English as it is also available translated.

To start of I have to say that this is possibly my most favorite genre to read - and there is a wonderful amount of great books written in it available in Afrikaans with very high standards and great reading to be enjoyed. I therefore read this book with a lot of maybe unfair expectations after good reviews in the press.

Irna van Zyl is a well known Afrikaans media personality and editor. This is her first novel and takes place in Grootbaai (or then Gansbaai) the shark cage diving capital of the world. It features Storm van der Merwe a detective punished after an incident and reduced to admin work. She discovers a body on a walk on the beach with dogs. The storyline develops from there.

The storyline in itself is well constructed and moves at a reasonable pace although at times it felt a bit slow. It is full of the necessary intrigues and complicated cross involvements and makes for a good read. What did bother me though was the characters and development of them - or more then - the lack therof. Storm herself is comes across as cold although I am quite sure that was not the intention.  To me she showed very little development taking into account all that happens and I did not find myself forming a particular attachment to her which I guess is not the worst of it. But Moerdyk - gosh, does every novel in this genre need an alcoholic policeman - as if Bennie Griesel has set that mark as a "has to have"? Moerdyk to me has very little or nothing that sparks even the faintest sympathy and no development whatsoever.

Moordvis or Dead in the Water is a good read but not in my top reads - a 6/10

So what are you reading? Any ones to add to my "to read" list?

Friday, 2 September 2016

Five for Friday edition 17

So how are you doing? The end of the week is in sight.

1. It was the Spring dance for the grade 5-7 last night. A was invited by friend Kr to dress and get ready at her house. Her older sister did these wonderful braid hairstyles for the girls (she is only 14!). They looked so very pretty - but also so very big.

 2. I have not as yet tried tuna mayonaise with the kids. I really do not know why not. On Sunday evening I did health bread toast with it for dinner and it was a hit. They had it during the week or lunch once again and loved it.

3. My mom's orchids are flowering again - every year I am astounded by the beauty of these strings of exotic blooms dangling down from a vase in my house. And yes! It's Spring !!!
4. Have you registered for Santa Shoebox this year? Pledges opened yesterday. I am so happy that with the Voortrekkers we have managed to pledge 61 boxes this year. I just love that Suzelle DIY is supporting them - and showing us how to pack a shoebox.

5. We received a lovely blogdrop from Pediasure this week. At some stage in our lives I am pretty sure L almost lived on the stuff - it was a great help. Now I am looking forward to use it as supplement on days when the kids may have had a lot of exercise and need something more to keep them going. I can definitely recommend it Pediasure

I hope you have a wonderful weekend - what's your 5 for Friday?

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

In a different world, for an hour or two

On Saturday we visited Market @ the Sheds in midtown Pretoria. What a lovely experience! It is so cosmopolitan - not like you imagine Pretoria to be. I have shared many markets in and around Pretoria and even Cape Town before but this one has to be the new "must visit " one around.

Entrance to the Market from Helen Joseph street
As always with markets - pictures speak louder than words - take a look and visit - the next market is on 24 September. There is always live music, and array of wonderful food to choose from, great places to sit and have a craft beer/ smoothie/ cocktail and something to eat. And it has to be the cleanest and neatest market I have ever seen.
Wonderful space of the main shed with the market.
Tables and seats facing the band inside the shed

Yummy mommy has fantastic cakes on offer as well as sweets for the kiddos.
These are so beautiful

Tasty deconstructed cakes
Thise Brownies at the back - best ever!

I would love one of these stunning well made leather bags

You have to go and see this! Absolute brilliance.

L had to buy some biltong - tasters provided

Huge range of risoles

Venison "burgers" and chips

This looked interesting - may try it next time
Feeling Mexican?

A wide variety of cocktails - and there is wine by the glass including good Cape Classique bubbles and my favorite Graham Beck Gorgeous wine

Great coddee at the Urban Barrista

Neat as a pin ablutions
There is a small kiddies area with child minders close to some seating for parents of the tiny ones
This was our favorite space- a stunning courtyard with seating close to the main shed - you can hear the music but have a conversation - just perfect, while you are enjoying the eats and drinks

I was contemplating buying the red one for the next Capital singers ...

A bought a set of earrings for R30 here!
These are stunning and unique
 There is also a big craft beer hall at the top area which early in the morning was still quiet but I am sure fills up later in the day. So if you are in Pretoria or visiting in September do join us! Unique in Pretoria without a doubt.

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music....

I am about 4 or 5 - we are traveling back to Pretoria from Joburg late at night. In my mind I see the exotic costumes of Kismet/ the dancing in the imagined streets of West side story/ keep singing "I feel pretty oh so pretty" from My Fair Lady...

My parents loved musicals and as an only child I had the privilege to attend many of them from a very young age. Later after the State Theater opened in Pretoria in the hay days of the Performing arts councils I saw many more - Hello Dolly, Camelot, Oklahoma - you name it! In later years Hunter and I saw the unforgettable Cats and breathtaking Phantom of the Opera. Of course there are the movies of the musicals that our kids love - Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and Annie are firm favorites.

For me the ultimate musical moment has always been Julie Andrews on top of that Austrian mountain spinning around and singing : " The hills are alive with the sound of music". In my head I have sung it so many times. This weekend I at last got the chance to do it - with 401 other singers, an orchestra, soloist and two of the most inspiring conductors I have ever seen.

It's a tough and busy program over a weekend of music. Solid hours of practice after receiving the sheet music and MP3 to practice on your own. I arrive on Friday night, happy to see familiar faces from school and church - even a family member, but very unsure of how well I know the music and words. I am very nervous about the "Les Misrable" medley which I struggled to learn  on my own. Parts of the "Chess" medley merge into a bundle of notes... all the jumbled intricacies of Queen's music are turning in my head - how on earth did I think I could manage this...

But somehow the moment you hear the orchestra and the other voices join things seem to fall into place. By coffee break I feel a bit more sure of myself. By the end of Friday night's rehearsal I am not so sure about all this any more - we struggled through some of the pieces. But we get homework - to watch and listen to some originals of the works on You Tube. That night in my bed "Les Mis" comes together for me. On Saturday morning it is as if things simply fell together over night for the whole group - and suddenly I think, just maybe , this will be great. This could be magic.

On Saturday afternoon we have our first performance. All dressed in our concert blacks with a touch of red we are ready, and I am nervous. After the Cats overture by the Orchestra we launched into Phantom of the Opera. The sound is huge - an orchestra, organ and 402 voices. After all that practice at home and over the weekend it indeed feels like magic. In my mind and in my voice I am Sandy in Grease, Grizabella singing Memory in Cats - Elaine Paige has nothing on us when we sing "I know him so well". Our voices soar to the sky when we sing "You'll never walk alone" and we put our common hats on for "Les Miserables" and cheer to the Master of the House. Proudly South African we sing  from" Ipi Tombi " and "Ons vir jou Suid Afrika". The medley from Mama Mia has us all acting and singing like "Dancing Queens" and we tackle the unforgettable music of Queen from their musical "We will rock you" . We are inspired by solos from the beautiful Magdaleen Minaar that sings with us and I get goosebumps every time I hear two guitars and a violin play "Somewhere over the rainbow"

And briefly for 3 performances I was Maria on top of that mountain singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music..." followed by the song I chose when the original call for suggestions went out - "Climb every mountain". An unforgettable experience of song, soul and friendship. In my heart (and sometimes even physically) I keep singing:

The hills are alive with the sound of music
with songs they have sung for a thousand years.
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing ev-'ry song it hears"

 The Capital Singers is a mass choir initiative by Boabab Music that functions as a project choir. This was the first time I took part in it and I have already registered for the next one. It was mere chance - or maybe Kismet, that the first project I took part in was one featuring musicals.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tuesday Booksday

I have been thinking about reading and writing - the more I think about it the more I am leaning towards thinking that writers, even if just bloggers, are in general readers too - it seems to go hand in hand. Or what do you think?

I have read 3 great books over the last few weeks apart from the rather large batch of Afrikaans books I reviewed 2 weeks ago. Not all of them are everyone's taste but I do think there is something for all in this batch.

The Husbands Secret - Liane Moriarty

 Cecilia Fitzpatrick has her life sorted - a successful Tupperware business, a household that runs like clockwork, 3 adorable daughters and top school mom. Then she discovers an envelope with the words "For my wife - to be opened only in the event of my death".

Tess lives a seemingly very happy life with her husband, son and cousin and business partner. Her life falls apart in a few sentences and she decides to move to Sydney and her mom with her son.

Rachel's life is centered around her grandson after her daughter passed away as a teen. Then her life gets turned upside down when her son and daughter in law informs her that they are moving to New York.

At first one is unclear as to how these 3 very different woman's lives interact with each other apart from sharing a school and geographical location. As the story progress the connecting points and interwoven fabric becomes more clear.

The characters are beautifully depicted and the development in the book is very clear and defined. Moriarty writes with such understanding and sympathy that  makes the great story line even more enjoyable.

I absolutely loved this book and found it an outstanding read. I will without a doubt find Liane Moriarty's other books and read them too. A must read for all. 9/10 

Broken Monsters - Lauren Beukes
This crime -noir (by lack of other genre description) novel by South African author Lauren Beukes takes place in Detroit - a city marked by dread,  darkness and depopulation - and mostly despair. The whole atmosphere of the book is marked by it's setting.

Detective Gabi Versado is tasked with capturing the quickly named "Detroit Monster" after the discovery of a half boy half fawn body. Her teenage daughter Layla is on the verge of danger while playing a dark game with an online predator and dealing with her best friend's impulsive behaviour. There are plenty other characters and subplots exploring everything from homelessness to online journalism and bullying.

Broken Monsters is a very dark crime thriller bordering in places on the unexplained and unknown world. It is a very unsettling book that is without a doubt not for all. But it is a very well written book and if this is your type of read I will surely recommend it. Not for sensitive readers. 8/10

Recipes for Love and Murder - A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew

Now and again one reads a book that totally absorbs you into it. You can smell, see and even taste it while reading the book. You wish that you can step into the world of the book that is so well portrayed. You can even hear the characters and the tone of their voices.

Recipes for Love and Murder is exactly this type of book. I fell in love with the story and characters right from the first page. Wonderful characters populate it each with their own motives and thinking. Typical small Karoo town it takes all kinds of folks to make it as colourful as it is.

Tannie Maria is the local paper's agony aunt (and recipe dispenser, cook of note and amateur detective). She makes a great if hard headed team with Jessie her fellow Karoo Gazette journalist. She is also cast from the same formidable African woman mold as Mma Ramotswe - not only in stature but also in good rational and clear thinking.  I can picture the two of them sharing a cup of Rooibos tea and some cake on Tannie Maria's stoep or under Mma Ramotswe's big tree . In fact I would love to be Tannie Maria's best friend.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will asap buy the second Tannie Maria Mystery. A book that provides you with the wonderful recipes cooked in it is in any event a winner. And a book that had me buying vetkoek and making mince on a Saturday afternoon because I have been craving it since I read a chapter in it 3 days ago is a winner for sure. A 10/10 for a fabulous easy and hugely entertaining read. My must read recommendation of the moment.

So what are you reading? Are you going to read any of these?