Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Pretorias' best kept ice cream cake secret

This year I initially planned to just make cupcakes for the boys' birthday party. I will tell you more about the party later but it boiled down to getting home after the activity and having a quick candles to blow out and the guests then leaving for home. However we tried to keep things simple and easy this year (and honestly it was) so I looked into buying cupcakes in stead of baking them. Then we had a heatwave and the boys asked for ice cream after the party and the idea of an ice cream cake was born.

I have only once before had an ice cream cake for a party - for A's third when the boys were tiny little 3 month olds. I then bought it from a well known chain retailer. When I looked into doing that again I realized they had no more shops in Pretoria - yes there was one in Centurion and one in Montana but that sort of defies keeping things simple - to drive far on Saturday morning to get a cake. So I asked on Facebook and a place in the far east of Pretoria was mentioned over and over. Then a mom from school called me to say that Royal Danish - they of the wonderful hand made exquisite ice cream - make birthday cakes that will not break the bank. And they are an easy 10 minute drive from home.

The long and the short is that I went there, tasted and tasted and in conjunction with the boys decided on a Peppermint crisp and Bar one ice cream cake. I emailed an image which they printed on rice paper and put on top of the cake.  (I blacked out the boys' real names) They piping around is made of white chocolate. For R250 for a round 28cm cake! Excellent price.
I find it hard to describe the awesomeness of this cake (or their ice cream in total actually). The Peppermint crisp layer apart from being flavoured as Peppermint crisp had realy bits of it and plenty of it too. The same with the Bar one layer. You can actually see the bits of yummy on the picture below.
I love that we supported a small local business. And what I love most is that not a tiny bit was left of the cake - all enjoyed and eaten. No waste like those half plates of cake you find lying around after parties or half a cake not eaten. I dished the ice cream in cones and some kids had 3! Every single parent that picked up a kid had some and maybe second. It was a huge hit and by far the tastiest cake we have ever had for a birthday.

You can find them on Facebook or give Karensa or Wikus a call on 012 430 5719.

(Disclaimer - they have no idea that I am writing this and we payed and ordered our cake like any other customer. This is part of my "public service announcements" where I love to give a shoutout to good service or products.)

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Fourth term silly season

Yes, it's that time of the year. Where you actually do not know how to turn around and get everywhere to attend to all the things that need attending to. This year we add exams to the mix. I had to nod my head and give my two cents of advice this morning when Robyn posted on Facebook that she has two events for two kids at the same time and no idea how to get to both. Last night A made a decision to drop one non essential item this Saturday and rather go horse riding. Usually I would have tried to manage both - my hubby as per usual was the voice of sanity that made the suggestion. Somehow this year my stress levels are not out of range (as yet) and I hope to keep it that way. I seem to just feel more calm about things. In fact - I promptly passed on a task for an end of year function this Friday on to another mom where usually I would have just done it. So I will arrive on Friday night with our troupes' table beautifully done by another mom without thinking about how I would have done it. I would like to think that just maybe I am learning to let things go a bit.

So through this all with a smile and sanity in tact, over the weekend we did the following:

Had a birthday party for the boys (a month late but a great one) at Bounce Inc. But more about the party and related things later.

On Friday afternoon A swam a gala for the school. I still get excited every time she is asked because we have such an over supply in great swimmers in her age. Her swimming has improved so much. We are extremely proud of her. It was a great moment to see her start her leg of a relay with their team in third place (the first swimmer had a bad start) and see her gaining ground for her team. Eventually they came second in the breast stroke relay race as each swimmer following steadily gained meters. They were ecstatic to win the freestyle relay.
 We watched the semifinal of the World cup rugby after their party and felt sad for the Springboks that played so well.

We build LEGO because what is a birthday without LEGO and it worked out so well - both boys got one set of LEGO and money. They are planning to buy tablets like theirs sisters'. They both seem to love the Creator series.
L made this dragon - the same set can also make two other animals if you break down the dragon

C made this parrot - also with two alternatives to try later.
 We assembled a project about the sea shells of Southern Africa - a collectors project for a badge for the Voortrekkers for A. It was so easy as she has been collecting shells all her life and they were mostly cleaned before. She also did most of the sorting and planning in the July holidays and we just had to add her latest finds from the October holidays. Tonight she will add the printed captions to the shells and tomorrow present it.

 We dropped by the Hasbo My Little Pony and Nerf guns event in Menlyn park . A enjoyed all the ponies - you are never too old for My Little Pony. They had all the prettiest and newest ponies there. But the guns were the real hit with all 3 of them. In fact Sunday afternoon saw some grown ups playing with a Nerf gun. Not mentioning any names here. They are truly amazing guns and seem sturdy and well designed.
 And yesterday A had her grade 4 solo performance RAD ballet exam. I have never seen her so calm and happy before and exam. I guess they learn to handle stress as we go along. To think that for this one they danced on their own in stead of with a group this is quite amazing.

So how is silly season treating you this year?

( Disclaimer - we were invited as VIP guests to the Hasbo event and received a great goodie bag. Those guns are however amazing toys.)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Drama drama

The photo is of no relevance apart from it being taken at the theatre they performed at yesterday.
Our kids do a lot of extra mural activities and sometimes this can add a bit of stress and a lot of planning to your week. But we do believe that each of these add in some way to their development as well rounded adults.

Yesterday A participated in her second drama Eisteddfod of the year - this time for unprepared drama. They did great and she has for the first year ever and amazing run of all A++ for the year. They did two items yesterday - one a mini drama scene as they have done in the previous years and one of theatre sport - an item I have never seen before yesterday. They can only do this item from grade 4 onward.

In the mini scene they get a scenario and story, 15 minutes to prepare unaided by their teacher , find their own props from a shelve of available props and go on the stage. This to me is already daunting. Theatre sport is so much more! Get this: they go on stage, get direction from a judge how to arrange the stage and are then fed the beginning of the story which they start to act on immediately. Then the judge will interrupt and give a twist which they execute immediately - and so it goes on until the story reach and end. I was totally astounded once again by my daughter and her friends' courage and self confidence to do this in front of a crowd of people. The judge commended their confidence and courage too.  I would never be able to do this- even now at my age, never mind as a kid. To think we started her with drama to gain self confidence.... Why I do not think drama is for everyone (I can not see my boys really enjoying it for instance) there are so many positives if this is for your child.

So if you ever wondered if you should let your child do drama - here are some of the benefits we have seen:
1. Self confidence - some kids have it, some not. If benefits both types. It is so important in this day and age.
2. Clear speech and voice control. This has benefits way beyond drama right to adulthood. It has never hurt anyone to be well spoken in a business situation.
3. Thinking on your feet - I have many times had to think fast when presenting to a client . This is an excellent skill to have.
4.  Improvisation - connected to the above but not 100% the same. Improvisation goes further than just talking or acting - it is basic problem solution on the run.
5. Creativity - the girls scored very high yesterday on creativity - you have to think creative to make a story play out more interesting than the next group that gets exactly the same story. You create characters and fill them out. Creativity is key to success in my opinion. In almost any work situation creativity can save the day.

So is anybody planning to let their kids do drama or are they doing it already?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Happy things on the interwebz

With so much going on - and riots that frankly has me a tad scared (our schools' one gala and big super 12 athletics have been called off due to it being close to a university) one has to grab the things that make you happy on your social media feed. So let me share 3:

Check out the video on Facebook of Little Kabelo playing - it's the cutest thing ever! Rhino orphanage

Have you seen this one of the Baluga whale that scares the kids? It is without a doubt playing with them. Totally adorable

And possibly the best of all - Barbie has a new advert out that may just redeem her for everything you may not like about her (we however have always been Barbie fans). "Lift your knees like a unicorn! "Love it totally! As well as "There's no high school for the dog"
And with that smile on your face - here's another bit of happy for Pretoria peeps and the Joburg ones that are willing to come to behind the Boerewors curtian:

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

We met a chameleon this weekend...

And a Rhino beetle
We were awaken by unusual sounds - a cock crowing
and the calming sound of sheep walking to the pastures.
We build our own fire and cooked and egg with only dirty water, a tin and 3 matches supplied. Some eggs were cooked - others landed raw on heads.
We made a compass out of a leaf, pin, magnet, plastic bowl and water....
We build a nest for an egg with newspaper and sent it flying off a tower with a refuse bag parachute.
Some eggs landed in tact - others did not.
 We hiked up a hill to an old reservoir
 and swam in a muddy farm dam.
We saw the most spectacular sunsets
We socialized with friends, learned to be independent and had so much fun!

As for mom, she kept an eye from a distance, was the official camp photographer and helped out with activities. It was great to see my kids interact with their friends. I loved how especially the boys gained confidence in doing things on their own. It was a great weekend with the Voortrekkers.
(I really do not know how to explain what the Voortrekkers is to the non Saffers - but the best I can compare it to is the Scouts with a cultural angle)

Friday, 16 October 2015

Every year our city falls under a purple spell

Every morning and afternoon I drive to work through purple streets. It's October - the month that Pretoria explodes in colour and beauty. The month you dodge Japanese tourists taking photos in the middle of the streets and the month you need to take hay fever meds and the bees seem to triple in number. It is however a daily treat that I can not resist capturing. And have to blog every single year! Enjoy the beauty.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

I love summer...

By now I think you all know I do. Yes, we have had an extreme and early heat wave this year and even I complained about the heat. But it's still nothing for me compared to the cold in winter. With summer comes yummy fruit, ice cream and swimming. And yes, swimming costumes. Sigh!

I have written before about buying a swimming costume (read here please). But the last few years have been slightly easier for me since I discovered Woolworths' range of "magic shaping" swimming costumes. On our quick trip to PE I arrived with no swimming costume - I just could not find my one and only proper one. (I did find it later where I forgot it at family) So in a rush on our first morning there I jogged into Woollies and fitted 6 of which I just as well could have bought any or all of them. They all fit well. I just love that!

The one I bought
The last 3 years however I have had more swimsuit woes than mine - I've also had the Princess' . She is very tall and very thin and the sport type swimming costumes fit beautifully. I think the material is more sturdy and they are more designed for a sporty type body. But every girl wants a pretty costume too - especially if you spend a lot of time in the sport type ones for sport.  If the costume is long enough and fits it would gape wide open at the bums. Fit a smaller number and it will pull in between the legs. We have not been able to find a one piece suit that fits her in years. In the end we resorted to tanktinis. Last year was rather desperate as we could not find one that fit after literally trying about 20 on and settled on the most modest bikini we could find - which she then refused to wear without a sun top over it.

This year by chance she saw a swimming costume in Woolworths that stole her heart. She begged to just try it on - knowing it will most probably not fit. We took 3 others that she also liked - all in two numbers and lo and behold! Her dream one fitted! And one of the others also beautifully. She did keep the original one that caught her eye but I am delighted that she had a choice!

The very pretty second option
The one she chose

We are absolutely delighted that the cuts or materials of some costumes has obviously been changed ( I think so because the other two did exactly what the ones in the past did and I do not think her body has changed much between the two years)

So here's a shout out to those that may have the same body issues the Juggling act girls have. Got to Woollies. One stop costume shopping.

(Disclaimer - this is my own initiative. I was not asked by Woolworths, received nothing from them. I see it as community service to all the girls with swimming costume issues)
All images on this post from Woolworths SA website

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The low down on weekends

Sometimes we have really crappy weekends - honestly! We really can not be the only ones to sometimes miss the wonders of  what a weekend is supposed to be.  Too much to do that are chores, too much to run around with. No real fun. No real rest.  Kids that decide to be unpleasant is some way or another. Weekends where you actually wish it was Monday. Do you have those too?

I know that one has to make a conscious decision to enjoy moments and to make the most out of it. And to plan for happy things. But I am also convinced that sometimes the stars align for a great one, and sometimes a monster invades the kids and hands you a bad one.

This weekend however was a great one. Thank goodness. The heatwave was at its highest point.
This was Friday evening!
Part of what made the weekend great was the start. I took the kids for horse riding on Friday afternoon and although it was very hot and dusty there is a peace and tranquility at the stables that always soothes the soul. We then stopped at the closest movies to see Hotel Transylvania - enjoyed by us all. The rest of the evening was spent around rugby on tv and take aways.

Saturday morning the kids and I set out to do our Santa shoebox shopping and a few more chores. Luck was with us and we bought almost everything at two shops opposite each other in the same shopping centre. I was delighted to find these plastic containers for only R33 to use in stead of shoeboxes. I have always wanted to do this as it is so practical but can not spend a fortune on one. We did our Santa shoebox shopping early this year as the kids and I are camping this weekend.

We also picked up photos at The  Parkview shopping centre - I hate that centre but sadly the photo lab I use has moved there. Totally out of my way so I make a plan to stop there if I have a Saturday that affords me the time to do it. After being such troopers and carefully shopping for the Santa shoeboxes for "their friends" (we choose a same aged child for each kids to shop for) I reasoned a milkshake or ice cream was in order. Eds easy diner is close and boy, Mr L enjoyed a huge sundae! I was totally astonished at the ice cream capacity he has. The other two had more moderate milkshakes. I ordered nothing as I knew I would have to help finish milkshakes and ice cream.

Saturday late afternoon and evening was spent with good friends, a bit of great wine, an almost too warm pool, rugby and lots of laughter.
We slept in a bit on Sunday and then we went to do my moms' shopping and complete our Santa shoebox shopping. I had these "bats" and ball toys in mind for a while after spotting them at Dischem. I also bought a set for us and the kids played with it for a long time. One throwing, two catching - I hope our shoebox kids love them too.

Then there was afternoon naps for most of us! After checking school bags etc we ended off the weekend with a swim and Sunday dinner - early enough to have a good nights' sleep in preparation for the new term.

So - how was your weekend?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Sometimes a snap decision is the 100% right one

Sardinia bay - the most beautiful beach
Last week we made a snap decision to fly down to Port Elizabeth and visit Oupa and Ouma. Oupa had his birthday on Friday and it was such a pleasure to share it with him. It was without a doubt for all of us such a treat and 100% the right thing to do. We all spent time with him at the house and we had lots of adventures with Ouma.

Port Elizabeth blessed us with 3 incredible days - cool enough to stay on the beach without feeling over heated, but warm enough for a swim in the sea and the pool. No wind and abundant sun. It was truly a blessing in itself after a busy term.

Some things - family time and special moments together - are priceless. Memories are made that will last a lifetime. C will always remember how he fell asleep next to Oupa one night while chatting away. L will never forget the rugby games watched, dissected  and discussed. A will treasure holding Oups hand while stroking the cat on his bed - the cat that refuse A to stroke her any where else in the house. It reminds me of that old  credit card add where the money value was mentioned and then the experience as priceless. Totally priceless moments. I am so glad we did this.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

On Thursday night our Moya left us.

Just a few days ago we celebrated her 14th birthday. On Thursday night she collapsed in her daddys' arms and later joined her sister Bongi and brother Rufus forever running on the beach - strong, young and fit.

We miss you so much my dear Princess Moya. You were a legend in your own lifetime. You were our first baby, our loyal friend, our protector , our comforter, our companion . Your place in the house is empty but our hearts are full of your love forever.  We are so sad  -we will always love you. But we know it was time for you to go on your own time and terms. Always our sweet Moya.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book review: "A man called Ove"

Once in a while I read a book that just takes me totally by surprise. One that I can not wait to share with you . One that can not wait for the roughly 3 monthly book post. One that I want to talk about now and am going to ever so subtly push you to read.

I am not sure why we have never read many Scandinavian authors before the recent flood of them. Maybe the publishing world woke up to the wonderful possibilities recently- who knows? The only ones I can remember reading previously was  "Out of Afrca" by the Danish Isak Denissen (or more correctly the Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke ) and the formidable medieval historical trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter  by Norwegian nobel prize winner Sigrid Undset. Somewhere in the 1990's Danish writer Peter Hoeg published the excellent Miss Smillas sense of snow (or feeling for snow depending on the edition) and a few other books. That was it!

Then came the Girl with the dragon tattoo series by the late Swedish author Stieg Larson. (No I have not read book no 4 as yet) Soon some of us discovered Henning Mankell the Swedish crime writer and master suspense writer Norwegian Jo Nesbo. I have enjoyed many hours with the excellent webs of intrigue these two spin. Somehow it seems that the peaceful Scandinavian countries have a love for crime , blood and gore.

Then came the wonderful "The hundred- year -old -man that climbed out of the window and disappeared" by Jonas Jonasson from Sweden. (currently living in Switzerland) and we got a taste for the off beat Scandinavian humour. I totally loved the book and had to read his next one "The girl who saved the king of Sweden" which I possibly loved even more for the way out South African angle. Then last week I read a book which is without a doubt my best Scandinavian find as yet. A formidable accomplishment if you take into account the books mentioned above.

A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman - a Swedish author. It is a book that spoke to me on so many levels and in so many aspects. 

"People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was colour. All the colour he had."

Ove is a slightly odd man - possibly the only real description I can give. But there is something about Ove that you grow to love as the book progress. Once in a while you read a book that you love, totally love but am unable to explain just why you love it so much. This is one of those books. So very well written- totally talking to you emotions. I laughed, I wiped a tear and I increasingly grew very fond of Ove and all the wonderful other characters that populate this book. And absolute must read.

So, have you read it? Will you try it ? And have you read any good books lately?