Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tuesday Booksday

Time for some book talk again. I though to wait unti next week to give you the May books in one batch but honestly I do not know how much reading is going to happen over the long weekend in any event .

The Handome Man's Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

Reading a no 1 Ladies detective agency novel is like having coffee with an old friend. You know her family and friends but you get an update on their newest movements and doings. Just as it's not really about the coffee (or the case in question) it's about the cast of characters we know so well. It's familiar and comforting and in the same sense there is always something new. I feel like I have just had a great cup of redbush tea and a genorous slice of fruit cake with Mma Ramotswe. 

Recommended for fans and friends of Mma Ramotswe with a 8/10

 Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Sometimes one needs a day or two to write a book review - sometimes it needs to sink in a bit before you can write about it. This was the case with "Still Alice" which left me very sad, but to an extent at peace when the books ends.

Walk the devastating road with Alice Howard, Linguistics professor who at the very young age of 50 is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers disease. The book is so well written that you experience life as seen by Alice as the disease progress and her memory fades away. You feel her pain, her frustration and in the end her sadness and content ease.

I do love how the relationships between her and her children and husband are changed and affected and how each is portrayed in the book - especially with Lydia.

I found myself questioning my own memory at times... A great read - 9/10. I hear that the movie is a great interpretation of the book but have not seen it.

Any book recommendations?

Monday, 25 April 2016

Mouthwatering Mondays

It's about time we do one of these again....

My MIL often make these - she calls them Brownies, which in all honesty they are not - but I have no idea what their correct name is. But let's just call the Marie biscuit chocolate squares - one of the few recipes I know by heart. I made these for the church's bake sale yesterday and they were apparently  sold out. Addictive and great with ice cream for desert too.
500g butter
1kg Icing sugar
250 ml good quality cacao
2 eggs
2 packets of Marie biscuits, broken into small bits.

Melt butter and remove from heat.
Stir in icing sugar and cacao until well mixed.
Beat the two egss together and add to the mix - mix well.
Add Marie biscuits. Mix very well

Pour into an over tray and let is cool down completely before you cut squares. They keep well in a airtight container but also freeze very well.

You will see that you can easily half the recipe but honestly it serves no purpose as you soon find yourself making another batch. Also the taste equals the cocoa quality 

So do you have an "off by heart" cookie recipe? Please share.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Five for Friday edition 6

Gosh, it's been a week (and a half) and really Friday is not here one second too soon.

This morning we celebrated Mr C's lovely teacher's birthday. She is one of those special ones - she was A's grade 1 teacher and I really adore her. We also said goodbye to her - sad, but there's a plus. She is moving to our local high school where she will teach maths - after she obtained her masters degree in maths a bit more than a year ago I guess it has always just been a matter of time. The new teacher in her place is co teaching for the last two weeks of the months to ensure a smooth transition.

This cake was above amazing
Yesterday saw me walking around in the rain on site - and it was cold and the wind was chilly. I have never been one to believe that feeling cold can give you a cold but today I have a runny nose and sore throat.

I am loving having my camera back - can not stop taking pictures.

We have a small succulent garden that my MIL started when she visited - I love it! Some of the have already started flowering.

It's truly and honestly autumn although it feels too hot. I drove through the streets of Joburg yesterday struck by the beauty of the season.

Have a great weekend. What are you up to?

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Yesterday was one of those days

I have a situation at work. Well not at work - on a building site. It's one of those situations where it's not my fault but I need to make things work around the fault. You know, when the sh* hits the fan it spreads? When grown men shout and stomp their feet and walk off site like 3 year olds - you know? Those type of situations.

I spent 4 hours in the sun measuring out parking bays that a qualified person is supposed to be able to do by themselves - if they have only build the boundary wall on the actual boundary and not half a meter short - the crux of the issue. It's a domino effect of gigantic proportions.

Hence my planned books post never happened.  More books for next week I guess.
I came home exhausted and tired and just short of tears. To three pairs of embracing arms, homework all done and waiting to spend time with me. Offering to feed the dogs, asking me to listen to their flute practice and showing off full marks tests. Thank goodness to our au pair who helps so much.

Coming home was the best part of the day - and then when Hunter came home later even better. Good thing that when life is tough at the office it's great at home.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Saturday a year ago....

Labrador rescue posted an urgent request for a foster home for a brown labby girl found in Pretoria. As they do not have a permanent foster home and we only had our elderly Moya with us at the time we offered to help - as we did many years ago with another labby girl called Nandi.

She was an immediate hit with not only our Moya as great company but also with the kids and us. She is a true lady with beautiful manners and lots of love to give. She "talks" by raising her paw to get your attention and as you talk to her the paw keeps "talking" back. When she was never claimed we started the formal process of adopting her to become our furever baby as by then we could clearly see she was just the girl for us. She is a much appreciated and loved member of the family.

Happy adoptiversary dear Gabby - we love you and furever will. A made her and Ocean each a "cake" of Beeno and viennas - two of their favorite treats. We sang to her and the kids blew out her candle because this is now her birthday to us. We hope she has many wonderful years left with us.       

So have you adopted before? I agree there certainly is a pace for buying puppies and raising them but I love the rescue dogs so much.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

It takes a village.....

You know the old saying "It takes a village to raise a child"? I realize more and more that we still have a village - although our modern one may look a bit different.

Yesterday afternoon I got a Whatsapp call - now these are still a surprise to me every time I get them. But the photo that dusplayed with the call clearly showed two boys in our school's uniform. So I pick up. Turns out it's a mom of a grade 3 boy (that we have never shared a class or team with before so I do not know them by sight) - she introduces herself and ask if I am C's mom. I confirm. She says that the rugby practice for their team has finished half an hour early so she thought to give me a call rather than let the boys wait for so long. I was so thankful. She offered to drop them but I declined as our au pair and A had to leave the house in a few minutes in any event and just picked them up then before dropping A at ballet. By then I have found her on Facebook and recognized her photo. Indeed we have had a few chats before on the school ground - her name did sound familiar.

But guys, this is our village. The moms that when a party invite on a Whatsapp group shows up offers to ferry whoever needs to go. The ones that call you and offer to fetch if maybe you can take kids somewhere. The ones that on the class' Whatsapp group types: " I am in shop x and the item we need for Friday costs R20. Who wants? I will wait for 5 minutes before I buy". Our village basically is the other parents at school. Likie the mom that send me a message to say that her son has stopped with Judo and she knows we are missing a pair of pants - would we like his gi? And no, she does not want money for it. And in return we help each other - this morning I get a Whatsapp from one of L's friends' mom - she has already dropped him at school but forgot tuck shop money - can I maybe send him some and she will give it back tomorrow morning via L? I will gladly do - because next week she will do something for me. It's a bit like borrowing sugar from your neighbour in that old village.

 I guess the Whatsapp groups is a whole discussion on their own - sometimes I hate them (and mute them) but more often than not they are helpful. A's class has one that creates a new dimension to the village idea. The moms will post all assessments etc as reminders - our A is good at telling us everything but some moms says that it is the only way they would know of everything. So you would the Sunday get a list of assessments this week. If someone has something to add they will. But of course - the golden rule for Whatsapp groups works well in this one - no one says tnak you a million times, you only use it if you have something helpful to add or need to ask . No jokes, no adds, no 24 "thank yous". Plain and straight to the point. A wonderful helpful village in your phone.

I have to admit that maybe it takes a bit of time and effort to establish that village - and some year's parents are more helpful than others - but it is so totally worth it. And sometimes it even surprise you by growing on it's own - like yesterday.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

It's Tuesday Booksday

Personally I am a huge fiction reader - its my poison of choice. So is A. She can get lost in a book - reminds me so much of myself at her age. Hunter would rather read an autobiography or biography or anything that is in the non -fiction genre (with some exceptions like Deon Meyer). C reads very well but he is not a lover of fiction. He reads the odd book but he loves non fiction too. Add to that his insatiable curiosity about anything historical and you have an idea of what to get him to read. After all he is our aspiring archeologist. That being said, all 3 the kids love a certain type of book - call it an illustrated fact book. Like this one (History year by year) we reviewed before.

Today let me show you this wonderful book (that I picked up at the Exclusive Books sale for R69,00 - best buy ever!) It has been one of those where they fight over who gets to read it today. It is called Archeology detectives, written by Simon Adams and published by Barron's.
The books starts with a child friendly index page that show you the different archeological discoveries the book features with their time frames.
This is followed by a page that is very informative on what archeology is a how some techniques work
The seperate archeological finds follow is a well structure format of:

A title page with a big photograph and a location pointer on the world map with description and a summation of what the discovery is.

 He next two pages gives background on the people and place that was discovered - background to the find.
The next two pages shows the actual find with sketches and photographs.
The last two pages is about the archeology itself - how it was found, restored or displayed and what the finding showed.
 It's a wonderful fascinating read that I have dipped into myself.

So I would love to know which books your kids love (and fight about) and would they be interested in a book like this?

Friday, 8 April 2016

Five for Friday edition 5

1. I have my camera back! Canon was brilliant - as was my local camera repair shop. Despite handed in before the Easter long weekend I had it back just a day longer than a week later- repaired totally free of charge under warranty. It was the motherboard - I am very thankful it was still under warranty. It's like having an old friend back.

2. I have a new iPad - replaced by insurance but due to my old one being almost 4 years old we chose to get an iPad mini. I am so glad I chose it - am loving it from the start again. I use it quite a lot for work so I had to get it replaced but I am loving Kindle all over again.

3. At the first sign of cooler weather the kids were in their onesies. They literally could not wait. They always look like a threesome of teddy bears in them. But yes, of course A's would be too short. I went straight to Pick n Pay who had heaps last winter and yes, heaps again - very warm thick ones, slightly thinner ones, with hoodies, without hoodies.... take your pick.

4.  You know those things kids need for school? Odd beads, maybe coloured paper, ice cream sticks and stuff - it seems less now than in pre primary but they are still there. This week it was lead free soldering wire for Afrikaans. I kids you not - for Afrikaans ! And a spoon and beads. It turns out lead free soldering wire is rather tricky to find in small quantities and cost a fortune in rolls. The moms of the class banded together and soon we had it sorted among us. And if the result is as pretty as the spoon below... anytime. (It was a "follow written instructions assessment" )

5. Mr C is into origami - honestly those little diagrams and instruction leave me confused. But he seems to get it - totally by himself. I am amazed and proud - and a little ashamed that I have not tried harder to do this myself.

With that - wishing you a great weekend.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Let's talk books

Its Tuesday - the day I try to (sometimes) talk about books and gosh yes, it has been a while. So a rundown on the last 4 books I have read - by chance I see all of them can vaguely fall into the thriller/ murder mystery category.
The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo
I have read a good share of Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series but this one in all honesty is my favorite up to date. In the midst of a freezing cold December a Salvation army officer is shot in public. But nobody has any recollection of who shot him or can recognize a face from the newspaper photos taken at the event. Our friend Harry has to find the murder while also dealing with a new boss and as always trying to stay sober.

What a story? Full of twists and turns and many surprises on the way this is an excellent read that speaks much deeper than the obvious story line. If this is at all your cup of tea, give it a read. a well deserved 10 / 10.

Zululand Snow by Ian Tennent
Craig, Sean and Hannes are 3 rather typical boys of their time - growing up in a fictional town in Zululand in the 1980's. Full of gusto and spirit they conquer the bush with their BMX bikes and seek adventure of the rather historical kind. They deal with imaginary but also some very real threats in the process resulting in a fast paced adventure of note.

I really enjoyed this book for so many reasons. One of them is without a doubt that I can place myself in the time frame with ease. I grew up with Casio watches and Mongoose bikes and cyclone Demoina is still vivid in my memory. They could have been my friends at school - although I wish I had the honour to grow up in this more rural setting. The author sets the scenes in a perfectly described world where you can smell the dust and the rain and feel the heat on your skin. The story line is well paced and enough suspense to keep one turning page after page without thinking about how late it is.

I am a bit in two minds as to how I feel about the very beautiful descriptive language the author use. Although I love it in most of the places there were times where I felt that it interfered with the pace of the action and I almost wanted to glace over them. That being said, I did find myself sometimes going back to re read once I had the tension released in the part to enjoy the writing again.

Although classified as Young Adult I thoroughly enjoyed the book - but then I am a tad partial towards Young Adult books and read them often enough. Ian Tennet is going to make a name for himself in the South African literary circle with this book - a solid 8/10

Disclaimer: I  was given an electronic copy of this book to review in exchange for an honest review. 

Prooi deur Fanie Viljoen 
Prooi is die verhaal van 3 jong mense - Owen, gedrewe oosterse vegkuns tier, Cody, doellose selfgeabsorbeerde narcis en Lauren, beeldskoon en sensueel maar sonder werklike anker. Die drie se paaie kruis met mekaar en die geheime klub "Black Valentine" met sy misterieuse eienaar is waar als bymekaar kom.

Aanvanklik het ek die boek klaar gelees en gesug en gedink, aarde, maar as die jeug vandag so is het ons reuse probleme. Die drie hoofkarakters het my almal intens geirriteer.  Ek besef dat ek geen raakpunt met daardie generasie en hulle probleme het nie. Maar hoe meer ek dink aan die boek hoe meer meen ek dit is tog die lees werd - tog die nadink en waarskuwing.

'n Redelike storie met 'n spanningslyn wat my nie altyd geboei het nie - dink ek tog sal party mense die boek werklik geniet, 6,5/10.

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.
I really do not know where to start with this review apart from saying that it is possibly one of the best books in this genre that I have ever read. Meet Pilgrim, an outsider, an orphan,  a spy in the most secret of worlds and a top class thinker. Meet Saracen - a traumatized boy, a physician, a terrorist out on revenge and also a top class thinker. Their worlds collide to dramatic effect in a city I once visited, Bodrum in Turkey to the backdrop of the international world of the rich and famous.

What I really liked about the book is that the background and history of the characters provide so much substance to add to and excellent tension filled story line. The background spans years over many continents while the pace never slacks. The language is relatively simple and makes for very easy reading. It is a gripping 800 plus pages that I could gladly have extended with another few hundred.

Fast paced filled with many credible and fully coloured characters it is a MUST READ if you are at all a fan of this genre.  All the hype is not for nothing. But what I like most of all is that the characters are so real - their thinking, their motivations and their decision all ring true to them and their background. Another great 10/10 .