Tuesday, 15 December 2020

KOO diced beetroot with new flavours - Taste review

 

Spicy new KOO Diced Beetroot
 KOO Diced Beetroot: 
Mrs H. S Balls Chutney Sauce and Spicy Chutney Flavoured Sauce

                    Flavour has arrived!

KOO beetroot is a firm staple in most South African households. Ours as well, of course! 😜We know we can trust it for adding that extra bit of deliciousness to any plate. It is easy to dish up, tasty and always welcome. We have it on hand during the week when we are rushed, but also over the weekend for the braai or get-togethers. The new KOO Diced Beetroot with new flavours, Mrs H. S Balls Chutney Sauce and Spicy Chutney Flavoured Sauce are just what this festive season needs! We received a blog drop with these two new flavours, and we gave it top marks for the new taste sensations. 

See our taste review below.

KOO Diced Beetroot:  Mrs H. S Balls Chutney Sauce and Spicy Chutney Flavoured Sauce
Gift: KOO Diced Beetroot in Le Creuset bowl with spatula

We are incredibly excited to be adding the new KOO Diced Beetroot in Mrs H.S Balls Chutney and Spicy Chutney flavours. Innovation is one of the key attributes of the KOO brand and over the years, we have been able to deliver on the needs of our loyal customers, by switching things up and adding some excitement and flavour infusions to the plate and this latest product is on different,” said KOO Marketing Manager, Neo Dikamotse.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Scrabble - the original all-time favourite family game

Scrabble SA
Mattel's Scrabble SA

"Bring your own words into play" - ©Scrabble

                                                                                                         Sponsored

One of our all-time favourite games: Scrabble. We have many fond memories of playing Scrabble with family and friends. We got a Scrabble Original game from Mattel last week.There was nothing better than ending a year of school during a pandemic, than a relaxing game of Scrabble with a friend. The girls had so much fun, and even more so when they took a bit of liberty with "creative" words. 😉

Scrabble SA - girls playing
Scrabble fun

The history of Scrabble is very interesting:

During America's Great Depression, in 1933, an out of work architect named Alfred Mosher Butts invented the game. The established game manufacturers were not interested in his invention. Only when Alfred Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur, it all came together. They refined the rules and design and came up with the name SCRABBLE - a word defined as 'to grasp, collect, or hold on to something'. The SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game was trademarked in 1948, and the rest is history  pure board game fun!

                                                                                          - ©Scrabble

 

Monday, 7 December 2020

Nunuki SPF and bug cream - review

Nunuki SPF Suncream and bug cream
Nunuki Suncream and Bug cream gift pack


We have been using Nunuki Suncream SPF 30 and Bug Cream for a couple of weeks, after we received a blog drop. We are already very impressed with the product. Nunuki is being branded as "Baby products for Little Humans", but the entire family has been using it. Miss Fine really loves the easy-to-use silky soft cream, which does not irritate her eczema prone skin. She also has been using the bug cream every night, because she does not have the protection of a mosquito net anymore. It does keeps the mozzies away!   

These are our reasons for loving it, and why we will be buying it again. (See the review below.)

Nunuki sunscream and bug cream in mirror
Nunuki sunscream and bug cream

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Disney Festive - Gift ideas and a Give-away - "From Our Family to Yours"

Festive with Disney
Festive With Disney Retail products - gift from Disney

It's no secret that we are big fans of Disney and the magic it brings! We received a Disney Festive blog drop, and Disney is gifting one reader of this blog a give-away as well. 🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

Festive times are loading and we are here for this! 2020 has been hard on most of us... 

There are Disney-themed Christmas trees appearing in malls across the country. Sandton City and Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg, Woodlands Boulevard in Pretoria, Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Durban and Canal Walk in Cape Town. Visitors can spread the festive cheer by donating to Smile Foundation and Reach for a Dream.

If you haven't seen Disney's Festive advert yet, it is such a feel-good animation with the song "Love is a compass", by Griff.

 

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Month 8 of living during a pandemic

Mom and daughter at Plaaskombuis

The title sounds a bit melodramatic? But this year has been taxing! Of course I can count all my blessings. But 2020 still sucks rocks! Now I smirk about my word for 2020. There is nothing to grab this year, Karen!

I am walking around with a feeling of existential dread. Constantly. 2020 has brought us ambivalent feelings about everything. Will we ever go back to how it was? The new way of living has become normal. Would we want to go back to the "previous normal"? It has also been good to not catch the normal winter germs, and not get sick this winter...

The Brave Little African Girl - Book review

The Brave Little African Girl - book review
The Brave Little African Girl

We got this little gem of a book to review: The Brave Little African Girl, by Thabitha Mathabatha. It's so satisfying when you enjoy the character and the storyline, AND there's a life lesson that lingers on. Our children are going through a difficult time with regards loss. Loss of normal life and the tragic loss of loved ones. The book learns us about the importance of the "Village". It takes a village to raise a child. Society can help children dealing with loss and depression. 

This is a great book for girl and boys 5 - 10 years of age.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Another winner via Booktasters - The Network, by Margaret Lomas (review)

The Network

I am trying my utmost to read mostly escapist type of fiction during this time. I am struggling during this pandemic to stay positive, but a good book does the trick. I was lucky to get The Network, by Margaret Lomas, via Booktasters. 

This is my review, in exchange for a free pdf copy of the book.


The NetworkThe Network by Margaret Lomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a pdf copy of this book via Booktasters, in exchange for a honest review.

The storyline transports you to Jakarta, in Indonesia. It is an adventure from the first line, and Samantha is a truly inspiring main character, who we meet as an upcoming reporter in Australia. She gets to take on the challenge of a new job, in a new city in Indonesia.

She is dealing with the loss and betrayal of a former love, while meeting a new love interest in Jakarta. There's the journalistic excitement that comes with a new job, and new stories that needs to be unraveled. We are not exactly sure who are the antagonists. It can be very close to home, in the character of a close friend, or the wider socio-religious-political climate? All this makes for a wonderful read. It keeps us guessing until the last pages. The city of Jakarta comes alive with all its colours, smells and splendours in which Sam emerges herself.

Thank you for taking us on this inner and outer journey, and for new worlds being opened to us, Margaret Lomas. This is a great escapist read!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

The Fujifilm instax mini 11 is better - Review

 

Group of 5 different colours Instax mini 11's
Fujifilm Instax mini 11 (cc Fujifilm)

Fujifilm Instax mini 11, better than it's predecessors in the Instax mini series of products. Why do I say that? A blush pink Instax mini 11 was made available to us to review. See our reasons below.

Blogger with Instax mini 11 taking photo
Fujifilm Instax mini 11


We are total fans of the Fujifilm Instax series of products. Ever since we got the Instax mini 9 as gift a few years ago, we have been besotted with the instant gratification of a photo print in the hand. There's also nothing better than gifting an instant photo on the spot. Whoever needed an id photo for school or sports? Instantly sorted with an Instax option. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Pictionary Air - a hysterically funny game for the whole family

Pictionary Air
                                                                                                         
                                                                                                               *Sponsored

Mattel's Pictionary Air is the the classic quick-draw game has been taken to the next level. This hilarious version of the game takes sketching off paper and onto your phone, tablet or TV screen.

Players take turns to draw in the air and see it on screen via the free Pictionary Air™ app (also on the Google Play store), while trying to guess the object. The in-app camera gets pointed at the illustrator and they appear, along with their sketch, on the screen of your smart device. Extra hilarity ensues when the sketch goes sideways because the illustrator struggles to stay on point with the sketching, or the person holding the in-app camera moves (on purpose, OR not!). Casting to your TV causes even bigger laughs!

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Month 6 of the pandemic

Karen Dream SnapChat filter

Not only have we been slowed down in our way of living, but we have been incapacitated in every other way. Our thoughts, our being, our dreams, our physical selves... Everything has been impacted. Covid-19 has put us in survival mode. We are burning out, but there's still no end date in sight...  

I wanted to write more here, and create more memories about our experiences, but I was just... in stasis! Lock-down day 104 looks about the same as today. It's now Day 160. I know it's not only me that had the same experience, and I am in awe of people who could kept going, and creating, and doing things. And sharing their lives! I am still "hibernating".

Yes, sure, we go on. Because we have to. We have to work, if we still have a job. We go to school, every other day. We are still fine, and healthy! Thank, goodness! Every time any one of us sneezes, or complain of some sort of ailment, we first think we have the dreaded Virus. But so far, so good! We even missed the regular colds and flu's of winter, because of the masks, hand washing and social distancing. 

Happening right now: I have to work a full day, every second day. I am so grateful for my job, and that I can be of service in this time. Hubby has been retrenched two months back. We are hopeful that something will be around the corner very soon. He all of a sudden got two job interviews coming up today, so hopefully there's light. This has been very stressful.

We haven't been out that much, except going to the shops. We have seen my parents again, since Level 2 was announced. We are also slowly trying to see some friends again, but very limited, and when the weather allows us. 

Spring has come with another cold front, but hopefully by the weekend we can start enjoying the sun!

How are you coping?

Friday, 14 August 2020

13 creative new ways to #KeepPlaying UNO

 

PLaying UNO
Keep playing UNO 


It's day million-and-whatever in lockdown in South Africa, and by now everything has gone stale. It  feels like we are in groundhog day, and we will never get out of this loop. Miss Fine says we complain to much, so that's my moan for the month! Mattel Playroom still keeps us entertained during these pandemic times, also with UNO and DOS card games. We love that there are so many ways to play UNO. 

Check it out...

13 NEW CHALLENGING WAYS TO PLAY UNO

UNO® SECRET

UNO® has a secret!  At the beginning of the game, everyone is dealt a card face down. They can look at it, but it has to stay face-down THE WHOLE GAME, and then becomes the last card you are allowed to play to win the round.  Game play continues as usual until one player gets rid of ALL the cards in their hand.  They then yell “UNO” to indicate they are down to one card (the “Secret” card).   On their next turn, they have to be able to play their Secret card to win the round.  If their Secret card doesn’t match the discard pile (or isn’t a Wild card), they have to draw a card from the Draw pile and keep playing.  If they can play their Secret card, they WIN!


UNO® SLAPS

Get ready for some hand-slappin’ fun!  With this rule, you play UNO® like normal, except whenever someone plays the EXACT same card as the top of the discard pile (for example a Red 2 on Red 2), everyone races to slap the Discard pile. Once you slap it, keep your hand there and the last player to get their hand on the pile has to draw 2 cards!

UNO® TINY HANDS

No, you don’t need small appendages at the end of your arms for this rule, everybody just starts with three cards in their hand (instead of the usual seven).  The action will come fast and furious, so be ready to yell “UNO” when you’re down to one card!

UNO® BIG HANDS

When it comes to UNO, big hands mean big fun. Players start with 12 cards each and the rest of the game plays like regular UNO. Games may last longer but that’s where the big fun comes in!

UNO® GOLF

The object in real Golf is to get the LOWEST score, and it’s the same in UNO® Golf.  After each round, whoever doesn’t win has cards left in their hand.  Count those cards and keep them in a running tally on a separate sheet of paper.  For example, Brian wins a round and Sally has three cards in left her hand so you mark three cards for Sally.  Do the same for all other players (except Brian, who won the round) and then start another round.  Keep playing, and when any player’s tally reaches 50 cards, look at everyone’s tally and whoever has the FEWEST amount of cards WINS!  

UNO® BINGO 

UNO® has a new way to play and Bingo is its name-o!  Simply print out the UNO® Bingo sheets from https://www.mattelgames.com/en-us/cards/uno and distribute one to each player. As you play, if you can pull off an achievement such as “Play a Zero” or “Reverse a Reverse” and it matches a square on your sheet, mark it off!  If you’re the first player to get 5 in a line or all 4 corners, you WIN!

UNO® STACK

Get ready to pass the pain!  If someone plays a Draw 2 card on you, normally you would have to draw the two cards and that would be your turn.  But if you have a Draw 2 card in your hand, you can “stack” it on top of the one played on you and pass it to the next player. They now have to draw four cards because of the “stack.”   If they have a Draw 2 card, they can “stack” it, too – and the next player now has to draw six cards!  The stacking can continue until one player has no Draw 2 card to play and they have to draw the accumulated cards.  Oh, and you can “stack” Draw 4 cards as well – OUCH!

UNO® REVERSE BOUNCE-BACK

Right back atcha!  When someone play a Draw 2 card on you, if you have a Reverse card of the SAME COLOUR, you can play it and the penalty bounces back onto them!  Now they have to draw the penalty cards!

UNO® SKIP BOUNCE

Skipping never felt so good.  If someone plays a Draw 2 on you and you have a Skip card of the SAME COLOUR in your hand, you can play it and “bounce” the penalty to the next player!  The next player must draw the two cards, unless they have a Skip card (of any colour) they can play, in which case they pass the penalty to the next player and so on until no one has a Skip card and must draw two cards. 

UNO® WILD +1

Just like the name says, when you play a Wild card and choose a colour, you may play a card of that colour card on top of it!  Normally you would have to wait until your next turn, but you can play this card IMMEDIATELY!

UNO® KEEP DRAWING

Normally when you don’t have a card in your hand to play, you take one card from the Draw Pile and that’s your turn.  But with this rule, you have to KEEP DRAWING until you draw a card that you can play.  Will it be one card?  Five cards? TEN cards?!  You’ll have to keep drawing to find out.

UNO® QUICK PLAY

This version keeps the game moving lightning fast! The game plays as usual, but at any time, if a player has a card that EXACTLY matches the discard pile (Yellow 7 on a Yellow 7), they can play it IMMEDIATELY even if it’s not their turn.  This can go on until no one has a card to play, then play continues from the last person to play a card. 

UNO® MULTIPLES

Twins, triplets, quads—in this version, multiples dominate. The game plays as usual, but any time a player has multiple cards of the same value, they can be played together. Get rid of all your 8s at once; play 2 skips, 3 reverses. You get the idea, get the idea, get the idea…


View this post on Instagram

We did not realize there was so much to know about UNO. The game is great for family time during lockdown. Look out for a post about 13 different ways to play UNO #Gift #TradeExchange #UNOandDOSsa #LockDownSA Did you know? 18 interesting facts about the game UNO: 1. The game was invented in 1971 by Merle Robbins. 2. Uno was created to help solve an argument about Crazy Eights. 3. Merle invested $8,000 to make 5,000 first edition Uno games. 4. Merle Robbins sold the rights to Uno for more than $50,000. 5. Mattel announced in 2019 that Uno is now available in braille. (Not available in South Africa yet) 6. The game has its own unique deck of 108 cards. 7. Uno sales are still increasing year over year. 8. Uno is a great way to teach little kids about counting and color recognition. 9. Playing Uno can help children develop fine motor skills. 10. Modern Uno is available in various themes. 11. Uno is available on modern gaming consoles. 12. The Uno app makes it possible to download the game to your mobile phone. 13. Uno is designed for players of 3 years and up. 14. Playing Uno provides good-clean-fun socializing opportunities. 15. Uno teaches children about strategic thinking. 16. Playing Uno improves children’s basic mathematics skills. 17. Uno bridges the gap between young and old family members. 18. The game is highly portable and can be taken anywhere.

A post shared by Karen Du Toit (@karentoittoit) on


Disclaimer: We got UNO and DOS card games as trade exchange.  

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Cutest cloud surprises with Cloudees

Cloudees Wistful Platypus and Cloudees Mini Surly Panda
Cloudees
An awesome collectable surprise with a weather-based theme. What's not to like? Kids get a magical cloud container, with a surprise Mattel Cloudees pet inside. There are 14 large Cloudees and 14 accompanying Cloudees Mini pets to collect. They are super cute!

We give our rating below why we love this collectables so much. (We maybe love small desk buddies more than we should, but look at them!)

Check out the Miss Fine Insta IGTV's first.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Foodie Friday with Disney's Cookabout - Cornbread with Cheddar and Herbs

Cornbread with Cheddar and Herbs -
Image: Anita Reed/Disney Channel

Every Friday I get a Foodie Friday recipe in my inbox. Inspired by Disney's locally produced live action show Disney's Cookabout on Disney Channel, they are sharing some of their healthy and totally delicious recipes that were featured on the most recent season of the show. Kids learn where our food comes from by visiting farms from around the country, before they head back to the kitchen to learn to cook with the ingredients.

I made this absolutely divine cornbread. We have an issue with our oven in our rental, but it still came out super delicious. See our version in a photo, where we used the exact same recipe. Which is a first. We usually add, or substitute something in a recipe, but this one is perfect, and super easy to make!

See recipe, which I copied exactly as is:

Thursday, 16 July 2020

WIN online tickets to DON'T BURN YOUR SAUSAGE, with Chris Forrest and Pete Goffe - this Saturday

Staying in is the new going out:  Chris Forrest and Pete Goffe-Wood re-create a night out 

In these strange and challenging times we need more comedy to keep us sane. What better than the upcoming Don’t Burn Your Sausage, via Mzanzi Live, featuring Chris Forrest and Pete Goffe-Wood this coming Saturday. 8pm, on your couch!
We can't wait!

Two readers can win tickets on Instagram to attend the show. @karentoittoit


View this post on Instagram

GIVE-AWAY! >>> What are you doing this Saturday evening? We need comedy to keep us sane during this time! There’s nothing better than a double whammy of comic genius, Chris Forrest, and celebrity chef, Pete Goffe-Wood, who are creating a night out by scrumptiously blending comedy and cooking together into the ‘Top Gear’ of cooking shows with their lockdown version of Don’t Burn Your Sausage on the 18th of July. The show will be a live online broadcast with Pete cooking from Tintswalo Atlantic in Cape Town and Chris from his home in Randburg. Following sold-out shows in Grahamstown, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Windhoek, the duo has cleverly and successfully delivered this live food show to rave reviews from critics and adjusting to the times, this will be their first online show. The show promises to be an absolute hit for both food- and comedy-lovers alike. Tickets for Don’t Burn Your Sausage on the 18th of July are available at R80 via https://mzanzilive.tv/. The show starts at 20h00 CAT. Proudly brought to you by Mzansi Live in association with Tintswalo Atlantic and La Vierge. Two online tickets are up for grabs: - Tag a bestie - Follow @tintswalo_atlantic @laviergewines The two winners will be announced Friday 17th June at 15pm.
A post shared by Karen Du Toit (@karentoittoit) on
Getting creative online (and in the kitchen), comic genius, Chris Forrest, and celebrity chef, Pete Goffe-Wood, are re-creating a night out by scrumptiously blending comedy and cooking together into the ‘Top Gear’ of cooking shows with their lockdown version of Don’t Burn Your Sausage on the 18th of July.

Deliciously funny and rather ‘whisk-qué, this cheeky duo will demonstrate how food and sex are delectably intertwined as they prepare the ultimate seductive 3-course meal with a naughty line-up that will have you salivating salaciously and crying with laughter.
This refreshingly funny show is jam-packed with great humour and great cooking – with Chris working his special brand of South African humour alongside Pete Goffe-Wood’s unmatched cooking talent, candour and naughtiness.  This pair will win over your hearts and your stomachs.

Chris Forrest has been on the SA comedy scene since the late nineties and Pete Goffe-Wood (best known as the Masterchef South Africa judge known to crack a joke or two), has been making great food for nearly 30 years.  When the two of them met on the set of Celebrity Masterchef SA in 2015, they found that they had a couple of things in common – one of them being the same dry sense of humour and the other, a liking for mouth-watering, delicious food.  After the series ended, they decided to combine their respective talents to bring you this culinary comedy show, the likes that have not been seen before in SA. 
Tickets for Don’t Burn Your Sausage on the 18th of July are available at R80 via https://mzanzilive.tv/.  The show starts at 20h00 CAT.

Proudly brought to you by Mzansi Live in association with Tintswalo Atlantic, which launches on 29 July, and La Vierge.

We are planning to sort Miss Fine with a movie, while we will be sipping wine and escaping, with humour and food. 


Disclaimer: We are also getting a ticket!                   

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

The INSTAX Mini Link smartphone printer is all you need - review

INSTAX Mini Link smartphone printer with print coming out
INSTAX Mini Link 

Ever since we got the INSTAX Mini 9 as a gift at a Fujifilm INSTAX launch a few years back, we have been doting on the INSTAX range for that instant photo gratification. We got the INSTAX Mini Link smartphone printer to test, and we now believe that it is all gadget you need! The 200g INSTAX Mini Link compact palm-top printer comes with unique functions to make this printer a must-have for any event, function or party.

The INSTAX Mini Link app is a free app on the iStore and Google Play store which downloads super fast and easy to create high-quality INSTAX instant prints via bluetooth from a smartphone camera roll. The set-up is quick, and very user-friendly.

INSTAX Mini Link smartphone printer with INSTAX prints
INSTAX Mini Link printer 


The following features of the INSTAX Mini Link are worth mentioning:

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Lock-down day 104

Bitmoji Stay Home
Social distancing 2020
Nearly three and a half months that has gone by in lock-down. We did not think it would last this long, and now we realise it is going to stay like this for quite a while. At least for another year... It's not the rest we hoped for, and not the sabbatical we wish we could always take.

I did not blog as much as I planned I would. I had time, but no motivation.

Things are not the same, and maybe it's never going to be?

What has been happening during these three months of lock-down? Some notes for future reference.

How Lock-down are looking right now:


- Miss Fine has been going to school for her second week. The first week was a full week, but from this week they are only going every second day. Her school is doing the Covid-19 regulations very well. The kids stay in one class, and the teachers rotate. It also helps with isolating Covid-positive risks, and minimise the impact to the whole school. Only the classes and children affected quarantine at home. Miss Fine loves seeing her friends again. She is enjoying school and her new teachers (they had shifted everything again). We are also very relieved to have her back at school, and not having to to constantly trying to get her to work at home. Which did not go as well...
Some days she goes through three masks at school, and some days one is enough. It helps to have a variety at hand.

- Hubby has been retrenched, as so many people we know. He is looking for a new job, and we are hopeful. No, we are stressed about it! He is a teacher, and a financial adviser. If somebody knows of a job opening?

- Our company is also retrenching, so that's an extra stressor. I am hopeful that our department won't be affected, as we are short-staffed already. But you never know... I still go in when there are requests, and keeping up to date with our collections. Luckily I have my own studio, and can keep my distance very easily at work. I feel very safe with the safety protocols they have in place with regards Covid-19.

- We miss the family. We miss the regular visits, and weekends braais (barbecues). We miss seeing our parents. That is the most difficult thing! We miss them!

- We miss spending time with friends as well. I know we will have get-togethers again, but it is difficult not being able to spend some quality time.

- We love our new lodgings. It's a rental, but for now it's home. I do not miss our house as I thought I would. We have unpacked, and made this place our new home. Even Miss Fine has settled in quite well. She does not like change, but given some time, she has adjusted. I bought some curtains online, when it was still not allowed to be bought in the shops. Half of the order was not what we expected, but it is hanging and we love it now. This move has made us realise how much easier it is to change, and take on new adventures.

We have realised that we won't do well with Tiny House Living, but we still enjoy watching all the Tiny House programmes.

- I still dread going to the shops. It is very stressful. Not only trying to avoid catching the dreaded Virus, but also trying to find the products that's now not available. Also, the costs have gone up quite a bit during this time.

- We wear our masks going out of the house. I do it out of respect for you, but also to keep myself safe, as well as anybody I get into contact with. I expect the same from anybody else, and judge people who don't respect the rule, or us.

How long are we going to live like this?
How have you been doing during lock-down?

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Desire of Whimsy - Book review

Twitter call from Booktasters - calling for readers for "Desire of Whimsy"
Screen print: BookTasters on Twitter - "Desire of Whimsy"
We need escapist fiction during this pandemic time. Desire of Whimsy, by Charletta Barksdale, is a great read to do just that.

Thank you, to BookTasters, and the author, for giving me this opportunity

Desire of WhimsyDesire of Whimsy by Charletta Barksdale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book via BookTasters and the author, Charletta Barksdale. This in exchange for an honest review, which I am gladly doing.

I enjoyed this book from the moment I started reading it. In this pandemic global crisis time, this is a great escape from reality. The premise of being in charge of your dreams, and your dreams being impacted from an outside source, is an interesting concept. The main characters, Serenity and Trance, are so likable and feel like intimate friends. We get to share their thoughts, while trying to decipher their puzzling existence. I don't want to give away too much about the outcomes, and the unfolding of the relationship paradigms, because then it wont be such a treat to read...

This is a short read, and my only negative is that I would have wanted the book to be longer and explore the lives of the characters even more. The surrounding reality/world could have been explored in more detail.

Charletta Barksdale promises that there is a follow-up on the way, and I can't wait to immerse myself in this fictitious reality again.

Thank you, for giving me this opportunity!

View all my reviews

Friday, 22 May 2020

How to clean your computer, smartphone and tablet - Cleanipedia tips



                                                                                                                  *Trade Exchange

We have become much more conscious of cleaning in these pandemic times (Covid-19 Corona Virus times). It is lock-down day 57 here in South Africa. I am spending more time when I get into the office to clean my workplace, and also my smartphone. I have also been keen to know if I am doing it right. The Cleanipedia portal has some very useful tips for cleaning, I have been spraying anti-bacterial sprays on tissues/paper towels when cleaning my electronic devices. It's not too far off the mark, but it is great to get some extra insights.

Cleanipedia has the following suggestions to clean your smartphone. See also their tips on cleaning your laptop, keyboard and other electronic devices.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Lock-down Day 55

Lock-down masks

I wanted to document every day, but here we are... It's day 55 of lock-down in South Africa. How did we get here so fast? It has been nearly two months, and we have apparently not yet reached the worst. We are hopeful that we are going to level 3 from June.

I saw this on Twitter today, and decided it's good enough reason to give me motivation to start again to write. To document these times for myself, and for future memories.


I have been longing for everything to go back to "normal". Who would have thought that we wished each day to go into the office, and work a full day? To go back to school for our Tween... She can't wait!

Friday, 24 April 2020

Week 4 in lock-down - Mattel Playroom ideas

Lock-down day 29. We are stressing, but we realise that we still have it very good. We still have a house over our heads. Although it is not our house anymore. We can't wait to move to our new lodgings. We are not sure if we will be able to move yet in Stage 4, but all fingers crossed. We can't believe it's been nearing a month of this. (This too shall pass!)

I am still on stand-by, and go into the office as required. Miss Fine has gotten into a good routine with her weekly homework. Which is a lot of work. I am grateful that we have the devices, and wifi, but we are struggling with printing stuff. (And then I think of all the learners who don't have any, and I feel very grateful that we are able to continue.) Miss Fine also loves the fact that she can sleep a bit later.

Miss Fine is a bit of a dawdler, but we get her moving with a bit of delayed gratification. "You do this, and then you can play, play with an app, watch YouTube, or connect with your friends on your phone." We also got the super cool link to the Mattel playroom, which has given us great ideas and apps of what to do during this time.

Mattel Playroom front page (screen print)

Friday, 17 April 2020

Mona Lisa on the Moon, Thirty-two Thousand years in the making - Vol 1 Review

I had the perfect book to get me through the first 21 days of lock-down. We are now in the extended final two weeks. Thank you, Booktasters, and George B, for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Volume 1, Mona Lisa on the Moon, Thirty-Two Thousand Years in the MakingVolume 1, Mona Lisa on the Moon, Thirty-Two Thousand Years in the Making by George B
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you, Booktasters, and George B, for a free copy of this book. It was especially great to read during this time of lock-down during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is my review in exchange: I love a good science fiction novel. I love this one, especially! It has all the allure of what I enjoy about a futuristic novel. Volume 1, Mona Lisa on the Moon, Thirty-Two Thousand Years in the Making, is the first in a series. I hope the next one is coming soon, because it ended in a cliff-hanger.

I totally agree with the premise that the earth has had many high civilisations (and many life cycles), which were wiped out, and started again. Higher evolved beings, with much longer earth lives, living and working with artificial intelligence in harmony. Exploring space, and terra-forming and populating other celestial bodies. With all the challenges (and other life forms) that comes with it! This novel is set in a time frame thirty two thousand years ago. Mind-boggling, but totally believable. (Looking forward to the movie/series edition).

The heroine and main characters are mostly too good to be true, but it did not bother me at all. It was great reading a story where, although the suspense is high, we can expect the outcome to be in their favour. (Mostly...). The plot do not get bogged down with elaborate descriptions, but enough to sustain a good story. Saving earth, saving humans on other planets, as well as saving other life forms in the universe... It's all part of their daily existence.

Maybe it's because we are living in strange times, locked in our homes, that I enjoyed this escapist science fiction even more. I recommend this to all who dream of better futures, where we are in charge of our own destiny! One day we will be where Mona Lisa is! Thank you, George B, for making us dream.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Week 3 in lock-down - Covid-19 days in South Africa

Lady with mask in underground parking
Mask
We have totally lost count of the days. It was day 6 when I said it was day 5 on lock-down. It's day 19 here in South Africa. (I hope.) Nothing much is happening here. 

The days are the same. What gets me is how quickly each day goes. I have so much plans, and of course still packing, but most of the days we can only mark of made food and washed the dishes. Watching too much news, and too much of everything else. We have also caught up with most of the movies that we have always wanted to see. 

Our move has been postponed again. We have never felt so much out of sorts. We should have been in our new house, but now we are stuck in limbo... I know this is going to be a good story, but at this stage it is not funny. We have paid our rent for our new lodgings, and now we are expected to pay rent in our existing home as well. Which we don't have. We are hoping that everybody would be more gracious in their dealings with each other... We are all stuck! In the meantime we are living between boxes. 

I go into work when there is a request. I find it very scary driving through the empty streets, and driving past road blocks. Each time I have to suppress a few tears, and thinking about all the essential workers who have to go in each and every day. Thank you! So far I have not been stopped. But I have my letter, my entrance card and my mask at hand. I also feel very sorry for the beggars that are still hanging around. 

Miss Fine is getting a lot of work to do at home. It is not going well, as she wants constant reinforcement, and help. Which when we give it, is rejected. We have been battling (a much better word than struggling) the maths. She, Hubby and I have been trying to do Amesa maths which have been sent through. It is DIFFICULT! I have come to the realisation that I am very stooopid, and I don't know where I got the idea that I was good at maths at school? Or maybe we did a total other different version of maths? 

We realise she gets a whole lot more done when she is at school. Miss Fine says she can't wait to go back to school! (I'll keep this for future reference, of course.)

I have more nightmares than usual. It is normal for these kinds of days, but it is scary!

How are you coping?

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Lock-down - Day 5

Bitmoji "Keep your distance"
Bitmoji "Keep your distance"
Things have changed drastically for all of us. Here in South Africa we are in lock-down as well. Day 5. We can't even walk the dogs or go for a run. I am not saying this as a negative, as we all commend our government for acting fast and decisive. Our move is on hold, and although this could have been the first day in our new house, we are stuck where we are. We have more time to pack, and go through our stuff. Which is a positive during this time...

Who could have guessed that we would be contained in our own houses for three weeks? And most of us already expect that the containment will last longer. We are worried about the future and how this will impact all of us. I am getting a salary, but my husband's work in the financial industry has slowed down considerably.

I am on standby for work. This means that I make sure I am ready to go in each day. I have my "essential services" letter to show when I have to go in for work. I am able to access my emails, and keep a regular check-up for when a request comes in.

Miss Fine has been living her best life. She loves not having to go anywhere. She is also not motivated to do any school work, as her teachers told them they could enjoy their vacation, and could only expect them to start sending work when school was supposed to start. (She says?) We had a gymnastics exercise scheduled on Saturday, which she missed because we struggled with Zoom. Next week we are going to try again. The gymnastics' teacher sends them regular exercises and updates, which is very cool. But, we have yet to convince Miss Fine to do any of them. Any advice would be appreciated?

I want to give a huge shout-out to all the moms who keep their children entertained with school work,  exercises and arts and crafts. You rock!

The rest of us are just trying to adjust to a new normal.

These are strange times, and it will definitely go into the history books.

For my own records: It feels like the end of the world. Who could have known that we would look forward to normal working days, sitting in traffic, and wishing for that perfect cappuccino from our favourite coffee shops? And we are only on Day 5? We still haven't started with our exercise routine, although Hubby got the exercise bike working again. I baked banana flapjacks yesterday. We still want to bake a banana bread with the rest of the ripe bananas, but there's no baking powder in the shops. Hubby says he and two other men were searching the shelves in Spar today, and a lady was laughing at them, because none of them knew how baking powder looks.

How are you coping?

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Our move on hold with Covid-19

Selfie with dog
Our dog living her best life with all of us at home
Corona! The past few days has been hectic. For everybody! It has been very scary!

I have been quiet, because that's how I deal. I have been watching too much news, and then too much of everything else.

Just this morning I wanted to do a final shopping, but standing queues before entering the shops was just unfathomable. I tried my nearest Woolworths and Spar. I only went later, thanks to my daughter's advice, to a nearby Checkers which had fewer queues.

I am sure it is going to be better during the lock-down to go shopping, but we all want to stay home as much as possible.

We were supposed to be moving at the end of the month. That's been put on hold. As if moving is not stressful enough, we now have to contend with staying put. We can't move, and the people moving into our house, can't move. Our house is full of boxes, and it's in a mess.

I have been on leave to pack, but has heard today that I will be expected to come in to work as needed. The National Broadcaster has to continue, and we presume archive material will be needed. I am awaiting my letter to carry around with me. It is making me uncomfortable to think that we would be expected to produce proof of reason why we are on the road.

These are strange times indeed.

Miss Fine loves to stay home, and she has been in her element. Also watching too much of everything. I had her schedule a daily routine, but it made her anxious, so we told her to relax, and enjoy her holidays.

I am also supposed to be exercising, and packing, and doing things, but I can't show too much for every day. I will be good to myself, and give myself some grace during these extraordinary conditions.

I hope you will too?

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Gauteng Choristers Human Rights Concert - WIN TICKETS

Human Rights Concert poster
Human Rights Concert
The Gauteng Choristers celebrate Human Rights Day with a glorious two-day choral concert
POSTPONED FOR NOW!

Human Rights day is upcoming on 21 March. The Gauteng Choristers, alongside a 53-piece Orchestra, will commemorate the role of struggle stalwarts and the church with two cantatas performed on 20 – 21 March 2020 at the  Linder Auditorium at the Wits Education Campus in Parktown.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

New Food Lover's Market at Morning Glen Mall


Food Lovers's Market entrance
Food Lover's Market at Morning Glen Mall
Food lovers in the heart of Morningside, Morning Glen Mall, are in for a greater variety of food as Food Lovers Market opens.
Food Lovers's Market Farmer's Crop
Food Lovers's Market "Farmer's Crop"
I was most impressed last week with the offerings at Food Lover's Market at the revamped Morning Glen Mall. As a vegetarian I spend most of my food budget on vegetables, fruit, nuts and beans. The Morning Glen Mall has recognised the need to support the growing healthy living habits of the community. My list grew larger and larger while I was walking through the displays and shelves. The variety, freshness and healthy choices makes it easy for a one-stop shopping experience. Which I always try to do!

Friday, 21 February 2020

We sold our house, and we have to move soon

Bitmoji Karen du Toit: "Honey, I'm home!"
"Honey, I'm Home!"
Change is not easy. As much as we know we are working towards a larger goal, it is difficult to let go of our own space, and our stuff. We sold our house, and everything has moved much faster than expected. We have a month to find a new place.

I love my house. Even more so now that we are looking for other spaces to call home...
We are lucky that we found a buyer in the economic climate, and who gave us our asking price. But now we have to fit our stuff into a new smaller space which is not customized...

Breathe, Karen!

It will be okay!

Friday, 7 February 2020

A short drive for a great weekend break - Magaliespark

Magaliespark bucks
View from the chalet at Magaliespark
We haven't been away for quite a while. The last time was in 2017 when we had the holiday in Ballito. We desperately need a long break somewhere, but in the meantime this past weekend at Magaliespark helped with a bit lot of relaxing.

Magaliespark view over dam
Magaliespark view

We were pleasantly surprised by how lovely Magaliespark is. The greens, and the accommodation and the facilities... There is nothing like arriving at your chalet, being greeted by some wildlife, and the sun setting on a fire for the braai! (That's heaven!) The best is, we only had to drive for 45 minutes in Friday afternoon traffic! It's my dad's upcoming 81st birthday, and him and my mom are celebrating 54 years of marriage. He used his Holiday Club points for the weekend. Thanks, Dad!

Monday, 27 January 2020

We love Arctic Justice - WIN tickets

Arctic Justice poster
Arctic Justice in cinemas from 24 January 2020
Going to a cinema to see your favourite movie is still a great outing! Especially for the family. We saw Arctic Justice (see also Arctic Dogs or Polar Squad in other parts of the world) at Cedar Square yesterday morning. It is a sweet movie, with a number of life lessons thrown in the mix. The director is Aaron Woodley, with a great cast including Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, James Franco and John Cleese.

We have two tickets up for grabs for a reader of this blog. See below.