Homemade herbal cleaning products are mostly composed of just one main substance – the cleaning agent – which means that you’re not paying for bulking additives, artificial colours or perfumes. You can choose the type and strength of the scent you want; fresh herbs or essential oils almost invariably leave a delightfully fresh, clean smell.

cleaning with herbs
There is also gathering evidence that links the use of chemical cleaners such as bleach with the development of asthma in both children and adults. Some chemicals can set off allergic reactions or contact dermatitis in sensitive people. And one 2010 US study discovered that women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant had a higher incidence of birth defects in their children.

So, whether you’re already committed to a greener way of cleaning or you just want to save money and simplify your life a little, herbal cleaning makes a lot of sense.

Try these two recipes to clean your surfaces and floors, the easy way, with the power of herbs.

All-purpose herb vinegar spray
This all-purpose, environmentally friendly, non-toxic spray is great to have on hand for wiping, cleaning and deodorising almost every surface (except marble). If you don’t have any fresh herbs, add drops of essential oil instead.

fresh or dried herbs (you can also use herbal tea bags)
distilled white vinegar
Roughly chop 1 to 2 large handfuls of fresh or dried herbs (such as lemon verbena, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm or lavender), or place 5 to 10 tea bags in the bottom of a wide-mouthed glass jar.
Add vinegar to fill the jar. Replace the lid, leave for a few days to infuse, then strain out the herbs. (If you are using tea bags, you can gently warm the vinegar before pouring to ensure maximum diffusion.)
Decant into a plastic spray bottle. This spray is perfectly safe and very effective to use at full-strength, but it can also be diluted half-and-half with water for lighter jobs.
Eucalyptus floor wash
With its powerful natural antiseptic, disinfectant and cleaning properties, eucalyptus oil can be put to work in every room of the house. This simple solution can be used on both timber and lino floors. When washing a timber floor, remember not to saturate it. Your mop should be damp, not dripping wet, and the floor should be well-swept or vacuumed before mopping.

1 teaspoon eucalyptus oil
2 tablespoons methylated spirits
5 litres hot water (about half a bucket)
Combine all the ingredients in a bucket.
Wring out a mop in the solution and use it to damp mop the floor. Leave to dry; you don’t need to rinse



The team of Lunchbox Theatre spent an intensive 6 days rehearsing their new show, first time directed by someone who is not part of the team – the wonderful, nationally acclaimed theatre maker Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

This play is targeted at high school learners and adults, and aims to encourage people to get tested and know their HIV status. Something that can help people to make the right choices to live a long and healthy life. The story centres around 3 brothers who leave their rural homes to work on the mines in Jo’burg. Each embarks on their own journey of discovery as they face the many challenges they confront.

The cast of Mncedisi Ncedani, Amanda Valela, Gaillene Isaks, Siyabonga Zabo and Stuart Palmer all gained valuable experience working closely with Nhlanhla over the 6 days. The show will be polished over the next couple of weeks. Keep and eye on local press and our Facebook page for more info.This project is made possible with the generous support of the National Lotteries Commission.


Monday 1st February 2016
Downton Abbey – Series Six
Episode One of Eight
10H00 in Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Contact : Brenda Hardy 044-533-5489

Tuesday 2nd February 2016
Italian Conversation
10H00 at 12 Challenge Drive
Contact : Brenda Hardy 044-533-5489

Wednesday 3rd February 2016
The Bayeux Tapestry presented by David Hall-Green
DVD of the Battle of Hastings fought in 1066
10H00 in Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Contact : Lynette Timme 044-535-9041

Friday 5th February 2016
Tai Chi Class for U3A members
09H00 to 09H45 at St Peter’s Church Hall
Contact : Jennie Anderson 044-533-0089

Friday 5th February 2015
French Conversation
10H00 at 7 Glennifer Street
Contact : Merle Decot 044-533-5879

Friday 5th February 2015
Mah Jong : Ancient Game
13H30 in FGV Small Dining Room
Contact : Lyndsey Wright 044-533-3528



Cape Town – As part of their Travellers’ Choice Awards 2015, TripAdvisor recently released a list of the top 10 places to visit in South Africa, nine of which can be found in the Western Cape.

Robberg Nature Reserve – South Africa
The only destination outside of the province is Johannesburg, which features in the fifth position.

The destinations were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, attractions and restaurants in destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

Cape Town Central tops the list, followed by Knysna in second position and Franschhoek at number three.

The Mother City also found itself in the 10th position among TripAdvisor’s to 25 places to visit in 2015, beating popular urban destinations such as New York City, Barcelona, Dubai and Hong Kong to the top 10.

TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 315 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 200 million reviews and opinions covering more than 4.5 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions, operating in 45 countries worldwide.

The top 10 destinations in South Africa, according to these users are:

Cape Town,
Plettenberg Bay,
Camps Bay,
-the gremlin.co.za



Every dog has his day, so what’s more fun than a dog birthday party when it’s your adorable pooch’s turn? Whether you know the actual birth date or plan to celebrate in honor of the day your furry friend joined the family, a fabulous, Fido-themed fete is easy to pull off.

“Whether it’s a bark-mitzvah or adoption day celebration, a dog birthday party brings out your playfulness,” says Arden Moore, the author of “Dog Parties: How to Party With Your Pup.” “It’s all about celebrating the connection we have with our pets.” An awesome puppy-inspired party is a great chance for all your pet’s best friends (and their parents too!) to get together and have fun.

“Many people love to include cute, sweet touches related to their specific pet when planning a dog birthday party or will schedule games to play they know their dog loves, like bury the bone, Frisbee or pet swimming pool,” says Adina Slotsky, the founder and CEO of Hollywood Pet Parties.

If you’re looking for a barking good time for your dog’s birthday celebration, start with this puppy-approved list:

Canine Karaoke
“I offer up apologies to ‘American Idol’ every time we play this hysterical dog birthday party game,” says Moore, who suggests picking judges and having each dog come onstage with his owner, who serenade their dog to music. Points are awarded for overall performance and the dog’s response. Dogs can wear funny costumes or use props to add to the merriment.
Snoopy Says
This doggy adaptation of Simon Says follows the same rules. As the game progresses, tasks can become more and more challenging until there is one lucky winner left. “Dogs feel our happiness. This game provides a good way to sneak in training. Plus, you look like a rock star to your dog,” Moore says.
Musical Chairs for Mutts
Have everyone line up with their leashed dog in front of on-the-ground hula hoops. Make sure there’s one less hoop than there are dogs. Play “Who Let the Dogs Out” and when the music stops, each dog has to be sitting in a hoop along with their person’s foot or they’re out. When Pooch Comes to Shove goes the old-fashioned way, with chairs. “This is a fun way to reinforce the ‘sit’ command,”
Put a Stamp on It
Invite people and pups to come, sit and stay at the puppiest party of the year by sending invitations festooned with doggy postage stamps. Other cool ideas, like how to stuff a doggy bag with yummy treats, can be found at One Charming Party.

Get Themey
Why have a party when you can have a pawty? You really can’t overdo a dog party theme. Fetch bone-shaped placemats, decorated cupcakes and a cool banner. Catch My Party has a cute “hot dog” theme party.

Hats Off
What’s a party without silly hats? Nab a do-it-yourself version from B. Lovely Events. All you need is a printer.

Make It Personal
These personalized, handmade shirts for dogs from HeatherRogersDesigns include name, age and other doggy info, like only child or big sister status.

Turn Her Into a Puppy Princess
Dress up the birthday girl in a special pink outfit or a gold fantasy crown and purple tutu, as BeautybyParis does.
Decorate With Doggy Decor
Go all out with tablecloths, paper plates, bone-shaped snacks and paw-print napkins like the adorable picks from Top Party Ideas.

Bake Up a Batch of Pup Cakes
Who needs sugar when you can whip up peanut butter-frosted, dog-friendly cupcakes from The Scrumptious Pumpkin? All you need is 15 minutes, an egg, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, applesauce, brown rice flour and a few appreciative pups.
Go Gourmet
If your discerning dog is the sophisticated sort, go for an assortment of puppy treats from Woofables gourmet dog bakery, like “lollipups,” s’mores and hot dog biscuits. Hostess With the Mostess has great ideas for your “doggy bag” favors for your human guests.

Dog Necessities
A little poop may fall, so provide guests with cute, bone-shaped poop bag dispensers and colorful bags to make the inevitable accident less tragic



Underpinning the Knysna Literary Festival, the Garden Route’s premier literary event, is the ethos that the local community should benefit from the educational and cultural benefits and economic opportunities the festival brings.


Where possible, support services are sourced from within Knysna and festival venues are selected with the purpose of showcasing the town’s hospitality infrastructure and celebrated natural settings. The festival donates approximately 30% of its revenue from ticket sales to local charities that focus on childhood development and education, a percentage they look to grow in future.

Now in its seventh year, the festival aims to promote South Africa’s rich literary heritage thanks to a diverse programme that includes current affairs, politics, history and adventure literature. The festival has grown rapidly in recent years as has its commitment to education. Unique literary experiences offer attendees and the community various opportunities to engage with authors and experts on both popular and scholarly topics, by means of workshops, presentations and informal discussions.

In 2015 nearly 1000 learners attended the Children’s Theatre performance while the Young Writers’ Competition – which attracts entries in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa from rural schools – has increased in support.

Important components of the festival’s outreach programme are the FundZa writing workshops and a mentoring programme funded by the National Arts Council (NAC). A non-profit organisation, FundZa is dedicated to fostering a culture of reading and writing among underprivileged South African youth, aged 13 between 25, from under-resourced communities.

With a mission to build a culture of reading and writing, FundZa develops the country’s future writers by exposing communities to quality content in unconventional mobile media, enabling prospective writers to publish their stories while facilitating dialogue and communication.

FundZa’s mobi-network has a reach of more than 350 000 youngsters with participants posting more than 100 comments daily, indicative of a highly engaging platform.
As there are very few books that reflect the reality faced by youths in under-resourced communities, FundZa doesn’t use texts that are unappealing to potentially reluctant readers. Instead, they facilitate the creation of locally produced content that is relatable to the audience and stories that reflect the issues and ambitions that many young people face.

In the Mentoring Our Future Writers Project, young writers are paired with experienced authors with each pair having to write a set of short stories that are linked to one other in some way. Both parties give feedback to one another on their stories, with young writers gaining support while mentors gain insights from younger and often trendier mentees.

According to the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), 43 percent of South African Grade 5 learners’ reading skills were lower than that of the international expectation on a Grade 4 level – a finding that ranked the country as the lowest of all participants in the study. Within this context organisations such as FundZa, who approach literacy issues in an innovative manner, are essential to improve national proficiency in reading and writing.

This NAC funded collaboration with FundZa is a boon for the Knysna Literary Festival, adding gravitas to its commitment to education and training of the local community, where other similar ventures are more focused on the bottom line and corporate sponsorships.

The seventh annual Knysna Literary Festival will take place from Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20, 2016.