All posts by Debbie

Fill up for Christmas!

Here are a few ideas for Christmas gifts and additions to your celebratory meals that you can get through the Meadowridge GFC for our November/December order! We all want to support small, local businesses at this time of the year.

So, here goes:

  • MY FAVE: Give a beautiful glass jar of Trump and Timbal coffee – available in 350g or 800g. You can choose between their Uganda Budisu or their special Yuletide Blend which is limited to this Christmas season. This is the perfect gift for a brother, colleague or friend!
  • Chocolate! The CocoaFair slabs, chocolate covered nuts and dried fruit make the perfect hostess gift or stocking filler.
  • I love to give the Pure Beginnings bubble bath as a pressie for kids or a stocking filler (the insect repellent spray is also a super summer win!). Why not  order their new range of Body Lotions and Washes as gifts?
  • Fill up those snack bowls with dried fruit and nuts – you are unlikely to find them at a better price somewhere else! Filling a jar with oven roasted pecans makes a lovely homemade gift!
  • Fudge would make such a fun table setting gift, because really, who doesn’t love fudge?!
  • Fill a jar or festive bag with some delicious droewors or biltong from Ryan Boon. The venison biltong is a new favourite of mine!
  • Christmas Meat – get the best tasting free range, grass-fed, hormone free meat for your Christmas dinner and lunch! Rack of lambleg of lambfillet or rib eye steaksturkeyduckgammonpork belly or spare ribs. You can also get our delicious Farmer Angus steaks.
  • Cold meats, pates and hummus could all add to a decadent starter for one of your festive meals, along with some corn chips.
  • Honey – tie a ribbon around a jar of raw honey as a gift that would please any foodie.
  • Fill up your salt and pepper cellars with GMO free spices.
  • It’s a good idea to keep a stash of frozen berries in the freezer so that you have them to hand to warm up and spoon over ice cream or use in other Christmas puddings and cakes.
  • Cherries – beautiful on a pavlova, ice cream, or simply as a tasty table decoration.
  • Cookie decorating kits! What a fun family activity (or gift) to do together, and form connection over, this year
  • Don’t forget the ultimate heart behind Christmas – giving. Why not give a R30 donation to Hands and Feet.

Have a blessed and restful Christmas season everyone!

Ryler’s birth, 6 years on

I can’t find an account of Ryler’s birth. Maybe I’ve told the story in my head so may times I’ve convinced myself I’ve jotted it down, but while sharing my birth stories with a new friend recently, I couldn’t find his. So, today seemed like a good day to wrack these old brand cells and get it down on ‘paper’.

I was 40 weeks and 3 days and we were getting anxious. My husband had what was possibly the most prestigious speaking engagement mere days away. He was the selected student speaker for his 2014 graduating class at Regent College. He was speaking the Friday. Today was the Monday. He had told me that he was not going to miss the honour of speaking to his graduating class, and so we needed to get birth a-happening. I still question him on the authenticity of that statement, but he sticks to it.

So we did. If my memory serves me correctly, I had an appointment with my midwife that morning, who performed a solid stretch and sweep, I had induction massage, induction acupuncture, ate a crap load of pineapple, took evening primrose oil (both ways!), went for walks, ordered curry from the takeaway spot across the road and had sex. Comeaaaaaan cervix. We wanted this baby OUT. The induction acupuncture included burning Chinese herbs by my toes – we weren’t messing around.

The following morning I woke up at 4:30am with a sharp pain in my back. YES! Things were happening. I jumped up, grabbed my lower back mouthing a silent ‘OW!’ and made my way to the bathroom, thinking that I’d let Theran sleep, because labouring moms are awesome like that. 2 more sharp contractions frighteningly close together and I realised that, nope, aint no-one gonna let Theran sleep. So I woke him up.

I remember the next hour in a blur of: calling my friend Amy to watch our sleeping Clayden, calling the Doula to meet us at home, I think I hopped in the bath and chatted to an on-call midwife (a locum who I hadn’t met) telling her things were happening. Important point to note in the story: the locum asked us to call her back when we decided to head to the hospital. (Which, spoiler, we didn’t). My Monday of desperately wanting labour to get going was coming thick and fast. As if all our labour inducing techniques were about 12 hours delayed and then hit at once. BAHM. No time to breathe, no time to think, and no break from INTENSE back labour.

What followed, was something about Amy arriving, knowing this was in FULL BLOWN labour, a TENS machine on my back, our doula arriving, coffee in hand and eyes wide, her holding me while Theran packed the car, and her following us to the hospital. My contractions did.not.stop.

Bad baaaaad words came out my mouth as Theran raced through red lights. My membranes ruptured spontaneously in the back of the car at 45th and Cambie. In my Lululemon pants no less. And this was not a waters-breaking ‘trickle’ situation. No, no, the word gushing comes to mind – pouring, streaming – a real bold waters-breaking experience.

Theran screeched up to BC Women’s and I waddled into Emergency as if the baby was half out already. A first time mom was being admitted and the staff taking one look at me yelled ‘multip?’ and I screamed ‘YES!’ (as in, not my first baby) and I was ushered ahead, straight into a curtained off section, and a nurse rushed in to check me. I begged her not to check how far I was dilated and promised her I was 10cm. Promised. I may have even offered her some bribe to send me straight to delivery but, I knew she had to check. Shoes kicked off, and pants pulled down and fully dilated I was. To this day I have no idea how they (my shoes and pants) made their way back to me (I’m presuming my doula had eyes on it all).

10cm dilated, with my doula holding my hand and Theran still in admitting, I was wheeled up to delivery. I remember VIVIDLY, gripping the rails on the bed SCREAMING while the elevator climbed floors slower than a snail could’ve crawled them. The car trip, the 10cm, the elevator pinging in slow motion – this is the stuff movies are made of, man.

Into the delivery room I was wheeled and my doula ran the bath (ah, doulas). I was GBS positive so needed an antibiotic drip. (CONTRACTION). Also, where was Theran and my midwife? (CONTRACTION). A little lady walked in, (CONTRACTION) saying she was going to cover for my midwife until she arrived (CONTRACTION), and that she specialised in premature babies and I could hop (CONTRACTION) into the bath (CONTRACTION) once my midwife had arrived. (CONTRACTION)… you get the idea.

Side note: we now refer to contractions as surges (hypnobirthing-style) but back then these bad boys were full speed, cranked up, non stop, knock you over CON-TRAC-TIONS.

Theran ran into the room, I squirmed on the bed through what seemed like a never ending stream of relentless back stabbing; up, down, squatting, lying, standing, squatting, all 4’s, squatting, groaning, moaning, screaming… contraction, contraction, contraction. The concentration of oxytocin was overachieving that day. Finally, my midwife ran in. She slid behind the foot of the bed with her hands open as if to catch the babe. I saw her and in my not-so-finest moment yelled “WHERE the HELL have you been!?” (something we laughed about after, considering we were the ones who forgot to call her back). She chuckled (we love midwives). I hopped in the bath. With a nurse trying to put the antibiotic IV in my hand to distract me (she kept asking me if she should and I kept asking for the distraction) within minutes he was born, in water. This perfect chubby little boy. Our Ryler Cael Knighton-Fitt. At 6:30am, Tuesday 29th April at BC Women’s in Vancouver, Canada.

At that very minute, birthing Ryler was the most knock-the-world-off-its-axis moment. I had so much adrenalin pumping through me. I felt like an absolute hero. I loved Clayden’s birth – it was, after all, what inspired me to become a doula – but this was so different. A wild ride of raw hormones, emotion, disbelief and massive, MASSIVE adrenalin. And within (what felt like) minutes, I was up, showering, breastfeeding, calling family, having mates arrive, enjoying a hot coffee (post birth request – a good coffee) and then I took a nap. Ah, I was in post-partum heaven. I was so proud of US.

We made it to Theran’s convocation, as a family of 4, with a 3 day old on my chest. As you might know, that 3rd day is quite something. With milk coming in, and hormones peaking, emotions POURED out of my eyes, as I watched my husband speak to his graduating class, graduate with a double major, and receive 2 awards we did not know he would be the recipient of, chosen for him by his professors and Regent faculty. I don’t think I’ve EVER cried as much as I did that night (oh no wait, maybe during my marathon, I may have cried as much during my marathon).

And that, my little Rylie pops, is how you were born. Damn, your birth was epic and you made me feel like a champion – that car ride to the hospital is something I will never, ever forget. I’m also really grateful for your super speedy arrival. Thanks for that.

I love you my little bud. Thanks for joining our family.

x

Who wouldn’t want black things floating in their drinking water?

My first introduction to charcoal was back in Vancouver (many of my interesting ‘green-introductions’ took place there). My colleague and I made homemade mascara – with activated charcoal tablets and egg yolk. I mixed it up and kept it in an old mascara bottle in the fridge – to this day it was one of the best mascara’s I’ve used – no racoon eyes and no nasty chemicals. Simple as.

Then the words activated charcoal moved amongst the gut-health circles. My littlie, with her ‘me me me’ 3rd child tendencies, likes to chomp on the activated charcoal tablets when she sees me taking them. Mother-daughter bonding – black teeth and all. I’ve never tried the charcoal for whitening teeth – but should I find an extra few hours in a day I’ll be sure to give it a go.

Last year, after putting it off for sooooo long (and with 4 minor, but major-enough-to-be-anxious-about health concerns demanding my attention) I went for a check up. I found the BEST Women’s Wellness Holistic doc who is a Homeopath & Integrative GP. She BLEW MY MIND (but that’s another post altogether). In the waiting room at  White Lotus Wellness Center on Kloof Street Cape Town, I spotted a branch of charcoal swimming in a beautiful vase of water. I LOVE finding myself in spaces where there is more than one connection. Awesome Wellness Center – beautiful space – charcoal filtered water – salt lamps etc. It really is affirmation of my inner greenie. Naturally, I poured myself some water because I’ve always been intrigued by the benefits of charcoal filtered water and wanted to try some.

To be honest – it tasted like regular water, but JUST BETTER. But that’s the thing with nature and health and enabling things which bring life – often it isn’t a HUGE BIG DEAL. It’s normal, and it’s awesome.

I know there were concerns about bugs creeping into our water systems due to the low water levels in our dams around Cape Town over the last few years. I don’t know if this is true or not, but buying bottled water became the go-to. I researched water filters but never got around to getting one because they’re pretty pricy and, urgh, I don’t know, it just seemed like a pretty big investment and with the impending 3 x school fees I was about to pay it just kept getting nudged down the list of priorities.

Then KURO-Bō sent me my own pack to try. Like a gift from the Heavens. KURO-Bō is a 100% natural water filter, and it was easy as pie to get going. You simply boil the Kōins on the stove for 10 minutes and then pop them into your bottle of water. Ideally you let it sit for 3 hours (for maximum effect) but it’s good to drink immediately too. I need to boil these Kōins every month for 3 months and then replace them.

HEALTH & ECO BENEFITS

This innovative ancient natural water filtration technology, used for centuries in Japan (“Binchotan”), is unlike any traditional filter available today – both in terms of health benefits, as well as its incredible eco-friendly credentials.

Essentially nature’s own toxin magnet, KURO-Bō is a unique 100% natural, recyclable and plastic-free filter made of pure activated charcoal. KURO-Bō Activated Charcoal has undergone rigorous scientific testing (by SANAS), affirming its successful capacity for:

  • toxin, chemical and bacterial adsorption and removal from contaminated water
  • balancing an acidic pH of spiked water
  • enriching tap water with beneficial essential minerals.

Then today, I popped into Nourish’d Cape Town and there again – was the Kuro-Bo charcoal sticks in a big glass of water looking all earthy and awesome. So guys, get on it. Naturally filtered water on the go, any place, any time – try it!

 

Have you met Mr. Brown Mouse?

A few weeks ago I was introduced to Jono, a friend of a friend who has the most incredibly heart warming story. He and his wife have 2 children, born 1 year apart. His daughter Hannah is 6 and his son Tate is 5. Understandably life was busy with 2 kids under 2, but even more so with the growing concern that something wasn’t quite right with their son. After a diagnosis of Tate’s Autism Spectrum Disorder, parenting took on a whole new meaning. While the diagnosis was a shock, Jono and his wife were relieved to have some answers and pave the way ahead for their precious boy.

Along with a difficult diagnosis, Tate needed additional time, energy and attention and both Jono and his wife were stressed, and to be honest, exhausted (as ANY parent can imagine). His wife was also not well at the time which added to the exhaustion of every day.

 

With everything that comes along with such a diagnosis (despite the emotional toll), seeing specialists, special needs school, new financial pressures, and the demand both of their jobs had on them, they noticed that their daughter was also starting to take strain (she was around 3 at the time). Her brother couldn’t talk, he screamed a lot wasn’t able to play with her in ways we would presume normal. They realised that Hannah was aware of the pressure they were under and needed some extra time and attention too. Based on all this Jono started spending more intentional time with Hannah telling her bedtime stories, helping her try to relax and unwind at the end of the day. Jono and his wife would alternate nights putting each kid to sleep. (I mean if you’re a parent reading this, you can feel the immense demand on them can’t you?)

Hannah soon began asking for more and more of Jono’s imaginary stories and so after a while (still with no plan to do anything with them) he started recording them onto his phone as he told them. The character of Mr Brown Mouse became the hero of the stories. While story-telling, he would always include a positive message, something that Hannah could relate to with what their family was going through at that time. He included themes such as a willingness to try, courage, a sense of adventure, friendship, being helpful and positive etc. It was a gentle but strong message that even in the midst of the hardest challenges or experiences that Mr Brown Mouse was going through, ‘everything was going to be okay’.

It was here that Jono stumbled upon the unsuspecting benefit in keeping the story recordings on his phone. On the nights where he and his wife were just too tired or needed to give extra time to Tate (or even take some much needed time for themselves) they could ask Hannah which story she wanted and she could listen. It is a beautiful picture – the image of Hannah and her mom or dad lying next to her, intentionally being together, listening to stories, but without the pressure of being ‘on’. The value and relief for them was life changing!

With the discovery of what a gift this was to their family, Jono began to wonder if he could do something with the stories and if other children (and parents!) might appreciate them. This was when the idea of creating audio books came to mind. Working in TV advertising meant that he had plenty of experience working with voice over artists, music and sound effects. He re-wrote and refined the stories, received outsiders opinions as to how best to tweak them and the rest is history. It truly is a beautiful outlet for his whole family to embrace any fears, challenges and the unknown as they walk this journey.

In his own words, “Our hope is to first and foremost be an awesome source of help to parents who might find themselves in a similar space to us and occasionally need to take a moments rest in the midst of the busyness. We also hope to be helpful to children with (even in a small way) helping them see that everything is going to be okay; that everyday is a possibility for adventure, and that it’s good to help others, to care and to always try, especially when things are hard“. Jono De Canha.

A personal review: So, that’s the beautiful story behind the audio books, but I’m not lying when I say, since putting them on one night for the kids, my boys have asked for them EVERY NIGHT since – no word of a lie. They have been an enormous hit, and I’m desperate for Jono to release some more!!

You can buy these (instantly downloadable) audio books for R29.95 each or R149,95 for the set of 6. The MP3 can be saved to your itunes library for quick and easy access. Each story contains originally written and scored music, professional voice overs with multiple characters, age-appropriate sound effects and comes with a full colour illustrated ‘cover art’ for the MP3. (Pics in this blog post)

***

Here are some summaries of the first 6 stories:

1) MR BROWN MOUSE MEETS MRS GIRAFFE

11:15 minutes

Mr Brown Mouse rides on the back of ditsy Mrs Hippo and crosses the river for the VERY FIRST TIME! Join him as he crosses paths with crocodiles, elephants and lions and makes friends with the tallest animal he’s ever seen!  A gentle first adventure, perfect for bedtime.

2) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE BIG BIG FIRE

11:00 minutes

Join Mr Brown Mouse on a courageous adventure to help save the animals and the forest from a big, big fire! With a little bit of thought and a sincere desire to help, almost anything is possible… But who will help Mr Brown Mouse when all the animals are running away?  Listen again and again to this daring story of courage and character!

3) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE OWL BABIES

11:06 minutes

After waiting THIRTY DAYS, Mr and Mrs Owl’s babies are ready to hatch! It’s terribly exciting and Mr Brown Mouse wouldn’t miss it for the world… after all, Mr Owl is his first ever friend!


4) MR BROWN MOUSE’S FAMILY IS COMING TO VISIT

12:00 minutes

Mr Brown Mouse’s family are coming to visit but he’s out of Honey Biscuits and tea! What will he do? Would he dare to ride on the back of big, old Mr Crocodile, all the way down the river to get more? Who will he meet on the way?

5) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE OSTRICH EGG

11:45 minutes

Mr Brown Mouse finds an egg! A VERY BIG EGG! It’s even bigger than he is! What will he do and how will he find it’s mum.  And can he stop Mrs Hippo from accidentally sitting on it?

11:45 duration with wonderful character voices, sound effects, music and narration.

6) MR BROWN MOUSE & THE BEAR

10:13 minutes

In his most daring and epic adventure yet, Mr Brown Mouse soars on the back of Mrs Eagle! Join him as he travels over the mountains to visit his old friend Mr Bear. But will Mr Brown Mouse be able to wake Mr Bear up.

Our favourite things – products & recipes recommended by MGFC members

I run a Good Food Club – which is essentially a monthly buying club from our home in Cape Town. We facilitate Farm-to-Table style living by supporting, for the most part, local, sustainable, natural/organic style small businesses.

We have the most incredible families who participate in this club. With over 800 products available to purchase, we have so many different styles and intentions when shopping. From hormone free meat, to grass fed farm butter, to chemical free cleaning detergents and menstrual cups.

Last month I asked my members to share what they loved buying from the Good Food Club and why… and this was what I received back.

From Debbie Knighton-Fitt (me!):

So you know I’ve always been a greenie right? It’s pretty much the reason I started the GFC.

So here are my non-negotiables, every month…

Butter, Eggs, Swiss Cellar – pickled onions and jams (once you start, you LITERALLY can’t stop), strawberry yoghurt, mozzarella cheese (for pizzas). Cake flour (we make a lot of pancakes and pizza bases), beef mince, mango strips (my absolute spoil), oh mega peanut butter, and my (fantastic!) new wellness doc really recommends Superfoods’ Super Thrive Women.

We eat the chicken burgers once a week, as well as boerewors for braais, and nachos with the corn chips. Another spoil is the (chocolate and) hot chocolate from cocoafair (YUM!). We buy 5 packs of salami and freeze them, and take them out when needed. It is THE most delicious salami I’ve ever tasted. I always buy frozen blueberries, strawberries and plain yoghurt for smoothies. The honey is a must, I love the spices (mainly cinnamon and cumin) and Eikelaan & Metro Organics fresh produce! I try get my hands on as much organic fresh produce as possible. I also buy the salmon now (due to Cara’s influence) and eat it with my 2 year old to get some good omegas into her.

A few other favourites: fresh organic coriander, quinoa, dates and raisins (for lunch boxes), halloumi spring rolls (YUM!) and 1kg cashew nuts when I’m feeling flush.

Body products: Love the Pure Beginnings range for us all, the natural deo (is incredible!) and I cannot CANNOT recommend the menstrual cup enough. If you’ve ever thought about buying one, DO it.

From Lauren Potgieter:

I love buying the angelfish for Jamie Oliver’s FISH PIE. It’s full of good things like carrots, spinach and boiled eggs (weird I know, but it works) and if you don’t want to use double cream you can use double cream yoghurt instead.

From Cara Eachus:

Salmon offcuts: I use it often in pastas and with scrambled eggs or on a sandwich with cream cheese and cucumber.

I also do the venison-droewors-in-the-freezer-trick for lunch boxes. It defrosts super quickly though so I keep it in the freezer and just take out little bits each evening when I make the boys’ lunch.

I do a yum meal with the pork fillet. I make a chutney by frying a diced onion, a clove or two of crushed garlic, thyme and some grated apple then smoothing that onto puff pastry. Searing the fillet in the pan and then placing that into the pastry and baking it for about 30 minutes. A delicious meal! 

The strawberry JAM! I am never going back. It is to die for. Also a big thumbs up to the raw creamed honey, one of my faves. I love a spoon in a banana smoothie or on toast.

A little treat is the edible flowers. I add them into ice cube trays to make interesting ice or top baked goods with them. For Harry’s dedication tea I even added them on top of sandwiches.

The frozen berries which are so extremely well priced are used in smoothies, Harry’s fruit purees and in muffins or cakes. At Christmas I made a big sorbet with them.

I really love the halloumi. I fry slices in lemon juice and place on top of vegetable pastas (I try make meatless meals at least twice a week) or eat as a snack.

The eggs and venison mince are also well priced and make many good healthy meals with those good proteins. I have recently started buying the boerewors and pork sausages (both delicious!) and make a sausage pie with them or use them for bangers and bash otherwise boerie rolls. I used the lamb stew meat last night in a tomato bredie – oh my yum – but am definitely keen to try the chuck stewing meat next time.

From Jolene Bonney:

I love the venison mince. My two favorite dishes are Keftedes with Tzatziki (Jono makes the most amazing greek yoghurt that we use for this) and the other dish I use it for is a venison mousaka. If we need a quick and easy dinner I make a halloumi cheese salad and throw in a generous amount of blueberries too.

I’ve included the keftedes recipe:

Venison Keftedes 

  • 3 slices bread (I use oats instead)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons finely fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (3 tablespoons if using fresh)
  • 500grams venison
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • flour for dusting

Method:

1) soak oats in milk and eggs for a little

2) mix everything else in

3) let the mix sit for about an hour

4) roll into small balls

5) dust with flour

6) fry in olive oil

From Garth Stephenson:

So here is what I generally do with the stewing meat I buy from you:

Brown the following in a large pot

Once the meat is browned, add the following:

  • ½ cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • ½ pack of mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 x tomatoes, chopped or 1 can of diced tomato mix
  • 2 x table spoons of balsamic vinegar
  • ½ x bottle of wine, red or white (I prefer red)
  • ½ l water
  • Mixed herbs and rosemary to flavour (fresh or dried)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to flavour
  • A dash of tobasco sauce

Bring to the boil, and then let simmer on lowest heat for 1-2 hours (depending on how hungry I am). Stir regularly and add more water/wine if liquid boils off.

Before serving, add beef stock and let simmer for 10 minutes.

From Yvette Newton:

Chuck stewing is great for beef bourginon, tomato bredie, wraps with warm veg and hummus. It also goes quite far if you use a tomato base and add veg/beans etc.

Mince – I buy 2kgs and then make bulk meatballs and freeze. Each 500grams is used for a meal – spaghetti bolognaise, nachos, meatballs mash and veg, burgers.

Rib stewing is good for potjie. We make it once a month during winter.

Salami packs are great for quick lunches and pizza toppings.

From Michelle Gibbs:

Venison sliced biltong, it’s a WIN, gonna try order more and keep half frozen next time I think but very happy with it so far!

Pork fillet 👌🏼 drizzle with oil, sprinkle herbs & oven roast 180 degrees, 20-30min’ serve with mash/veggies etc & gravy. Delicious! We cook it on braai too with marinade, its always a win 🙂

Desiccated coconut, amazing price, great for crunchies!

Stir fry greens, delicious sliced & thrown in at end of stir fry

Nu Eco dishwashing liquid, works brilliantly, I’ve tried a few earth friendly and this is by far my fave. Great smell & bubbles, cleans excellently & MGFC price is fab! Natural deo works really well.

Treat: I love white choc covered hazel nuts.

Crunchies:

  • 250g butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1tbspn golden syrup/honey
  • 1tspn bicarb

Melt in microwave approx 1min (or stove top!)

Mix in:

Combine well, spoon into greased baking tray.

Oven 180 for 15 – 20min.

When remove from oven immediately divide into blocks with spatula in tray, leave to cool in tray.

Pancakes:

Combine well, ladle onto hot oiled frying pan, spread around & fry, flip & fry until done 😉

Thank you to everyone who sent in their suggestions! Enjoy your shopping and your cooking xxx

 

Have you met Finn & Fern yet?

Pure Beginnings, South Africa’s most trusted organic baby and kids’ brand, is proud to announce the launch of their newest product, their certified organic kids Fun Time Conditioning Shampoo with marula oil.

This latest addition to the Pure Beginnings brand is the perfect natural alternative to comparative conventional hair care offerings for children. Formulated specifically with children in mind, the Fun Time Conditioning Shampoo is extremely mild and does not contain parabens, silicones, sulphates, colourants or synthetic fragrances. Perfect for everyday use, it’s ideal for children with a normal to dry scalp. The shampoo helps maintains the natural moisture of the scalp and its rich lather won’t irritate little eyes, so bath time tears are kept at bay.

“This conditioning shampoo provides a gentle, all-in-one shampoo, and it completes our range of safe and effective hair care products for the whole family”.

Natural Oils which complement the hair and scalp:

Pure Beginnings always considers the impact that its products have on the natural environment of the skin and hair. Their new, all-in-one conditioning shampoo contains Marula oil, organic baobab fruit extract, organic aloe and organic Rooibos. The mild surfactants do not strip the hair of natural oils, and each of the ingredients used plays an important role in ensuring the skin and scalp are nurtured and protected. Marula oil assists in sealing damaged hair strands and locking in moisture, baobab fruit extract nourishes dry hair, whilst organic aloe aids in calming and soothing the scalp.

“This Conditioning Shampoo has been specially formulated for children of all ages. Safe for even the most sensitive skin and scalp, you can use it with complete peace of mind, no matter the age of your child”, says Bruce Moore-Gordon, owner of Pure Beginnings.

“As a brand, we are committed to providing safe, effective and convenient products for the whole family, whilst still ensuring all our ingredients are of an organic and natural origin”, he continues.

Natural Ingredients:

Marula Oil is high in the antioxidants Vitamin C and E, as well as oleic acid, and helps to seal damaged hair and lock in moisture.

Organic Baobab Fruit Extract acts as a natural conditioner for the hair and scalp. It helps to detangle and moisturise dry hair.

Organic Aloe helps to soothe and calm the scalp.

Pure Beginnings Fun Time Conditioning Shampoo is certified organic with Ecocert, has sustainably sourced its ingredients through Phytrotrade Africa and is Vegan accredited. Available at Baby City, Takealot, Wellness Warehouse, Faithful-to-Nature and leading independent health stores.

Celebrating Murder Mystery Style

While our family really enjoy celebrating and instilling family traditions, we are not the best at our own birthday parties. Kids parties we kick ass at (did you see the weather change for the most gorgeous bike park party as if it was controlled by my very own hand?), but when it comes to the hub and I, our birthdays seem to pass us by without much intention…

But this year – oh this year.

An old friend of mine, Lisa, has recently revived her passion for Murder Mystery Dinners (more-so helping others create them), and while I’d heard of them I didn’t know much about them. Hidden somewhere in the ice cream tubs of memories from our early 20’s (shoved to the back of the study) there are pics of my hubby at a Murder Mystery Dinner with our Durban crew (obviously before I arrived on the scene). This year, Theran’s birthday was conveniently timed with the release of Lisa’s Murder Mystery DIY ebook. I immediately downloaded the ebook and said to the hub – “Let’s do THIS for your birthday!”. Fuuuuuun (and finally I get to participate in one this time). Sold!

We settled on a few close friends (following the suggested best number of guests the ebook had mentioned), saved the date and immediately anticipation began building. Stoked!

3 weeks, winter school holidays, work deadlines, a weekend away, and a Good Food Club complete, it was suddenly the Monday before the dinner. Knowing it was screaming its urgency on my mental to-do list, in a flat panic I messaged Lisa. Something along the lines of “ummmmm hi there, so finally got down to the Murder Mystery Dinner and, well ummm, I’m a little confused, and I think I need to know more than I do and fumble fumble fumble, waffle waffle waffle, HELP!”. A few voice notes back and forth (Lisa must have heard the panic in my voice) she offered to come over to chat to both Theran and I about how to host a stellar Murder Mystery. With the kids in bed and chocolate croissants in the oven, Lisa arrived, armed with EVERY-THING we needed (enthusiasm to match) for our very first Murder Mystery Dinner.

Premise explained, printables provided, characters developed – we were SET UP (let’s not joke around, if you’re hosting one of these things, you gotta be on the ball). We received from her – her flagship Print-and-Play game (avail from her for R299), menu suggestions, name cards, tips and tricks, props – everything we needed, not only to make it look gorgeous, but also professional and something you can’t help but buy into.

Hold up! What exactly is a Murder Mystery dinner you may be asking? 

Well… in the simplest terms a murder mystery dinner is a themed dinner party that involves dressing up, acting and detecting which guest is the killer by the close of the game. Someone (not present at the party… duh!) has been killed, and someone attending the party did it (ahhh, gasp, shock, horror!). No one but the host knows who the murderer is, and secrets are revealed throughout the night with clues as to who it is. Props give away clues, guesses are made, crazy confessions come to light, and the murderer is finally revealed!

Terrified?

I’ll be honest, some friends were nervous. So was I – my character was French and I’m the worst accents person ever. Ever. But that’s all part of the fun – wangling my way through an evening where while being born in France, my nomadic parents travelled when I was young and my accent was misplaced by our numerous international adventures and and and (all made up – you get the idea).

And we had a BALL. What a fun, bizarre, hysterical, and unforgettable evening. My mom helped with the food so that it was less pressure for us to do that, and set up, and be in character (we have 3 small kids remember, nothing happens ‘easily’).

I was totally blown away by how incredibly well some friends embraced their characters and chirps were flowing (as was the wine and homemade Whisky cream liqueur)… It can be trying for some to get into character, and the best way to do that is for the evening itself to be well organised, create a legit environment and have your guests know this is for REAL. (Once the murderer is revealed, you can then break character).

KEEN?

If you’re at ALL interested in hosting a Murder Mystery Dinner, OR trying one out at a corporate function (oh my hat sooooo much fun!), I really would recommend you contact Lisa Aspeling.

I’d encourage you to firstly, download the ebook, take a peek at the website, join her closed group on Facebook – The Murder Mystery Guide Dinner Club – or you can contact her directly:

Possible ways of getting started: 

  • Download the ebook and follow the tips to developing your own story.
  • Purchase Lisa’s Print-and-Play game (R299).
  • Contact Lisa about a Weekend Workshop where she will help you put your own custom-made murder mystery together, as well as the opportunity to experience one yourself (R1500, includes private dining restaurant dinner for murder mystery (cash bar) Places are limited.)

Contact Lisa Aspeling: 072 372 8620 or email lisa@murdermysteryguide.com.

Lisa has over 10 years’ experience playing murder mystery dinner games she’s written herself, games she’s co-written and dinners where she’s been just an ordinary guest.

GO FOR IT! It really is such a fun experience and something so different to your usual sit down dinner! You won’t regret it.

Remembering Clay’s Birth… 6 Years On

My eldest turned 6 today. Remembering my kids’ birth consumes me. I find it so hard to go through the day without reminiscing moment-for-moment how those days unfolded and what took place, in the minute that corresponds.

I remember reading a friends account of her first baby’s birth. She is not even a ‘journal-type-person’ but she jotted it down. I’m sure I’ve written about Clay’s birth somewhere, but moving across the world and the emotions of wrapping up a life you loved to journey into a future of unknowns encourages the losing of such things. So, here is my feeble attempt, 6 years on, to recall that day. The day I became a mother.

It was the Scotiabank half marathon and I was 39 weeks pregnant to the day. We had friends running, so got up early to support. I was extremely whale-like but I love half marathons and was envious and wanted to support our friends. I remember STRUGGLING to keep up, dashing in the car, driving to the next spot, trying to find parking en route, hopping out the car, rushing to the street to track the guys, running back to the car – I was aching at every move. I literally could not MOVE MY LEGS fast enough. At one point I kept the car running while my friend went to spot her hubby because it felt like a baby would drop out of me if I wasn’t careful. It was cruel – my body was just not managing.

Fast forward to lunch with my cousin and her kids, chatting over cake and imagining a baby and how long it would take for him to arrive (suspecting, like ‘most first borns’ he’d be late)…

Later that evening Theran was watching Battle Star Gallactica (a series I had no interest in watching), and I was watching some other series – each on a laptop in bed. Around 11pm, I got up and went to the bathroom. In the bathroom, my waters broke. After the shock of realising what had happened, I noticed that there was meconium in my waters. I breathed, walked back to our bedroom and waved at Theran from the bedroom door (our room was carpeted, and he had his headphones in). After about 5 seconds of frantic waving and anxiety building, I caught his eye, and told him my waters had broken. He jumped up.

I went into adrenalin overload. Shivering. Naked. More waters, more meconium.

Theran phoned the midwife. We’d meet at the hospital in half an hour. Sitting on the edge of the bath in a gown. Prayers on the couch. Calmly we packed the car. Excitement. More adrenalin.

We Skyped my parents in South Africa in the car on the way to the hospital. We knew meconium meant things would be moved a little faster, and more than likely a baby was going to be born in the next 24hrs.

I remember arriving, checking in and being hooked up to a monitor and watching my contractions (which were totally manageable so I was stoked). I had to pee in a cup, and was then induced. My midwife leant down and in my ear she whispered “Sweetheart, 9 out of 10 women will take an epidural when induced like you’re about to be, go easy on yourself”.

I laboured for 7 incredible hours. 7 undeniably life-altering hours. On the toilet, on a birth ball, squatting, standing. Walking, groaning, the induction smacking me across the face with peaks the size of mountains and the depths the size of puddles. The chemical version of oxytocin my heart was furiously pumping through my body was unlike anything I could have imagined. We called the anaesthetist. A mere 15 minutes later, I was numb. And I came back to life. Seems my body was fighting itself, and I dilated to 10cm almost as instantaneously as the epidural took effect (that’s pretty instantaneous in birth time).

I remember Theran adjusting the video camera (he’s a filmmaker). I remember it was calm, it was dim, it was quiet. It was 7 in the morning, we were chatting, and the staff shift came. I said goodbye to my nurse Hazel (who felt like a sister – I think I may have offered her money to stay with me she had been so incredible) and hello to Michelle (who I didn’t know what the time, but who was equally as awesome).

I pushed – for hours, maybe? Eye-ball-popping pushing. The OB on call was ready to catch.

Clay’s position was head down, but, posterior. He was otherwise known as sunny-side up. Preferably a (first time birth) baby should be anterior. And his heart rate was dipping.

In the calm, quiet of 7ish in the morning, at the announcement of the posterior positioning about 8 medical staff entered the room – in symphony like precision. Tables were moved, cloths were pulled revealing shiny apparatus, doctors faces were in my face explaining things to me, papers about potential emergency c-sections needed to be signed: Clay had to turn for me to push him out.

It was like I somehow flew into the OR, and on the next contraction, with the help of 6 (I’m not kidding) of the team, they turned him. Blood, waters, bold moves by the medical team. I remember praying that he’d turn. I was stunned to hear he did – as if my prayers needed to play catch up with what was happening to me. On the first go. He had turned. The next contraction, I was told, would be when I needed to push him out. Push. Him. Out.

I so so very clearly remember grabbing the waists of the women on either side of me – my midwife and Michelle, and as the contraction grew, and the team encouraged, I pushed with EVERY-SINGLE-PART-OF-MY-ENTIRE-BEING. Still focussing on breathing in for the 2nd of 3 pushes per contraction, a baby was handed to me. A beautiful, healthy, safe baby boy. Caught off guard, I looked up at the paed anticipating him taking this vernix covered being away, and he looked at me and said  – “he’s perfect, you keep him”.

(Meconium babies often need to be suctioned immediately after birth to clear the meconium from their airways – but Clay was breathing perfectly).

Theran cried, I cried. We had our beautiful baby and standing around us was a team of about 8 people who, for the 5 minutes we were in the OR, focussed every ounce of themselves on me. It was then, feeling so encouraged and so supported and SO loved, that I knew I wanted to make women feel the same when they birthed – so supported – so known. That level of intimate care and love. That, coupled with my new baby boy – changed everything.

Clayden – I will forever, and ever and ever be changed by you and because of you.

Oh, the Fathers love for us…

Skip the Meds: Natural Cold Fighting Remedies for Children

Do you ever stop to think if there is a safer, more effective natural remedy for your children’s winter sniffles? If not, I’m glad you’re reading this, so together we can break that routine of going straight to the medicine cupboard for the regular ‘cures’. Let’s look at powerful and effective natural cold fighting remedies proven to strengthen our children’s bodies when their immune systems are low.

We’ve compiled some of our favourite natural cold fighting remedies for you to try this winter, and here they are…

Invest in a humidifier or an essential oil diffuser: A humidifier helps ease cold symptoms or another respiratory conditions by moistening the air. An essential oil diffuser can also be used to diffuse fine particles into the air. We recommend using eucalyptus essential oil to diffuse – it helps open up the airways and allows kids to breathe easier.

Hydration and Rest: If the body is fighting an illness the best support you can give is to stay well hydrated and rest as much as possible. Try encourage your kids to drink lots of water – and sleep. You can always reschedule that playdate!

Nasal Irrigation: Try a baby and kids non-medicated saline spray to help unblock the nasal passageway.

Elevate the Head of the Mattress, or prop up your child’s sleep position with pillows. This helps drain the mucus away from the head and eases discomfort.

Natural Chest Rub: Try a natural chest rub which doesn’t use petroleum and menthol, and is safe for the appropriate age of the child. ENTER, Pure Beginning’s Natural Chest Rub with Eucalyptus and Lavender... (it’s brand new! What an incredible addition to the PB range).

Chat to a Homeopath about homeopathic remedies and herbs such as elderberry, echinacea, mint and honeysuckle. Do your research, make sure they’re safe for kids, and be consistent in your use if you want it to be effective.

Simple habits: Don’t forget to wash hands (using a safe and effective wash such as Pure Beginnings’ Fun Time Hand Wash). Also encourage the habit of coughing into your elbow to keep bugs from spreading.

Honey, Lemon and a Honey-and-Lemon Hot Toddy!

Honey: Make sure it’s local and raw (and that your child is over 1 year old). Honey has wonderful antioxidants, antiviral and antibacterial properties. It also boosts the immune system and soothes sore throats and coughs – and kids love honey!

Lemon: Vitamin C has long been known to support the immune system and fight off colds. Fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C are lemons, oranges, kiwis, red peppers, guavas, strawberries, dark leafy greens, papaya, broccoli and brussels sprouts. So stock up! 

Familiar with the Hot Toddy? Mix your own combination lemon and honey in hot water to sip on. This is a firm favourite in many households. Or try this more potent recipe if you need a serious help!

Lastly, change your children’s diet!

An easy way to remember this one, is to stop them eating white foods: At the first sign of illness, remove white foods from your children’s diet (dairy, white bread, etc.). Foods which are rich in vegetables, bone broth, whole grains, fermented foods and essential fatty acids (like fish oil & coconut oil) are the way to go. 

***

Pure Beginning’s new Baby & Kids Natural Chest Rub with Eucalyptus and Lavender. This 100% natural chest rub is the perfect addition to your winter medicine cabinet. Free from petroleum and menthol, and with 100% of the ingredients from natural origin, the chest rub is safe to use on babies as young as 3 months old. Incorporating the powerful healing properties of eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender and frankincense, the chest rub provides a gentle and effective way to ease congestion.

My latest Little Green Box treat!

It’s been a while since I posted about a beauty review – and whoa, do I have a cracker for you! Recently I went to my fave little eco salon (The Little Green Box), which, if you’re concerned about chemicals on your skin at any beauty therapist – you don’t need to worry here! I was treated to the NEW Esse Age Defying Facial. Yes. Please.

If you haven’t read previous experiences that I’ve had with Peta, you can do so here and here (she is so very wonderful, and sooooo much in line with how I think and what I love). She is an Esse expert and beams organic, wholesome, holistic and non-judgemental light as soon as you walk into her space. She also told me I had little live friendly pac-man type creatures crawling all over my skin during the exfoliation… intrigued? Read on…

EVERY TIME I have a facial I think I need more facials because they are so goooood for my skin.

Here is a little about the facial itself: 

Esse products are (in my opinion) some of the best natural products out there. Formulated under incredible minds, these products are creme de la creme.

Esse is USP certified organic, they use natural and organic ingredients as well as live probiotics, and is considered a cosmeceutical (because of the delivery system and how the ingredients penetrate the cellular membrane). No nonsense here guys…

Probiotics are for the skin, like water is for a thirsty soul! They protect, hydrate, improve barrier function, skin firmness, slow the rate of aging and detoxify. Esse’s philosophy includes providing skincare that is ethical and sustainable. They care about being carbon neutral, committed to the Fairtrade movement and are Phytrotrade Africa accredited which monitors plant diversity. Esse are also cruelty free, and vegan.

 

Have you heard of the Human Microbiome Project? Basically it will challenge everything you thought about healthy bacteria and (extreme) cleanliness, and how desperately our skin microbiome needs attention.

In 2013, the Human Microbiome Project concluded that “microbes contribute more genes essential for human survival than humans do”.

What is the Microbiome?

The Microbiome is the sum total of all the microbes in and on your body.

What is a Microbe? 

A Microbe is a single celled organism.

What is a Probiotic?

Probiotics are beneficial microbes.

What is a Prebiotic?

Prebiotics are food sources for beneficial microbes. By giving them food, they proliferate and thrive thereby excluding the pathogenic (harmful) ones.

Microbes are essential for health. Esse treats the skin as an ecosystem, and every ingredient is carefully considered for its impact on the microbiome. Back in 2015, Esse launched their revolutionary Probiotic Serum. This serum contains 3 species of lactobacillus microbes. These probiotics are only activated on contact with water on the skin. They then seed the skin with billions of live probiotics which help to rectify imbalances in the skin as well as repair barrier function for a firmer, fuller and more radiant skin.

Sooooooo, back to where my experience came in… Peta gave me Esse’s Age Defy Facial (because I’m no spring chicken anymore guys, and well, my cross-face lines, they’re sinking in deep…).

The Age Defy Facial by Esse Organic Skincare:

  • It enhances preservation from probiotic and botanical actives, restores the skins vitality and promotes collagen and elastic formation (so, you see, those cross-lines are a goner).
  • It also boasts an advances skin smoothing mask with muscle relaxing properties.

A few things to note from the facial:

The Beta Hydroxy Exfoliation:

  • This is a light peel for getting skin back on track
  • Gently dissolves (Peta described this as little pac-man friends eating away at my old, dead skin and) the ‘cement’ that binds skin together.
  • It is very gentle. Not a ‘scrub-type’ exfoliation.

The Intensity Mask: 

  • This is a skin smoothing mask contains Marfane Extract – this is the crucial main ingredient. Considered as a natural alternative to botox (YES please!), it has a strong relaxing effect on muscles and takes 2hrs to activate.
  • It also gives an intense moisture boost.

We took before and after photos (but my phone died a slow and painful (for me) death and had to be wiped clean, l so I can’t show you the final result) but I dared to go out to do the school run with my naked face and felt amazing. It was soft and plump and healthy-looking. I will absolutely be back for another treatment!

I am constantly amazed at the current and on-going advancements in technology when it comes to organic skincare and how THIS is where significant discoveries are being made (such as the importance of our microbiome, keeping the skin of the pH accurate and feeding it, as opposed to scrubbing, smothering and simply ‘cleaning’ it).

Peta is a wealth of knowledge, (she clearly LOVES this stuff) and I’d highly encourage you contact her if you have ANY questions about any skin concerns. She has numerous facial options for those wanting age-defying, or a hydrating, or a intense facial treatment.

The Little Green Box has become such an obvious spot to stop for any skincare need, as well as for gifts and gift vouchers (ask my friends). Besides all this, vote with your money. Support small, ethical, local business. Always (okay, or as much as you can…)

Check out the full The Little Green Box Price List and don’t forget that Gift Vouchers and Spa Packages are also available. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates and more info.

Contact Details:

41 Meadow Way, Constantia Meadows.

Tel: 074 816 7794 (or whatsapp)
Email: littlegreenboxskincare@gmail.com
Web: www.greenboxskincare.co.za

The Little Green Box – Eco Skincare 

Monday to Friday: 08:30 – 16:00
Saturday: 08:30 – 13:00
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

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