Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.
  • Display the most gorgeous and tastiest cheese plate this festive season with Klein River Cheese‘s incredible selection.
  • 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.
  • Smoked salmoncold meatspates and hummus could all add to a decadent starter for one of your festive meals, along with some corn chips.
  • Honey or Jam – tie a ribbon around a jar of raw honey or homemade jam for 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.
  • 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!

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)

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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.

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. 

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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.

How to be an awesome human this winter

One of my least favourite days of the month, is the day I (okay fine, hubby and I) get that bill from the City of Cape Town telling me how much we’ve spent on ‘living’. Oh rates and taxes, water, electricity and garbage disposal. You cost me a small fortune.

If you’re living in Cape Town (like I am), surely you’ve already whittled down your water useage. But now that we’re mid winter and it’s FREEZING, is it possible to save money on electricity as well? Well of course it is!

Obviously, it’s not all about saving money – it’s about considering our (often unknown and unintentional) abuse of our environment. Here are a couple ideas, to make your home more cost-efficient and eco-aware this winter.

Use existing insulation

As soon as the sun begins setting, close curtains and blinds to keep warmth inside your bedrooms and living spaces. It will mean your interior stays warmer for longer and you’ll only have to switch on heaters if it is essential. Or install a fireplace… (bucket list!)

Replace and switch off

Replace all light bulbs with LED. Turn off lights, plugs and especially electric blankets and heaters when not using them. Just these few things can reduce your home’s electricity consumption by 15%. Last night I woke up to my scale beeping (weird, I know) and saw hubby’s side of our electric blanket was still on. He got a scathing reprimand at midnight.

Fill it up

Run full loads in your washing machine or dishwasher. And use the eco/short cycles.

Off at the wall

What sits on standby? TV/Wifi/chargers etc. By turning off appliances or electronics which sit on standby for hours on end, you can save up to 6% of your electric bill.

Lose 1 degree

While going solar is the gold-star goal, turning your geyser down by 1 degree and switching it off during the middle of the day can really make a difference. This can provide estimated savings of around R100 a week. We recently bought a geyser blanket but are interested in installing a timer too.

Consider buying a Spindel

As a family of 5, we can’t live without our tumble dryer. I cringe every time we put it on, because I feel like it takes foreverrrrr to dry our clothes and the electricity it uses is nausea-worthy. My recommendation: only wash what is in desperate need of a wash, and investigate using a Spindel (esp if your washing machine is not a super fancy pants one – which ours is not).

If you’ve never heard of it before – a Spindel is an innovative dryer that uses spin power instead of heat to remove up to 80% of the leftover moisture from clothes. On average – one load in a spindel draws out around 1 cup of water from my washing (and it takes only 3 min to do so!). If I need to pop my clothes in the tumble drier, it takes a fraction of the time to dry completely, after being ‘spindeled’. A Spindel saves TONS of time and electricity.

Inspired? What else do you to save money, electricity and the environment? I’d love to know.

Happy end of winter all xxx

DIY Dummy Clips

I have recently become good friends with someone who is a kindred spirit in every sense of the word. We are so like minded it’s creepy. When copy each other’s baking ideas, pinterested pins, home DIY and kids crafts. We also both also find it thrilling to score a good deal and stock up on our kids’ clothes a season in advance. The what’s apps fly between us, with quick online sales, ideas for Christmas crafts, the best place to get this or that, and a mutually shared celebration of a deal scored.


So this is the latest. Dummy Clips. I remember buying a certain brand named baby clip for my first born, and it was about R80 and I lost it a week later. Fail.

Not even being sure if my third would take a dummy (our second vehemently rebelled and re-fused) I wasn’t going to risk buying a dummy clip at that price.

My kindred spirit buddy showed me what she had done – made dummy clips for under R10. So I asked her to show me her ways… and here’s how we (she) did it!

What you need to buy: 

– Silver clip (R6.00)

– 20cm of fabric ribbon (R1.00)

– That plastic platted ‘rope’ (R0.30)


What you need at home: 

– Matches, scissors, needle, thread.

How to: 

Cut the ribbon to the length you want it and singe the ends with the matches. Hand stitch (or sew) the one end of the ribbon around the silver clip loop, and the other end around your rope…

Melt the ‘plastic rope’ together to form a loop. Hide the melted part of the rope where the ribbon has been stitched.

Attach it like follows and you’re done!



I’m BAAAAAACK! And there is more of me…

I’ve been quiet. Sorry about that. While I previously would have been blogging and trying new recipes, and learning life lessons, going on more adventures with the kids, making new DIY thingy-majigs, finding new ipad apps (our old ones are not longer cuttting it), and sourcing new eco products… I’ve been napping, and going for scans, having serious food aversions, napping some more, overdosing on kauai smoothies, doing more napping, and peeing. A lot.

Yep, I’m pregnant, with number 3. While it was still under cover, I read this blog post by blogger Cindy Alfino (from 3 kids, 2 dogs and 1 old house). It made me laugh HARD, especially the bit about closing your eyes when paying school fees. Truth. Thanks for the laugh Cindy.

debbie shocked pregnant

Back to it! Sooo… we’re pregnant. Again. Fortunately, besides the exhaustion of managing two small boystrous boys (covered in noise and dirt, constantly) it’s been fairly okay. I’ve experienced food aversion in a big way – and afternoon exhaustion at its peak – but into the 2nd tri I’ve got my Superwoman cape on and I’m even taking both boys to the aquarium (DURING the school holidays mind you, pushing a HEAVY double stroller with NO air in its tyres surrounded by thousands of holidayers). You should see my speed and agility when the kids run in opposite directions. It’s award winning. I bought myself a mcflurry after to reward myself for my efforts. I deserved it.

Pregnant Debbie

Having had both my kids in Vancouver, this Cape Town birth idea was a bit new to me, but at the same time, I’ve never been as intentionally green (especially with my kids) as I am now. This is exciting. I find myself being VERY aware of what I put on my skin, and what I eat, which in all honesty, on the eating part… I haven’t been all that great (besides my weekly 2 x Kauai smoothies thanks to Vitality Fitness Rewards) – but when it comes to skincare – I’ve been military style. Sounds a bit hypocritical, and maybe it is, but give a pregnant woman a break will ya?

When it comes to my prenatal supply, I’m all over it, happily sourcing some of the best products available in SA. A friend recently asked me what I’m using prenatally, and here it is… (inspired by Wellness Mama, and a 3hr stint in emergency at 11 weeks with crazy abdominal pain).

Solgar products contain no preservatives, no artificial flavouring (I’d prefer if my prenatals didn’t look like giant pink smarties), as well as being gluten free, dairy free, yeast free, wheat free, sugar free.

I’m no doctor, but I do like the Solgar and The Real Thing ranges – and felt safe taking them. Probiotics are recommended during pregnancy for overall gut health and to avoid GBS if possible (although I was GBS+ during both boys’ pregnancies), and you can’t forget your omegas.

And so that’s where we’re at. More gushy, hormone-driven, pregnant, baby info is sure to come flying your way, but I’ll leave you with this precious moment yesterday with my midwife at Birth Options – the boys listening to the sound of their baby sisters heart beat. YES, it’s a GIRL (…we think – as much as the 13 week scan can tell you)… I’ll be sure to confirm after 21 weeks.

We are BLESSED! xxx

clay and ryler at midwives

A good time or a good story

This post is nothing other than a rambling that I started this morning while dropping my toddler off at school (and I’m posting it here for the sake of it being stored in some archive which the kids and I can read at a later stage). Can I even call our toddler a toddler? I feel like with the smart-ness of his specs and his un-be-liev-a-ble memory, I can’t actually call him that anymore.

A great life motto we picked up from a dear friend in Vancouver when something doesn’t go QUITE like we planned is this: It’s either a good time or a good story. Store that gem in your brain files.

So while dropping off my post-toddler toddler at play school this morning, our past weekend experience popped up in conversation. You know the one about the flea infestation, the buying of 4 doom foggers, the family camp out in the kitchen and the vomiting? No? Oh well – brace yourselves.

OUR GOOD STORY:

Our family was DESPERATE (read: des-per-ate for more effect) for a weekend away. There is WAY too much going on in our lives and the Bainskloof family cottage was our light at the end of the tunnel. Change of jobs (involving some shenanigans by the ex-company which we are VERY glad is an EX), on-going building renovations, constant drilling and noise, and and and… called for some very much needed time.out. The week leading up to Bainskloof started with vomiting from the youngest, then conveniently passed to eldest (post-toddler toddler) which then settled, and juuuust when we thought we’d dealt with it, nope, it came right back. Great. Then hubby started, and let’s just say the next few days were a blur of all things we dont like to admit we have. Let’s just call it gastro-esque.

I’d been in emergency at hospital that week myself at 5:45am one morning (long story, it’s all good) and so listen, with the family barely holding on by a thread, as Thursday night/Friday morning approached, we had our eyes on the prize – a weekend at Bains. Just us, no noise, only sunsets, braais, hammock sleeping, the river… bliss. Did I say no noise?

So, even with hubby and I both functioning around 50% of normal capacity, we did it. We packed the car to.the.brim. Food, clothes, nappies, camp cot, bedding, pillows, linen, swimming cossies, bikes, toys, books, balls, running stuff, mozzie repellent, fan to keep mozzies away (I HATE mozzies), sunscreen, medical aid kit, not enough warm clothes, our kitchen sink – you name it, we’d packed it. We loaded the family in the car, handed them some milk tart to stuff in their faces and off we set for the 1hr15min drive which only took us 2hr30min on a Friday leaving at 2pm. Yup. We should’ve known things were going south. But let’s stay positive.

We ARRIVE. Hallelujah. Let’s all get out the car and kiss the dusty, dry Bainskloof ground.

Here’s where I’ll speed up the weekend for the sake of you all reading the longest post ever.

Drop bags/beds/linen in cottage. Find flea on smallest child. Think nothing of it (other than I hadn’t seen one since we had a dog). Find flea on post-toddler toddler, think “that’s strange”. Find flea/s on myself. OH SH*T, the cottage is infested with FLEAS. Hubby and I look at each other in despair. Hubby frantically removes bags/beds/linen from cottage. No energy in reserve tank for this. Big undies need indeed be worn (if they’re not flea infested already). *Sigh.

What do we do? With one Doom fogger on hand we fog the place and decide to leave that night after sunset. We thought we’d hit the river, have a braai, leave after dark with sleeping kids in the car. Then we decide we don’t actually WANT to go home (besides the fact that we’ve mustered all our energy to just GET THERE). Decide to check out some chalets across the road for the night. Decide to not pay R400 to sleep for 6 hours. Neighbour offers flea-free mattresses. We gratefully accept. We camp out on the floor of the kitchen (a separate flea-free dwelling) – a family sleepover. The things kids’ dreams are made of. Kids are LOVING it. There are only about 5 things to do at Bains: braai (and eat), go throw stones and swim in the river, melt marshies, watch the sunset and sleep. We’ve done them all. Kids think we’re winning.

After another session of Doom fogging (apparently one wasn’t enough for the buggers – the greenie in me screaming inwardly at the thought) and proper ventilating, we managed to move back in the following night and enjoy the rest of our weekend, along with some projectile vomiting from both kids (ahhh good, seems we brought the bug with us) and more than our fair share of necessary nappy changes on the youngest. Gross. Both kids poopy and vomity and refusing to eat their boerewors rolls, but desperate as desperate gets for s’mores. Do your kids also not swallow over-chewed meat? Mine neither. Do you also try enforce the no dessert without dinner rule? Us too. Makes for a good time. S’mores consumed, then vomited, then time for bed. No bathing, no teeth brushing (and certainly no flossing), barely a change of clothes was had – how we roll in survival mode.

Sunday morning brought with it more joy and happiness (and less projectile anything). Lots of cuddling in the hammock, story reading and counting gum tree pip/seed things. Post-toddler toddler content as. Pancakes, milo (bad idea in retrospect) and left over marshmallows filled the morning with delight. My phone had died the Friday night (and we’d brought the wrong charger) so the entire weekend was phone free (and this post clearly photo free). Something I struggle to force myself to do, but when it’s forced upon me, it’s FAN-TASTIC.

So just when you think your day is going bad… ask yourself? Did you have a flea infestation and two vomming children with you?

TAKE AWAYS

On the bright side, let’s think about what we learnt:

– all jobs are better with a friend (such as cleaning vom or shoving the post-toddler toddler to your spouses side of the bed).
– s’mores solve a lot of things
– Bainskloof has the most incredible sunsets
– watching our kids throw stones into the river and splash about makes it so worth it
– the smell of a wood braai out in nature releases happy hormones I’m sure
– the thought of how content our kids are in silence and with no toys
– getting away from noise really does clear your head
– the EXPERIENCE is (almost) ALWAYS worth the effort.

Your turn! Tell me your good story…

No, we don’t have a jungle gym

I must be failing as a parent because I get asked (almost DAILY) why we don’t have a jungle gym, a trampoline OR a dog. My poor kids – so deprived. Dare I tell them we’ve just FILLED IN the pool allowing us to do some renovations… I think I’ll keep that to myself.

Meet Blue Route, Clayden’s first pet – a caterpillar.

So when the 3.5 year old waddles in with his “Hey mom, why don’t we have a jungle gym, a trampoline OR a dog?” I answer with “Because you have a real live construction site in your backyard. Do any of your friends have THAT?” (Truth be told, his friend Alex at school also has a construction site for a backyard but he doesn’t know that). “Also”, I often continue, “you go to school on a FARM with a ga-zillion animals and have an overwhelming array of climbing, jungle gyming, bouncing, riding, sliding, playing, messing and creative equipment. Sooooo there.”


While yes, the time will come for us to acquire such developmentally essential apparatus, now is not that time (and when that time does come I’m fairly sure hubby will come up with his own plan on how we’re going to build it ourselves – he’s like that). Our kids are not starved for these things, and so they shall wait. But it does beg the question, (as their birthdays are not far off…) the big one around… TOYS.

So I referred to Wellness Mama, my trusty role model on all things natural and thought through. Here are some of the things she has suggested (which do not include garden play equipment or live animals).

1. Basic Wooden Natural Toys

“By far my favorite toys, especially for little ones. I love finding handmade wooden toys at farmers markets or on Etsy. My boys especially love the handmade wooden swords, shields and knives from Frost Lane on Etsy.”

I love Hape, Melissa and Doug and other wooden varieties often available at Toy Kingdom. I really do try my best to buy higher quality non-plastic toys, but in reality, it’s not always that easy. 

2. Blocks

“I’m a huge fan of toys that encourage creative play. Legos are one of the only plastic toys we have, and I make the exception because they encourage hours of imaginative play.  For little kids, plain wooden blocks are a great thing to have on hand.”

For my friend Beth’s baby shower in Vancouver, hubby and I cut and sanded 52 small wooden blocks and, as an activity, had all her shower guests paint them with a letter of the alphabet, and then I varnished them with a toxic free varnish. We made 2 sets, one for her, and one for us. Heaps of fun (and nostalgia). Jenga is also a goodie as the kids get older. 

3. Dress Up

“We have a variety of play silks that the children use for dress up and imaginative play, as well as many homemade costumes. I’ve found that these encourage hours of creative play at our home. Melissa and Doug also makes a great line of dress up costumes.”

My oldest doesn’t LOVE dressing up, but we do try encourage it from time to time. The best is when he is a shepherd or king for the family nativity play at my in-laws every year and we use towels, dish clothes, rope and old pieces of this and that to get the 12 cousins dressed their part. Good memories.

4. Wooden Trains

“A huge favorite at our house. I’ve found some great wooden trains and tracks on Craigslist and at yard sales and we also have this set.”


Yes! 

5. Craft Bins

“I love having pre-made activity and craft bins that I can pull out and do with the kids. I’ve chronicled many of our favorites on this Pinterest board. We also have a wooden tabletop easel for drawing and painting.”

An easel with new drawing stuff! That’s a good present idea for this year. 

6. Musical Instruments

“This one isn’t for the feint of heart. Seriously. If you have more than one child, musical instruments can quickly turn a room of otherwise quiet children into a rock band that rivals a crowded stadium in sound levels. Instruments are, however, really fun for children.”

You can find a lovely arrange of plastic-free instruments. 

7. Bow & Arrows and Slingshots

“Such are the things boyhood is made of. Carved wooden slingshots are a favorite with my boys and they love shooting wooden bow and arrows at the trees in the backyard.”

Yikes – I’m not sure if I’m ready for bows and arrows quite yet – but I’m sure we’ll get there. Right now, all they could possibly do is cause harm and instill terror in me.

How about you? Any gems that you’ve found (that isn’t cheap plasticy nonsense)? Share share, please!

Oh my gosh – a TREE HOUSE! Now, hubby, let’s get on that!!

My three things

A friend recently challenged me on a New Years resolution kinda question (or should I say series of questions):

Her challenges were: 

1) What do you want to grow in?

2) What do you want more of?

3) What do you want to let go of?

And, for the sake of transparency, and to encourage you all in your own thinking… Here are my answers.

What do I want to grow in? I want to grow in the knowledge and understanding what it means to have faith and trust in God. For me personally, I need to take myself out of the drivers seat and attempt to grasp the hugeness of who God is and what it means to just trust. Trust.

What comes with that is an understanding that I am not on my own, and that at any time, I can ask for help and wisdom.

Also… Minimalism.

What do I want to let go of? I want to do my best to let go of the need to control. To control my family, my future, my picture perfect image of my life should look like (or at least what I imagine it to be). I think this need to control is more exhausting than I realize and while I love order and neat and tidy, I need to relax and just be.

I also need to let go of my obsession with my phone. I really do. This obsession with checking apps mindlessly must GO.

What do I want more of? I want more of a life rhythm. I am a typical number 7 on the enneagram. Outgoing, Adventurer, GO GO GO, experience, experience, experience. But with two little people at home, a new year with a new house, building renovations and and and, this spontaneous wild at heart never-say-no girl, must learn to sloooooow doooown. I need more of a groove, of a rhythm.

Everyday when I pick up my 3.5yr old from play school he asks me where we’re going. To which I reply ‘home’. And he’s always disappointed. As it turns out, the constant trips (post school) to the grocery store, aquarium, ice cream place, smoothie shop etc. has encouraged a little person with rather high expectations for an adventure every day.

“Sorry buddy, it’s home for peanut butter sarmies. Let’s go.”


We’re well and truly into 2016. What are your new life goals, personal challenges or dare I say ‘resolutions’?

Picture Credit: shawellnessclinic.com

A little love for Oh-lief

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My journey to a green(er) lifestyle came in 2012 when my oldest responded incredibly well to a natural skin product (after trying many medical alternatives). So I could completely relate to sisters Christine Buchanan and Louiza Rademan who had the same conviction when it came to Christine’s pregnancy and her little boys birth. We felt like kindred spirits.

After arriving back in SA in 2014, this brand was one of the few I noticed popping up all over the place. And one I was excited to see was locally and hand made in South Africa (Cape Town!), with love.

Their Story

Growing up in a household where green and organic were valued principles, Christine found herself in a predicament while pregnant with Liam, her first baby boy. In her quest to find a skin care range to use during her pregnancy, Christine was dissatisfied with the conventional body products on the market. Not satisfied with using, harmful products, Christine and Louiza set out to develop a new range of natural baby and body products, based on old family recipes.

The result was Oh-lief’s complete range of Natural Body products, made from 100% natural and organic, raw ingredients, sourced locally.

Their Philosophy

“We believe in safe products for babies, toddlers and families, which is why none of our products are harmful to sensitive skin or the environment.”

100 % Natural. 100% Good.

Founded in 2010 by sisters Christine and Louiza, Oh-lief was born out of their love for nature and the desire to use products that would not harm their skin or the environment. (The perfect green combination – rethinking what is truly healthy as well as being environmentally aware).

Oh-lief = REAL Organic Products, Made with Love.

Their name references olive oil, which is the main ingredient found in all their products, as well as their love for all things natural. Their products do not contain any harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, petroleum, parabens, artificial colours or nut oils. They use a base of organic olive oil and beeswax, which is combined with the natural properties of a number of other organic ingredients to form a complete range of products that is ideal for all skin types. Voila. Fantastic.Oh lief

Overseas I started making a number of my own baby and skin products, based on Wellness Mama’s Baby Care recipes, and so for me the colours, smells and textures of the oh-lief range felt incredibly familiar. Based with olive oil and beeswax (as are mine and many of Wellness Mama’s), the products last a long time. Really, you need such a small amount – it goes far!

So recently I tried two of their Body Range products, The Natural Olive Hand Wax and the Grapefruit & Sweet Orange Natural Body Wash. I love a good body wash and I’m becoming more and more aware of my skin as an organ and what I put onto it, becoming what sinks into it. The body wash has a gentle citrus scent, but is not overpowering. I also love a pump bottle (portion control and all). The hand wax is perfect for dry skin and a very effective moisturizer. The beeswax is also great for strengthening your nails, and the tin is a super addition to your handbag.

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Psssst: The family sunscreen goes with me everywhere, as does the insect balm. Mozzies drive me insane. 

Personally, as a mom (and as a doula), I feel like this is another one of those great (local) brands, doing great things while using minimal and quality ingredients. If you’re a label watcher – you’ll love these guys.

For more info you can contact them on their website, facebook, twitter or email them on info@ohlief.com.

Images: www.ohlief.com

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