Tag Archives: home projects

Cutting my brain some slack…

Three kids is so hardcore. Guys – it really is. It’s so wonderful and so beautiful and so ‘whole’ and SO LOUD and messy and chaotic and brain-freezing.

Brain-freezing. My brain has deteriorated a million fold since having these gorgeous terrors. On a day to day basis, I have had to stop in my tracks and roll through the possibilities the day might demand: fitkids t-shirt, fruit for school, some fee I’ve missed, some craft I need, some dress up, sport, show and tell, playdate… it felt like an evil minefield. I need to limit my in-the-moment thinking. And so I got to the point where scrolling through Pinterest looking at ‘life organizers’ became a blissful pleasure. I felt organised just looking at them, a bit like standing in the gym feeling like you’re losing weight. So despite my radical lack of spare time and baby-not-on-me-ness, I thought I’d take up the challenge and get creative. Also, secretly, I wanted selfish, creative alone time – the kind my darling DIY hubby always has when he’s building something.

So I decided to make (a version of) THIS:

So, I popped on over to my in-laws (who have everything you might ever need, ever), and found an old, crusty, dirty, spider-web-covered window frame. I scraped it down, pulled the broken glass from it, chipped off the dried putty, and cleaned it up (rustic-style).

I then went on the hunt for metal sheeting (I wanted to do magnets instead of the chalkboard – my OCD wouldn’t cope with half-clean chalkboard smudges). So I phoned around and got quotes and “SCREEEEEECH”. My DIY project came to a dramatic halt when I was quoted R600 for 10 pieces of the thinnest, cheapest metal I could find.

… (bleugh)

The frame sat clean and lonely with all the other DIY leftovers, like those old toys in Toy Story.

Until my darling hubby went on a hunt to find metal and unknowingly help me finish it for my bday. So this bday – I got the heaviest present I’ve ever received. 10 sheets of rustic worn metal, perfectly sized to fit in my neglected yet patient frame. (Along with some other ‘prettier’ pressies, don’t worry).

Together we fitted the metal and mounted it on the wall, and I used old scrabble tile magnets I’d made (which had lost their appeal) and laminated signs and stuck adhesive magnets on the back, and voil la! DONE!

Quite cool huh?

Instantly gratifying DIY – Magnetic Letters

So… nursing, changing, bouncing, rocking, and cuddling a newborn is great, but it’s also tiring. And peppered in between is the never ending list of washing, desperately searching for breast pads, rushed toilet breaks, reheating coffee, handing baby to hubby so you can give your other kids some attention, trying to sneak in a quick shower, Disney Junior (DSTV channel 309), and throwing a real quick 5-food group/eat-your-rainbow dinner together.

After actually birthing, one needs some other instant gratification in this new life of blurry nights and debating with hubby who was up longer the night before.

A while back I found this OLD box of Scrabble. In my true minimalist style I almost threw it straight in the ‘donate’ pile (we have another, much newer Scrabble set) until my light bulb moment. Two birds, one stone: a holiday activity with my 4year old and a way to learn letters and words.

Brace yourselves: this one is a doozy. Are you ready? MAGNETIC SCRABBLE LETTERS. Have I blown your mind? I thought so.

Here’s what you need: 

  • Old scrabble tiles.
  • A4 adhesive magnetic sheet (found at PNA for R39 – maternity leave budget friendly).
  • Scissors.
  • Your handy helper.

Method: Again, brace yourselves, it’s complicated. Cut the adhesive magnet sheet into squares and stick them onto the back of the scrabble tiles. Did you get that or should I explain it again? Not to worry – I’ve got step-by-step pictures for you all…

Is that not the easiest, simplest and quite profoundly gratifying DIY project, with years of benefit (as long as you don’t lose all the vowels?)

Ta daaaaa.

Homemade & Happy Baby Wipes

Have you ever read the ingredients in commonly used store-bought wipes? It’s terrifying. When my bub had his realllly bad bum rash back in the day (yes, you’ve heard this story a million times), I was told to use NOTHING on his bum other than water – and so this sparked my first homemade challenge… baby wipes.

Wellness Mama’s homemade baby wipes were the first thing I made myself when I started on this journey towards better health, reducing chemicals in our home and saving the earth (can you picture my super woman t-shirt?), and it has since become second nature.

Of course, while moving countries I fell off the wagon completely and am now fiiiiinally picking myself back up. Shame on me. My poor number 2 has had store-bought wipes with all their yukkiness for so long, the mom-guilt in me was screaming to do something, and FAST.

First and foremost these homemade wipes are safe for your child. To me that’s the most important thing. And secondly, even with an initial outlay on all the tupperware, gels, soap etc. this will most certainly save you money in the long run if you go through wipes like we do. Health, saving money and the environment. Winning at life.

Here’s what you need:  Adapted from the Wellness Mama recipe. (I bet she has multiple superwoman shirts).

WIPES All ingredients


– Paper Towels (R33.50). OF UTMOST importance: You cannot use cheap paper towel – it will tear and you’ll be left with a sludgy mess. Essential Green work well.

– A Container. I use these amazing Tupperware wipes containers (large wipes containers, as seen here, R109 or R89 for small – ideal for school bags) or a 2l ice cream container with a hole punched in the top will also do. (An excuse to eat some ice cream while you protect your family from harsh chemicals).

– 1 3/4 cups boiled water (or distilled), cooled but still warm. (You can just use regular water if you use them in less than a week like we do).

– 1 T Castille Soap (I use Dr. Bronners from overseas. I use this to wash my kids too).

– 1 T (pure) Aloe Vera Gel (see my note about aloe below).

– 1 T Witch Hazel (Pharmacy R42).

– NEW ADDITION (for me):1 t natural oil such as Baobab Tissue Oil (ohhh, yes I did). This is optional, but highly encouraged. 


1) Have your wipes container ready. Open your box of paper towels and divide them into 4. You will use 1/4 box of paper towels per wipes container, and so, since I make two batches, I use half the box.

Oops… as you can see, they don’t quite fit. Not to worry. Once I poured the warm liquid over them, I gently, but firmly, shoved them in – and made them fit. Voia la.

2) In bowl or 500ml jar mix the water, aloe, witch hazel, castille soap, and oil and stir.

As you can see, t’was the perfect day for some afternoon outside DIYing.

3) Put the paper towels in your container and pour the liquid over until they are well soaked (remembering to divide the liquid mixture in two). You can flip the containers over to make sure they’re soaked through.

IMG_0461.JPGDon’t forget to halve the liquid (since you’re making two batches). You don’t want very watery wipes.

4) Open it back up and pull the first wipe out – it might be a bit tricky but go with it.

5) Use as you would regular wipes, and smile, knowing you are not causing your beautiful children any future health problems! I use these wipes for EVERYTHING: from grubby hands and food covered mouths to bums and sandy feet – I know what I’m using on my kids skin is safe and effective.

Isn’t it beautiful? 

Let me reassure you: 

This might sound like its fairly complicated and a lot of work. It’s not. Once you get going, it literally takes 5 minutes to make. I buy the paper towels in bulk and then always have them on hand. You know that terrifying, panicky feeling when you realize you’re almost out of wipes… well you’ll never have that again (as long as you have the ingredients on hand). All you need each time you make a batch is water, soap, witch hazel and aloe vera. Mix and pour. Done.

Let me break it down:

– The castille soap cleans and makes the wipes slippery and easy to use. (You can use less if you find them too soapy),
– The witch hazel acts as a mild astringent and antibacterial,
– The aloe vera has long been an important and indispensable ally for all skin conditions or maladies. It’s just the most perfect soft, loving and caring ingredient for a precious bum.

WIPES 3 liquid ingredients


Hold the (proverbial) phone. Let’s crank this up a notch.

While thinking about this post and driving to pick up my kids, I was AS-TOUN-DED as to how many aloes I saw growing freely in the Southern Suburbs. My friend who lives in Sun Valley had about 20 in her garden at one stage. It is easy-PEASY to make your own aloe vera gel – and cheap as. If I had not had the boys in the car I would’ve jumped out the car and nicked a big fat leaf from off the side of the road, but didn’t think that was very role-model like. Fortunately I got my thrifty paws on some samples from Alcare Aloe.

‘Whoaaaa, hold up’, you’re saying. ‘I’m barely able to wash my hair one a week and brush my teeth twice a day. I’ll never be caught dead making my own aloe vera gel and even these wipes are a push’. That you? Then, breathe a sigh of relief and read on…

Store bought Green Eco Wipes I’m loving…

Cherubs Eco Friendly Baby Wipes: Cherubs baby wipes contain aloe vera (we love aloe vera) and are gentle on delicate skin and the environment. They are flushable, biodegradable and alcohol, paraben and fragrance free. Yes please. (R31.12)


Cherubs have brought out a wonderful eco range. They have hand and face wipes, cotton rounds (nice puffy, durable rounds) and cotton buds (with a unique paper-based stem which is 100% flushable and biodegradable!).

Must be honest, I have a phobia about squeaky cotton rounds. A bit like I have a phobia about teeth and wool (together). Gives me the absolute grrrills. I’m happy to report Cherubs’ cotton rounds passed the non-squeak test. Phew.  

Pure Beginnings Baby Wipes with Baobab and Aloe Vera. (Are you starting to see some familiar ingredients appear here?). These gentle bamboo baby wipes are 100% biodegradable. With organic aloe extract and baobab fruit extract, they are very gentle on delicate skin. (R39.50)

One small change is one small change. Do it!