Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Jozi WAHM's Ultimate Guide to Budget Shopping in Jozi




In Jozi, we are fortunate to have plenty of options when it comes to shopping. However, this can also cause a drain on ones budget if you are not shopping savvy. From physical retailers, online shopping and even shopping on gumtree.co.za, here is how to get the most bang for your buck in the city of gold.


Grocery Shopping

We have a few tips for getting the most out of your grocery budget:

First of all, have a budget and stick to it religiously. There is one exception to the rule- when you find a sale that is too good to miss and it is something you will use and would have bought anyway, just in smaller quantities later on. The items I typically shop around for and then stockpile when cheap are larger ticket non-perishables such as nappies and washing powder which are significantly cheaper on sale.

However, there are some things to avoid when it comes to buying on sale. Be wary of falling into the trap of buying things that you otherwise would not have just because they are cheap (even if those marked down chocolates are screaming your name). Also, be cautious of buying stuff that you will not use up before they expire, as you will not be saving anything if half is thrown away. Lastly, while it is sometimes worth your while to shop around when some things are cheaper at one store than another, work out the value of your petrol (and time) and do the maths as to whether you are actually saving. 

When you head to the grocery store, make sure you do not do so on an empty stomach as this is sure to result in impulse purchases.

Look out for coupon discounts. While we do not have those crazy discounts you see on those American couponing reality shows (unless there is something I do not know- in which case please tell me!), you can save some money with coupons. You can download the Shoprite and Checkers apps for digital coupons, or look on the Unilever website. Pick 'n Pay now sends personalised coupons (I was freaked out the first time I received one because it was so tailor-made to me that it felt like they were stalking me a bit, but at least they send vouchers you will actually use). Again, when using these coupons, avoid falling into the trap of buying things you do not need and would not otherwise have bought.

Clothing shopping

With children's clothing, it is well worth waiting for end of season sales and buying neutral staples which will not go out of fashion in a bigger size for the following season. Branded items are often significantly cheaper at factory shops. It is also worthwhile checking what is available online.

Online shopping

Online stores are often able to offer better prices due to not having to have physical store premises. You also save on petrol and time going to a physical store (not to mention the frustration of having an emergency nappy change or hungry child just as you get to the front of a long queue).

Look out for voucher codes- stores like Kalahari, Takealot, Zando, Spree and BabyGroup often have substantial discount voucher codes- just Google the voucher codes for the relevant store online. Look out for periods when there are no delivery fee, or wait till you need enough from the relevant store to qualify for a waiver of the delivery fee.

Buying and selling second hand

Things that will only be used for a short period of time (for example baby goodies) are often far cheaper if you buy them secondhand, using an established site such as Gumtree (where you can literally find everything under the sun). For armchair shoppers, this is ultra convenient since you can compare prices for new and used items and get a good feeling for what the best prices out there are and whether new or used is the way to go.

It is also worth your while to sell larger items that you no longer use on sites such as Gumtree. You will de-clutter while cashing in (to get money to buy more stuff on Gumtree of course) and someone else will get to use items that would otherwise have collected dust. 

They even have a very user friendly Android app which allows you to find advertisements for goods (or service providers) located in your vicinity from your smartphone. 

This is how easy it is to place an ad on Gumtree via the app

Gumtree sometimes gets an unfair reputation for scams, but remember it is a convenient platform for you to buy and sell. They just provide the market place to enable transactions, putting you in touch with other buyers and sellers and you can use this as you see fit.  You should ensure that this platform is used responsibly (exercise caution in providing personal details such as bank account details to others, if selling do not send the item before receiving payment and if purchasing something in person, meet in a public place and take someone with you). Provided these precautions are taken, you are promised a happy shopping experience and an opportunity to save on items which otherwise would have costed significantly more.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Are you ready to work from home? The Jozi WAHM's Guide to Getting Started

In this day and age, with all kinds of technology making it easy to stay connected without physically being at the office, the decision to work from home may be an alluring one for many. Being able to spend time with family, spending less time in traffic, determining your own working hours and saving on rental and petrol costs may be motivating factors for such a decision. With proper planning, the decision to stay at home may be a rewarding one. However, before deciding to do so, there are many aspects that need to be considered.

Making the decision to work from home was one of the biggest decisions of my adult life and took many months of deliberation and planning. Even so there are some things that took me off guard. 

If you are considering working from home, here are some things that require some serious thought while compiling your business plan. Note: This is just a broad checklist and specific aspects of the issues below will be covered in future posts.

  • Firstly, do you have the right personality type for this? Extreme extroverts might miss the daily interaction with others at the office and may feel isolated if there is not enough interaction with others. Conversely, extreme introverts might find it difficult to engage in the conversations needed to get the ball rolling and interact with clients. You will also need to seriously assess whether you are self-motivated enough to actually get down to working when there is nobody policing whether or not you actually do so.
  • Then, obviously, you need to consider what type of business it is which you wish to pursue. Your skill set, personality type, education and the market demand in your area will all help in determining this. Adequate market research will be required to determine whether your business idea is a viable one and this is often one of the primary determinants of whether a business can thrive. You will need to determine who your target market are, whether they will buy into your product.You also need to figure out if the service you are offering is one that people will be willing to pay for, how much they are willing to pay and whether this will be lucrative for you.
  • Be wary of business areas which have already reached saturation point. At the same time, if you are considering a business type that not many others are doing, this could either mean that your business is novel and unique or that it is a bad idea and that others know better- you need to figure out which!
  • You will need to calculate what the start up costs for your business will be and consider how these will be funded. Will you need to apply for any credit facilities and how will these be repaid? Bear in mind that it is likely that you will not see a profit for at least the first year of operation, so you need to consider how your expenses will be covered during this period.
  • The type of business enterprise needs consideration. While a sole proprietorship may be the simplest way to operate, the possibility of a company, trust or other enterprise may be considered in order to limit personal liability. However, the consequences and responsibility that comes along with these vehicles need to be understood and it would be prudent to consult with an attorney to consider the pro's and cons of each potential option. In addition, your attorney can help you to establish whether any registrations or licenses are required and any regulatory and compliance aspects your business will have to adhere to going forward. 
  • You will need to consider your property- where at home you will work from and whether the way your home is set up will practically allow for you to work from home. Certain business types may require that your property is zoned for business and you will need to check whether this is the case. If you are selling goods rather than offering services, you need to consider whether you will have to keep physical stock and whether you have the space for this. Regardless of the business type, a dedicated work space is ideal, preferably one which is in some way separated from the rest of the home. 
  • You obviously need to ensure that you have all the relevant tools of trade, which will be determined by the business type. Most businesses will require fast and reliable internet connectivity and you will have to research what the best option for this is in your area. 
  • If you have the type of business that will involve have clients in and out of your home, you need to consider whether your family's privacy will be infringed and even more importantly, security. Do you have parking space for potential clients and will this be disruptive to your neighbours?
  • If you are planning to work from home with children around, a whole extra level of complexity will be added to your business planning. Will you work with your children present or will you have assistance? Even with a nanny to help with my one year old and with my four year old at pre-school in the mornings, this aspect is far tougher than I had anticipated. Given that spending time with my family was my primary motivator for leaving my office job, I find it difficult to banish myself into isolation and usually end up allowing the constant disruptions from my children. As a work at home mother, you will need to figure out for yourself how to balance this aspect (for a few tips on this aspect, please see my previous blog post on the topic here). You also need to set boundaries against disruptions from the beginning so that extended family and friends are aware that just because you are not physically at the office, you are working. 

If you have all the answers to the above questions, then working from home may well be the way forward for you.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Just stuff we did at home last week

There were a few rainy days this past week, so the kids enjoyed several indoor activities at home:
  • We did a hand print painting this week using glitter finger paint to make a butterfly (I just added glitter to some regular finger paint). The top set of hands belong to Squish and the bottom set to Noodle. 

Butterfly hand prints

  • Noodle painted a bird with the leftover paint and added a foam beak and googly eyes.
 
Glitter bird


  • We baked a tasty chocolate cake. Nothing fancy, a box mix topped in caramel and sprinkles. Noodle did most of the decorating.


  • We blew bubbles. 
Recipe for home made bubbles:

1/3 cup dishwashing liquid
1 1/4 cups water
2 teaspoons sugar

  • We played I spy. For Noodle, I give her the sound the word begins with rather than the letter since she cannot really spell yet.
  • We played (lots of) hide and seek. Squish is surprisingly good at this for a fourteen month old!
  • We turned our lounge into a recording studio and had a sing-along, using the Yokee app, where the lyrics to practically any song are available.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Noodle says... Part 2

Here are the latest gems from my four year old Noodle. (For part 1 of 'Noodle says', please click here.)





You know that you are having a conversation with Noodle when the sentence starts with "I have a good idea". She has several good ideas each day. Here are some for this week:


She did not believe me when I told her that they are waterproof and wanted to know why they all stop working every time it rains. In Jozi,I guess this is a fair observation. 

Wishful thinking.
 
Yes, in Noodle land, Eskom and Google are both people. I found it interesting that Eskom is a 'he' and Google is a 'she'.

Monday, 23 March 2015

We love NUK {Product Review}

We have always used NUK products for Noodle and Squish and in my experience their products epitomise quality and great design. Noodle was addicted to her pacifier (the NUK Rose Soother to be precise) as a baby. They were my preferred choice too due to their orthodontic design and the fact that they did not cover Noodle's entire tiny face like some other brands.

You can see below that Squish's NUK bottles and dummy have been well used. He never actually sucked the dummy (he used it as a chew toy/ teether) but loved it nevertheless. 

.
The old tested bottle and soother


We were excited to hear that NUK has expanded their range to not only cater for smaller babies but also active toddlers and pre-schoolers. We recently acquired a set of six BPA free NUK Food Pots, which are the perfect size to store kiddy sized portions of food in the fridge or freezer while taking up very little space (that is when Squish is not using them as toys- he is drawn to their bright colours). The food pots also work very well for making ice lollies (see the recipe for some delicious yoghurt ice lollies here).
NUK Food Pots

I felt like I had won the jackpot when I was sent this delightful hamper of Nuk toddler products to review.


Noodle literally squealed with excitement when she spotted the super cute pink ballerina NUK Sports Cup. The first thing I look for in bottles and sippy cups is that they are BPA free and the second thing I check is that they do not leak when I put them in her school bag. So far this one has passed the test. The Sports Cup is lightweight but big enough to fit lots of liquids (450 ml) to keep thirsty pre-schoolers well hydrated. It also has a clever design that allows it to be washed in the dishwasher without even having to disassemble it.



Squish tested out the NUK Weaning Set, which contains a non-slip divided plate (for fussy toddlers who do not like their spinach touching their carrots), a non-slip bowl and a knife and spoon set. I especially like the cutlery as they are just the right shape and size for tiny fingers to grip but also strong enough so that it does not bend while they are eating like some others that we have. Now if only NUK could invent something to stop toddlers from throwing their food!
 
Top: NUK Weaning Set | Bottom left: Fruit afternoon snack in divider plate | Bottom Right: Squish has fruity oats in NUK bowl


The NUK Training Toothbrush Set contains two massaging brushes with rubber bristles to polish those brand new pearly whites and massage itchy gums. It also comes with a ring which serves as both a stand and a guard to prevent your little ones from sticking the brushes too far. 
NUK Training Toothbrush Set
The NUK Breast Milk Storage Bags are BPA free, very thick and have a double seal, so you can be assured that your precious breast milk will be safe in the freezer. They are pre-sterilised and also have measurements along the side so that you can see how much is being defrosted at any given time.  

NUK Breast Milk Bags
**** Jozi WAHM will be giving away an awesome Nuk prize in the next few days. Keep your eyes peeled for further details.****

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Jozi WAHM's Directory of Mall Baby Rooms

Have I mentioned that I love shopping?  However, shopping with little ones, especially babies can be daunting and there are four golden rules to follow:
  1. Keep it brief.
  2. Make sure your nappy bag is stocked with the necessary artillery;
  3. If you have a pram, know where the lifts are (if not, know which stores have those prams with the baby seat attachments); and MOST IMPORTANTLY
  4. Know where the baby rooms are.
It is crucial for mommies to know where to run for that emergency nappy change or feed when out shopping. When you have a screaming newborn, the last thing you want to have to do is search high and low for the nearest baby room. While this list does not cover all shopping centres in Jozi, we hope the below will help you know where to look for nappy change and feeding facilities at some of the malls.

My own dress choice is to wear more modest clothes generally, so baring my breasts was never an option for me personally. I used to nurse Squish just about anywhere as a newborn (when I could just position a receiver or shawl discretely and feed without anybody noticing) but I find this impossible with fidgety older babies and toddlers. 

I suspect there may be moms that are about to tell me that it is their right to nurse in public wherever they want and that you do not eat in a bathroom, so why should baby etcetera.  Yes, I respect and support your right to nurse in public and also refuse to feed my baby anywhere that is dirty or smelly and would rather go back to my car and feed in such instances. However, there are more options these days than just smelly toilets.

Even for mothers who are comfortable nursing in public, there may be times when your outfit just will not allow you to nurse without practically stripping or times where baby may be over-stimulated by the mall hustle and bustle and just needs a quiet place- so it is always handy to know where feeding facilities can be found. Here is my directory of mall baby rooms, which I hope to add to in future:
SANDTON CITY

There are beautiful, very modern and clean new baby rooms in the newer section of the mall close to Mr Price. However, if you are breastfeeding and seek privacy, these rooms have semi-transparent glass, so the older one at the food court (to the right of Ocean Basket) might be a cosier option.

CRESTA SHOPPING CENTRE

The bathrooms upstairs close to Mugg and Bean, Croc and Identity has a newly revamped baby room with nappy change facilities and separate feeding area. The rest do not have baby facilities (the ones near Game definitely have no baby facilities and at the one downstairs opposite Boardmans the cleaning lady pointed me to the solid counter top in the ladies room and instructed me to change nappies there).

CLEARWATER MALL

This mall has two baby rooms, both in the corridors that lead off from the centre food court. While they are nice, whether or not they are clean and smell free is luck of the draw. However,  only the one that forks off from the corridor close to Spur has a feeding room while the other does not.

THE MALL OF ROSEBANK

After the recent revamps, this mall boasts beautiful and very clean nappy change facilities. Take note though, that only the one upstairs next to Jet has a chair for feeding. The Zone, adjacent to the Rosebank Mall has a nappy change room with a seperate feeding room at the baby rooms opposite Sowearto, while the bathrooms closer to Spur have no baby facilities. Spur itself has one of those little plastic change stations in the ladies room. Oh and the Rosebank Mall has a couple of special mommy parking bays.

Baby room at the Mall of Rosebank
CAMPUS SQUARE

Okay, this is not exactly a major mall but I am there frequently enough for it to warrant a mention. When the centre was recently revamped, I was thrilled to see that they finally incorporated a baby room. To my disappointment, the baby room just has a hard counter-top for nappy feeds and a basin, with nowhere to sit for feeds. Cleaning staff have decided that they would also use the tiny space to store mops and brooms, so it is impossible to squeeze a pram in there. You are better off going to the baby room at Pick 'n Pay, which is far better kitted and even sometimes has baby good samples.

Baby room at Campus Square
EASTGATE SHOPPING CENTRE

Changing and feeding facilities are located at the Food Court near Nando's and near entrance six.
TRADE ROUTE MALL

A baby room with changing and feeding facilities can be found at the bathrooms close to Milky Lane and Toys and Hobbies.

CRADLESTONE MALL

I was only ever here once and do not remember where the baby rooms are (sorry!), but I do remember being impressed by clean and pleasant nappy changing and breastfeeding facilities. They are there somewhere and there are definitely more than one. They also have mommy parking bays.
BABY CHANGING PODS
I have seen baby pods like the one in the picture below at a few of our malls (pretty much illuminated floating plastic containers with compact facilities for feeding and changing nappies). I have spotted these at Fourways Mall, the Glen, Trade Route Mall and Westgate Shopping Centre and I am told that Greenstone and Broadacres have them too. However, they do seem to come and go. While they are okay for nappy changes, some tend to be smelly (I guess this would depend on how well the relevant shopping centre maintains them). It is an improvement though, over malls that only have a change station inside the ladies bathrooms, which pose a problem for any daddies who find themselves alone with baby.
Baby pods found at certain malls
When there is no feeding room in site and you have a hungry, screaming baby, my suggestion would be to go to a change room clothing store, they are usually very accommodating.

We would love your feedback on the malls that we have left out so that we can update our list.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Frozen- The Gutter Version

Like many four year old girls (and boys), Noodle is slightly obsessed with the movie Frozen. She has watched the movie enough times for ME to know the lyrics to all the songs, had Frozen as the theme for her last birthday and has more than her fair share of the merchandise. 

Let's just say that we have gotten to the point where our DVD player mysteriously cannot play the Frozen movie anymore.


I am sure most are familiar with that  game where you make a chain story, with one person starting and the next continuing, with each taking turns. I introduced Noodle to this game and this is the grotesque story that she wove (with me putting in a word here and there, I tried to add the bear minimum and let her do most of the talking). Sadly, in the Noodle version, Anna and Elsa lack the etiquette and decorum befitting of princesses. Despite its grim nature, I thought the story was worth sharing.

The story (with sincerest apologies to Disney) goes as follows:
"Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived two beautiful princesses called Elsa and Anna. Elsa had magical powers to freeze things.

One day, both princesses needed the bathroom at the same time. The only problem was that they only had one bathroom in the whole castle.

They had a huge fight about who would go first. 

"I really need to go first"said Anna. 

"No, I do" said Elsa.

They could not decide what to do and kept fighting to go first. They tried to both go at once but they could not both fit on the toilet seat. They  They played rock, paper, scissors. That didn't work- that game is too difficult.

Then Elsa had a bright idea and used her magic powers to create a spectacular bathroom made entirely out of ice. Even the toilet was made out of ice. But nobody wanted to use it because they didn't want to get their bottoms frozen. They also did not know how it would flush because the water would just freeze.

They went to Prince Hans' house to see if one of them could use his bathroom but he didn't have one. Olaf didn't have a toilet either- he didn't even have a house. Neither did anyone else in the entire kingdom. Some people were not at home when they went so they don't know if those people had toilets.

By the time they got back home Anna could not hold it back any more. She had an accident. I guess she "let it go" and there was a big puddle on the palace floor. She started crying and felt very sad.

Elsa did not want to have an accident also so she ran to the bathroom and made a pee and a poo poo. Anna had a bath and put her clothes in the washing machine. She needed to put on other clothes. Anna put on a beautiful new sparkly purple dress with bows, diamonds, ribbons, flowers, lace and lots of pretty pictures drawn on it. Elsa put on her blue sparkly dress.
They both made their hair look pretty and went to the ball. Anna sprayed some perfume because she was still stinky. They danced, ate chocolate and had an amazing time. They lived happily ever after.
The End!"

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Jozi WAHM's Guide to Budget Outings with Kids in Jozi

As school holidays near, moms who are at home will be tasked with keeping children busy and stimulated. While there is plenty to do at home, cabin fever is likely to ensue at some point and a few outings are needed for your own sanity. Some fun places to take the kids can be found here (at a fee). Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford to splurge on expensive outings everyday, so here are some ideas on places to go with your kids without breaking the bank.

The park
It may be hard to believe, but there are a few nice FREE parks scattered around Johannesburg if you search hard enough.  Look out for those that have undergone the City of Joburg's Extreme Park Makeover challenge. We have a park within walking distance which is okay, but some of our favourites are Mushroom Park in the middle of Sandton (opposite the Radisson Hotel) and Rose Park in Lenasia.

The great outdoors
Jozi was once said to be the greenest city with the most open areas in the world (I am not sure if that record still stands) and we have plenty of nature in the city. 

The Zoo Lake, Delta Park (both of which have amazing play areas), Emmarentia Dam and accompanying botanical gardens, the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, the Melville Koppies (which has weekend tours), the Bunny Park in Benoni and Rietvlei Dam in the south of Johannesburg are some that come to mind. 

Note: some of these charge a nominal entrance fee, while most are completely free (save for maybe some stale bread to feed ducks with).
Play area at Delta Park
Zoo Lake play area

The library
There is no better gift to a child than instilling a love of reading and a membership at your local municipal library is absolutely free for children and no longer even requires payment of a membership fee and will allow little ones to take out three books. Despite many of the books showing their age, there is a great variety of books to choose from and children will be happy with the selection.

One proviso- if your child is not old enough to stay quiet for a few minutes, a trip to the library is likely to earn you the stare of death for anyone seeking solitude there. While Noodle eagerly looks forward to library trips, I think it will still be a while until I am ready to brave a trip to the library with Squish.

Kid's Section at Emmarentia Library

Your local public swimming pools
We are lucky enough to have a pool at home, but if you do not, a trip to the local public swimming pool can be great fun for kids.

Ice-cream
 An ice-cream cone at franchises like KFC, Steers or McDonald's is still under R5. For most kids, a trip to get ice-cream is a treat in itself. 

Volunteering
For older kids, it is a good idea to get them involved in some kind of volunteer work, whether it be on a formal basis or even just helping out a neighbour. 

P.S. Jozi WAHM would love to here some of your suggestions for budget trips in and around Johannesburg, so please do share some of these in the comments section.

We are also now on Bloglovin and would love if you would follow us there.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Senses Game

Sometimes I run out of activities to do with the kids. Noodle was bored yesterday afternoon and this was what I came up with (I think I might have done this at some point as a child). My activities usually have some kind of theme and today it was using ones five senses (two of them anyway, taste and smell).

TASTING GAME
 
Sprinkles, chocolate chips, almond, custard tasters
I took an ice tray and put one item to taste in each hole. We had an almond, a chocolate chip, some cake sprinkles, lemon juice, coconut oil, an ice cube, a blob of plain yoghurt and a little custard. Then I put on a blindfold for Noodle. She was allowed to feel and taste each item but not see them. 

Noodle did remarkably well, having guessed all except the lemon juice (which she said was vinegar) and the cake sprinkles, which she said was sugar (technically correct I guess). For the almond, she said it was a nut and when I asked her what kind of nut, in typical Noodle style, she said 'a very hard one'. Squish also enjoyed tasting each item. 

For older kids, you could adapt this to show them how different parts of their tongues have different taste receptors (sweet, sour etc) and also ask them to block their noses to demonstrate how ones nose also plays a part in tasting.

SNIFFING GAME
The smelling part of the game lasted significantly longer than the tasting segment. I blindfolded her again and let her smell some perfume, the coconut oil she had tasted earlier, her own shoe, her shampoo, toothpaste, some baby lotion, some spices, peanut butter, raw onion, coffee beans and some mint leaves (but any non-toxic, strong smelling substance will do). Again, she did remarkably well and only faltered on the peanut butter.

I think it will be interesting to do the other senses as well, but that is an activity for another day.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Kitchen fun with Squish

There is not much that captures the attention of a thirteen month old for any length of time, but this very simple activity is one of my favourites with Squish.
 
Colourful plates, cups and bowls provide hours of stimulation for a toddler
I guess one could call it a simplistic Montessori type practical life exercise. I throw an assortment of plastic tupperwares, plates, bowls, spatulas, measuring cups etc. onto a large blanket and let him go wild. You will see that the food cups from our friends at Nuk made their way into the picture as well.

Most of the time, this activity is reserved for when I want Squish to entertain himself while I get some work done. In fact, he is playing with his plates and bowls as I type this (today, some different coloured golf balls were tossed into different coloured bowls, but sometimes a few large lego blocks or silicone muffin cups are added to the mix). I stick to large items with no possibility of being swallowed.

While he enjoys just jumbling them up or banging them together on his own, we also use them for more structured activities:

Colours

I help him to group items that are the same colour together and attempt to get him to repeat the colour names. So far we just have ehhhd (red) and boooo (blue).

Sorting

I get him to stack like objects together, eg. all the bowls or all the plates.

Counting

We count the objects as we go along. For now, his version goes "toooooo, teeeee, ten".

Language

As we go along, I name the objects, eg. plate or cup and ask him to pass me specific items.

Imagination

A thirteen month old does not engage in too much imaginative play yet, but Squish pretends to eat from the dishes or feed me and moves imaginary food from one container to the next.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Ten Things I only Discovered after Two Babies

You would have thought that, being an educated and involved mother, I would know everything there was to know about babies after having the first one. It turns out, that after Squish was born, I discovered smarter, simpler ways to do various things. 

Hopefully, some of these epiphanies can help other new mothers to do things the easy way.

Disposable food pouches

When Noodle was a baby, the only ready made baby food was the jar variety. The newer tube varieties (like the Pure Squish brand) taste much better and are far more convenient to transport around. You can even buy little screw on spoons that attach to the tube. (P.S. In case you were wondering, that is not where Squish got his nickname from, but that is a story for another day).








Envelope vests

I always thought the wide foldback necks were there so that it is easier to get the vests over soft little heads. It turns out that they are designed so that you can pull them downwards and off babies legs in the event of emergency nappy blowouts. Who knew?


 Using disposable nappies for clean ups

Speaking of emergency nappy blowouts, when you have a baby, you are likely to face clean up of all sorts of revolting bodily fluids. I have discovered that using a (clean) disposable nappy works well to clean up the bulk of the mess. I keep the annoying ones where the side tabs have fallen off handy for this purpose. Then for sanitising and deodorising, tea tree oil, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar work better than most commercial cleaners.
  
Facebook mommy groups

I am not sure if these were around when Noodle was born, but a lot of moms benefit from having experienced mommies on hand to give immediate advice on baby related dramas. These are typically closed or secret groups so that embarrassing threads do not show up on ones facebook feed.

Breastfeeding

One would think that as a mother, this would come naturally and intuitively, but I discovered the hard way that this is not the case. I only breastfed Noodle for about a month before my supply diminished, causing her to reject any attempts at breastfeeding. This was probably due to a combination of formula top ups in hospital and me not having the right information on how to keep my supply up.

Thanks to better education the second time round, I discovered that formula top ups and a rigid three hour feeding schedule were a sure way to diminish supply. Facebook mommy groups were a saving grace in those early days with a wealth of information on how to successfully breastfeed. Squish on the other hand is still breastfed at almost fourteen months. 

Removing Super Glue

Being our resident Doc Mcstuffins toy fixer, I have discovered that if you ever get your fingers stuck with superglue, petroleum jelly can be used to painlessly remove it. Store this information in your memory bank as it is hard to Google things with your hands glued together.

Wonder weeks

When Noodle was a baby I had not even heard of the Wonder Weeks (these are weeks when babies universally appear to make mental leaps in their development, which often coincides with fussy and cranky behaviour. With Squish, they have been remarkably accurate and quite useful in making sense of bad weeks.

Baby led weaning

This basically means letting your baby feed themselves sticks of solids from the time they start solids and skipping the mushy purees completely. Babies learn to chew first and then swallow (as opposed to with purees where they learn to swallow first and chew later).

The idea seems counter-intuitive and even scary (if you do not know the distinction between gagging and choking), but I discovered that this method of introducing solids is easier for both mother and baby (and less messy). Yes, I know I spoke about the food pouches earlier in this post, which would have BLW purists burn me at the stake, but those were only there for quick snacks on the go (or super lazy days).

By eight months old, Squish was happily eating what the rest of the family eats, with very little assistance and many hours were saved steaming, blending and freezing baby foods. 

Sleep Training

When Noodle was born back in 2010, sleep training was very popular. As desperate sleep deprived zombies, we tried sleep training for one night with Noodle when she was about eight months old. It was an epic failure. My poor baby was hoarse from crying, physically ill the next day and it did not help her sleep any better. Guilt-ridden, we refused to do it for another night and our gut instincts as parents told us that we should not be doing this. More recent research shows that crying it out methods of sleep training can cause long-term psychological damage to little ones. I am glad we stopped when we did with Noodle and that we knew better by the time Squish came along.
 
Gelatine tea

A tablespoon of gelatin is added to boiling hot tea or coffee and consumed immediately, at least once or twice a day. Some claim not to notice the taste but I think it tastes aweful and the texture is not very pleasant either.

I noticed slight results but did not persevere too long due to the taste, but I have met many mommies who swear by gelatine tea as a remedy for stretch marks and saggy skin. (Note: Gelatine is available in the baking isle at most supermarkets or for SANHA approved Halaal gelatine, look at Muslim owned spice shops).

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Fun Food with The Olive Branch Cookery School

You may have gathered from previous posts that I am always on the look out for fun and interesting ways to present food to encourage Noodle and Squish to eat a healthy and varied diet. 

I was in luck. At the recent Mom Blog Meet, we were privileged to witness a demonstration by Margy Vally on how to make quick, easy and fun kiddies foods. As an added bonus, most of these are simple enough for me to get Noodle involved in helping me to make them.

Margy Vally of The Olive Branch Cookery School
Margy is the executive director and chef of the Olive Branch  Cookery School in Fourways, which hosts a variety of exciting cooking classes in their spacious and well equipped kitchen.Her lessons, which were done together with her son, were humorous and spontaneous. These fun dishes were created using some of Nuk's new range of toddler feeding utensils (they no longer just do baby stuff).

Some of the lovely recipes which she shared with us are set out below. 

She did some fruit skewers on sticks (something we have been doing at home for a while). This is not quite a recipe, it just requires cutting or balling fruit and placing on a skewer.
 
She also did some frozen yoghurt lollies. Her recipe is below, but I often do the same, taking a short cut by substituting the fresh fruit with a pouch of baby food fruit (like the Ella's Kitchen pouches we were gifted with on the day).

Frozen Mango and Yoghurt on a Stick

Ingredients:

300g full cream yoghurt plain
2 medium mangos, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks.

Method:
 
Place into a processor and blitz until smooth. Pour into ice cream moulds, put a lolly stick into each mould and then freeze until required.
N.B. You could also use strawberries or plums.

I grew up with the spicy Indian version of egg bread, beda vari- which is similar to the Western version but more savoury and typically includes salt and various spices such as chillies, cumin and coriander in the egg dip (try it, it is yummy!). As a teenager, I thought it was bizarre when I saw people in restaurants drizzling syrup over their French toast and it is only in my adult life that I discovered that not all egg bread is spicy and salty. The one below certainly is not.
 
Eggy Toast with Syrup and Banana

Ingredients:

2 slices bread white or brown
1 egg, beaten, seasoned with sea salt
20g butter
cinnamon and sugar
Drizzle of Syrup
1 banana, peeled and sliced

Method:

Cut out shapes you desire. Dip into the beaten egg. Melt butter in a frying pan and gently fry
until golden. Place onto dish sprinkle with cinnamon sugar , drizzle with syrup and topped
with sliced banana.

Frozen mango and yoghurt lolly and Eggy Toast with Banana (divided bowl by Nuk)
My children are not too fond of lettuce, but perhaps Margy's recipe below could sway them otherwise.

Chicken and Corn Lettuce Boats

Ingredients:

60g chicken, cooked and diced
30ml mayonnaise
Squeeze of lemon juice
10g frozen sweet corn
½ tomato, diced
½ red pepper, diced
1 spring onion, diced
sea salt and black pepper
6 iceburg lettuce leaves

Method: 

Mix all filling ingredients together and place into the lettuce leaves. Make a little sail for your boat with a napkin and cocktail stick. You could use Tuna or salmon instead of chicken

Chicken and corn lettuce boat
I cannot wait to try the below recipe, which I am sure will be a hit in our household. I did not catch a picture of this one, but a fish shaped cutter is used to shape into a cute little fishy.

Fishy Cakes
 
Ingredients:

200g cooked hake (free from skin and bone)
200g mashed potatoes
1 yolk
1 egg
25g flour
50g fresh white bread crumbs

Method:

Combine the fish, potatoes and egg yolk. Add salt and pepper. Make into fish shapes. Coat with flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Deep fry for 2-3 minutes. Add a frozen pea for an eye. Could also be crab, salmon, or other white fish.

Every child loves crumbed chicken. I do a similar version to the below, but oven baked and with more spices.

Chicken Goujons

200g chicken breast cut into 10cm thick long strips
50g cake flour
2 eggs, beaten
100g fresh breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
A squeeze of lemon juice to taste
salad leaves to serve

Method:

1. Season the chicken.
2. Coat chicken with flour, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs.
3. Heat up a frying pan of oil and gently fry the Goujons until golden brown
4. Mix the lemon juice and mayonnaise and seasoning.
5. Serve with the Goujons and a few salad leaves.

The below is great for lunchboxes (I vary the ingredients though and use cherry tomatoes from my garden as Noodle does not really like regular tomatoes).

Rainbow Salad

2 tomatoes, large diced
1 cucumber, large diced
lettuce leaf, shredded
1 yellow pepper, de-seed, cut into large dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into batons
½ cup full cream yoghurt
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Method:

Place yoghurt in a bowl and mix in the basil and parsley
Layer your vegetables one at a time in a see through container. Put a container at the side to dip the vegetables.

The Might Mice below is a clever variation on the usual baked potato recipe. Margy says the secret is to bake rather than microwave the potatoes (which I must confess that I am sometimes guilty of).

Mighty Mice

4 large potatoes, washed and pricked
200ml cooked savoury mince or 200g can tuna drained
25ml butter
10ml milk
salt and pepper
100ml cheddar or mozzarella cheese grated

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C Place the potatoes onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Cool the potatoes, cut in half horizontally.
3. Scoop out flesh and place into a bowl add the butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash well together.
4. Stir in the mince or tuna. Place mixture back into the potato skins and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for a further 15 minutes.
5. Make your mice faces on top of the potato while it cools down enough to be eaten. Use raisins for the eyes, salami for ears, red pepper for mouth, spring onions for whiskers, parsley for hair and anything else you may have.

Mighty Mice Potato Boats













Bon appetit!