Monday, 30 November 2015

Some Crafty Ideas with Bostik

I have a confession to make. I am a stationery junkie. Back in my school days, I would salivate over all those back to school catalogue and owned every sort of pen from the fluorescent gel ones to the metallic ones. My daughter appears to have inherited this trait. So, when this amazing package from Bostik arrived for review (and Noodle was home when I opened it), you can imagine the reaction in our house. I mean... look at it... can you blame us?

As you know, we do a lot of art projects at home. In addition, Noodle starts grade R in January so I am sure all these glue sticks are really going to come in handy!

I have learnt from experience that glue sticks are something where you should not skimp on the ‘budget’ brands and to rather stick to the brands that work-like Bostik!

Bostik has been around as long as any of us can remember- more than fifty years in fact. However, they have now gotten a facelift with a sleek new look and a new tagline, “Smart Adhesives” to the one you already know (“don’t just stick it, Bostik it”).

Their new mascot is the adorable Gary the Gecko (you know, because Geckos are so remarkably good at clinging to just about any surface, just like some of the products). I bet you didn’t know that geckos can support their entire body weight on a single toe! 
We have not played with our new toys yet too much, except for the crayons and the glitter glue. I must say I love the design of the retractable wax twister crayons as it is easy for little ones to grip and they do not snap like regular wax crayons. 

The 4-in-one crayons are just so much fun and can be put to an infinite number of uses! We just had to try it out, so Noodle drew a Minion (the obsession has not gone away yet) and even I did a little two minute doodle.

The glitter glue is of great quality and has just the right ratio of glitter to glue (unlike some others that I have used before that hardly have any glitter, or don't stick to the paper properly).

I drew a stick figure princess in pencil and let Noodle practice her tracing skills using the glitter glue.

This week, we plan to do teacher appreciation cards (to go with some store-bought gifts we bought). The plan is to make scratch art cards using the awesome retractable wax crayons.

Here is how:
  •  Colour thin stripes of colour onto cardboard or paper so that the entire card is covered in crayon. Use lots of colours- bright colours work best.
  • Cover the entire surface with a thick layer of black poster paint until you cannot see the crayon underneath. 
  • Allow to dry.
  • Scratch away your desired message/ picture with a toothpick or skewer.

Easy! We will of course be wrapping the gifts using the awesome Bostik tape received and then sticking the card on using the Bostik Prestik (which is a staple in our home). Of course, the glitter glue will be used to add some extra sparkle.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Sandcastles And Snowmen- A Personal Search for Spirituality

I have received a few books from FB Publishers for review and I am so excited each time I do since their books are so different from the norm and always so enlightening. Sandcastles And Snowmen- A Personal Search for Spirituality by Egyptian author and international public speaker Sahar El-Nadi did not disappoint.

I had eagerly been planning to read this book for a month but had to put it on hold due to urgent work commitments that were taking up most of my time. However, I think when I did actually read the book, it was at a time when it was most beneficial to me.

You see, being a Muslim in this day and age often means a bit of an identity crisis. There is  a dichotomy between what I know and believe to be a religion of peace, love and tolerance and all the negativity portrayed in the media about Muslims, made worse by a minority of so-called Muslims who perpetrate horrendous acts of hatred and violence. My heart (and those of billions of peace loving Muslims globally) sinks every time I hear of acts of terror in the name of Islam and we weep with the rest of the world when there is a loss of lives. This week's attacks on Paris and various other places was no different. Of course, when these things happen, supposedly in the name of your religion, it forces some introspection into what it really means to be a Muslim and whether the cowardly acts of a few can in any way be reconciled with this (the answer of course being no). By now you are probably wondering what all this rambling has to do with the book I read?
Sahar tells the story of her journey towards spirituality. She was born in Egypt, where, despite being a predominantly Muslim country, the practice of Islam was frowned upon (something which I was certainly unaware of). Although born Muslim, Sahar went to a Catholic school and led a glitzy jet-setting life in fashion and media. She only truly discovered religion and spirituality in the form of Islam in her thirties. She writes about about this journey in a profoundly beautiful manner and in the process shares both her scientific research and emotional findings of what Islam is really all about. 

Sahar explains in detailed but simple terms what Islam really is, where it comes from and how Muslims are in fact expected to conduct themselves (as opposed to how many Muslims in fact do behave). She answers in elquent terms two of the existential questions that my four year old has been asking me recently, namely why were we created or why a God that is loving would allow pain and suffering in the world

She debunks various myths relating to Islam and issues like women's rights, animal rights, politics and what is allowed in war. For example, she shares stories of the prophet Mohamed's friendship with people of all religions and how in times of war (which were carried out through necessity and not hate), it was forbidden to hurt women, children or the elderly or to destroy property or nature. In times of war, it was even ordered that any captives were to be fed the best of food, even if it meant that the prophet's own people went without and that they were entitled to the best medical care. This of course is a total contrast to some of the events we see in this day and age. 

She shares ideas for how inter-cultural barriers can be broken and how to encourage communication and understanding across different religious and social backgrounds in a peaceful and productive manner.

Why the title? Sandcastles and snowmen, although from completely different climates, are both a child's innocent attempt at turning something abstract into a tangible reality, just as adults do when trying to build a life. 

However, as with life, neither sandcastles nor snowmen are permanent and both will return to where they came from. Put simply, this book is all about finding the meaning of life before it comes to an end

I would recommend this book to any Muslim person who seeks some spiritual enrichment or wants a refresher on what it really means to be Muslim and I would recommend it even more so to non-Muslims who wish to find out what the religion is really about as opposed to what the media portrays it to be.

If you are keen to read the book, it can be purchased on Amazon. Alternatively (for my South African readers) I have spotted it at the local CII store. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

My Kids Learnt About Science and They Liked It!

This weekend we decided to take the kids for an impromptu trip to Sci-bono Discovery Centre in Newtown. I was here a few years ago for a work related event, so I knew this place is amazing (and far less geeky than it sounds) but was not sure if my kids were perhaps too young to appreciate it. We expected to be in and out in an hour but to our surprise found ourselves dragging the kids out four hours later!

For those of you that don't know, Sci-bono is a learning centre in central Johannesburg where children (and adults) can learn about maths science and technology through interactive models that are so much fun, that the little ones do not even realise that they are grasping complex scientific principles. Almost all the models have buttons to press or dials to turn, which the children loved. I think I absorbed a little bit of knowledge too!

On the ground floor is a huge Murray and Roberts construction site where little ones can don construction vests and hard hats and build their own life-sized structures using foam bricks and cement and real wheel-barrows, pulleys and other equipment. I could not get Noodle out of here and we were back for a second go before leaving. Noodle loved being able to operate a real crane (the task required moving a foam brick from one corner to another.

The gigantic Lego area just next to the construction zone was also a hit- as was expected.

The ground floor had all sorts of mining displays explaining how different minerals are mined and what they look like when they come out of the ground. Noodle loved this as she has had a strange fascination with mining lately.

Then there is a BMW display where you can see practically how all the components of a car work internally (eg. how the brakes move, how the engine works or what makes the wheels of the car move). There are interactive displays with knobs and buttons for the kids to fiddle with to learn all of this. 

The below shows how indicators work.

I know now how the cam belt, spark plugs and carburetor work.  There is even a real car with clear doors and bonnet so that you can see all the internal workings.

Upstairs the kids can learn all sorts of things, from how the body works, how sound is produced, all about optical illusions to various physics and chemistry principles. I think Noodle grasped some of the concepts, while Squish just enjoyed pressing lots of buttons and knobs and learning about cause and effect.They both loved the hot air balloon that they could press a button to inflate with hot air and shoot up three floors.

A robotic dinosaur display was definitely a hit. I also saw that there is a planetarium coming soon!  

There was a physics show that Squish seemed to enjoy the most. The show largely involved creating explosions of various sorts, creating a real rocket and even the science of ummm... farts.

If you are looking for something fun to do with the kids in Jozi, this should definitely be on your list. Noodle rates this spot as better than Gold Reef City and Bambanani, her two other favourite spots in Jozi.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

We Love Yoghurt- Yummy Nutriday Yoghurt Recipes and More!

In our household, yoghurt is consumed in one way or another most days. Squish has yoghurt with fruit or muesli for breakfast about half the time and the rest of us have it as healthy snacks and I often use it in cooking and sometimes even desserts. 

I am a big fan of the Nutriday one with the strawberry chunks as a snack, but plain yoghurt has all sorts of applications in our house (especially since many Indian dishes are consumed with dhai, a spicy yoghurt side dish made of yoghurt or sour milk- I use yoghurt as it is much creamier).

This weekend, we were surprised by this amazing blog drop from Danone Nutriday- a huge cooler bag filled to the brim with a selection of Nutriday's new range, which has a new improved recipe and an external face lift too!!! 

The range now comes in three new cup sizes. I love the fact that there is now a bigger one to take on the move than the ones that come in the six packs (which are just right for the kids but which I sometimes found myself eating two of- I am not sure if that makes me greedy). When I saw the shape of these new containers, which are made of quite a sturdy plastic, I immediately thought of creative art applications for the containers once their contents have been devoured- I will keep you posted on what I decide to do with the containers.

I discovered some interesting facts about the yoghurt too. Did you know that because of the enzymes contained, most lactose intolerant people can still consume yoghurt? Or that
in addition to calcium and protein, NutriDay yoghurt is a source of Vitamins A, B, D & E- essential nutrients needed by your body every day!

The folks at Danone Nutriday have shared some awesome recipe cards which you can save and print for later use.I haven't tried them all yet but look forward to doing so in the near future. 


Monday, 16 November 2015

Introducing Frank and Miss- Little Threads For Little Ones

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the launch party for the exciting new Frank and Miss Clothing range, a beautiful new range of clothing for little people designed to be comfortable and practical, allowing kids to be kids while looking super cute. Most importantly- their pieces are priced very reasonably (bearing in mind that these are bespoke items). Here are some of their beautiful pieces:

Their range is a mix of baby stuff and clothes for older kids, both for every day and for special occasions- practical but different enough for your angels to stand out from the crowd. They also specialise in wedding attire- think pretty flower girl dresses without all the fuss and scratchy taffeta. They do beautiful everyday dresses too- just look at these!

The passion and enthusiasm that Elli and Claire, the two lovely ladies behind this proudly South African collaboration, is apparent. Claire's own beautiful pigeon pair were the perfect models for the range, sporting Frank and Miss couture at the launch party.

What I thought was quite a nice concept is that they also do matching sibling outfits, e.g. a dress for sister with a shirt with a matching bow tie in the same fabric for brothers. Noodle is going through a phase where she likes to match her baby brother (for example I dressed Squish in a nautical navy and white striped top for the party so she rushed to fetch her dress with navy and white stripes). I know the matchy-matchy idea would get her stamp of approval!
The party was a child-friendly event, set at the lovely Happily Ever Laughter in Bedfordview. If you are looking for a great child friendly restaurant in the East Rand, this one is sure to be a hit with the little ones- I know Noodle and Squish certainly enjoyed it! I think the live minion at the venue was a highlight for them (although Squish was a bit conflicted- he loves Minions but is a bit wary of characters in suits).

Thank you to Frank and Miss for hosting us!

Noodle and Squish left the party with their very own adorable Frank and Miss t-shirts, which they love.

I am sure you are dying to know where you can get hold of this stunning range for your little ones. You can order your Frank and Miss couture from their website (click on the link to be directed their online store). They deliver across South Africa.