Monday, 25 April 2016

The Battle of the Dry Shampoo

I have very oily hair. The kind that you could probably deep fry food in if I don't wash it at least every second day. By day two it is very oily, so I have been looking for ways to keep it looking semi-decent by the second day. However, I have quite long hair so the tips get too dry if I wash it every day (not that I have time for that anyway).  This prompted my exploration of the dry shampoo market. 

tressemme batiste

Here is what I found: 

Home Made Dry Shampoo

I have tried a recipe for home made dry shampoo, which consists of mixing equal parts of cornstarch and cocoa powder (omit the cocoa powder for lighter coloured hair). This sort of worked for getting the oiliness out but I did not really like the smell in my hair and I had bees after me (this may or may not have been due to my chocolate aroma). It was also not very easy to dust out.

Beauty Formulas Dry Shampoo

This one was quite a cheap dry shampoo which I found at Dischem. It comes out as a spray and does help with oiliness. However, it left a LOT of white residue which did not come out easily so I was left with what looked like a dandruff explosion.
TRESseme Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo

This one comes highly rated, is available pretty much all over the show and is not badly priced at all. It has a fresh smell and comes out as a mousse-like foam. Unfortunately, this one did not work particularly well for me. While it did not leave too much white residue (unlike other products), the product left my hair wet, defeating the purpose of having a dry shampoo (my hair gets wavy once it gets wet, so if I have straightened the previous day, this product undoes all that hard work). In addition, it was not very effective at removing greasiness and my hair still looked and felt limp and oily after using it.

Batiste Dry Shampoo Dark Hair

I have read a few blog posts raving about this product so I had to try it out for myself. This product seems to only be available at Clicks (though I stand to be corrected) and comes in several variants, including exotically scented ones. I selected the one for dark hair as I hoped this would eliminate white residue issues. My findings? It was excellent at removing greasiness. My hair looked and felt freshly washed and had more volume than usual and I was able to leave my hair loose. However, the dark brown colour is significantly lighter than my natural hair colour, which is somewhere between black and brown, so I had to spend a few minutes dusting the powder out of my hair. The brown powder is quite messy and left my bathroom basin in a tragic state. I suspect that the brown colour may rub off onto light coloured clothing/ pillowcases etc. That having been said, this is the most effective product I have found so far and is good for mornings that you need hair that looks freshly washed and have no time to spare. 

What dry shampoos have you experimented with? Which did you like best and which sent you running for the hills? Please let me know.

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. All products were personally purchased for my own use.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Battle of the Zzzzzzzz's

You know those weeks where time just seems to vanish and everything just seems chaotic? This is that week. We are still battling with chronic sleep deprivation. I am convinced that my children hold secret board meetings where they elect who will serve as head of sleep disruption for that week. 

There are tons of resources out there on how to deal with infants who do not sleep. However, when your babies are five and two, things get more complicated.

Squish was a terrible sleeper for the first two years but he has slept relatively well since we weaned him off breastfeeding a few months ago. However, at five, we still have on and off patches as far as sleep is concerned with Noodle and we have tried everything under the sun to get this under control. Trust me... everything. Finally, this past week, she has slept relatively well (except for last night when the thunder kept waking her, the night when we had an attack of crazy mosquitoes and the night when our neighbours decided that they would blast music loud enough to rattle our windows). Despite some disruptions, she slept most nights this past week. So of course, Squish  decided that he had to take over the sleepless routine. Some days he had extra long day time naps so he just has not slept. Other nights, he refused to sleep in his cot, opting for sleeping in our bed (across our heads) instead.  Maybe it is time to move him to a big boy bed of his own.

After over five years of not sleeping, you would think I would get used to it but honestly I feel like I am running on autopilot. Sleep deprivation does strange things to me- it makes me feel dizzy, tired and anxious overall and I have mini panic attacks thinking about things I might potentially do in my sleep deprived state (like fall asleep behind the wheel). It is a vicious cycle- when I finally get a chance to sleep, my mind is over active, conjuring up amazing ideas for things I would like to accomplish the next day. Then, when the next day comes, I am simply too tired to implement my ingenius ideas. 

Has anyone else battled with sleepless older children? How did you deal with this? Also, where can I purchase a caffeine drip?

Monday, 18 April 2016

Five Minute Meal Ideas for Kids

My little ones are always hungry. I mean, constantly. Even though I pack healthy lunches for them to take to school/ creche,  they are often famished when they get home. As our time is limited between getting home and dropping Noodle to her afternoon classes, meals are usually rushed. Here are some of my quick meal ideas that can be made in about five minutes:

1. Eggs

My little ones love eggs in every form and it is a great protein source (especially for my son who seldom eats meat). Boiled, scrambled, poached, sunny side up or in an omelette, these are quick and easy to make and go down well as a quick any time of day meal.

2. Wraps

I like keeping a pack of wholewheat wraps in the fridge as they are quite versatile for a quick meal. Our usual fillings include leftovers, cheese, tuna, cottage cheese and various salad bits.

3. Two minute noodles

I admit that these are not the most nutritious of meals. However, they are quick and easy and I up the nutrient content by replacing the sachets that come with them with a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and add loads of herbs, a bit of spice and whatever veggies I can sneak in there (cherry tomatoes and peppers do not raise any objections from the little ones).

4. Toasted sandwiches

Again, how healthy these are depends on the bread and the toppings that you use but the possibilities are endless.

5. Avocado boats

My daughter will not touch avo but my son loves these. I just slice the avocado in half, remove the pit and add a filling. Typical fillings include grated cheese, cottage cheese, salad, tuna or sweetcorn. 

 6. Tuna Salad

This is a staple for Noodle and is quick and easy.  I open a tin of tuna and add a little bit of mayonnaise, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce and then add whatever salad bits I can get away with sneaking in.
I also blogged about other quick and easy kids meals some time back- for more ideas, please have a look here.  

What are some of your favourite quick meal ideas which are child friendly? Please comment below. 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Why Women Need Lots of Clothes (and Shoes)

If I had a Pound (I would say Rand, but they just aren't worth that much anymore) for each time my husband asked me why I need so much clothes and shoes, I would have to change my surname to Gupta.

Yes, from a man's perspective, the female urge to own lots of items of clothing might seem self-indulgent or narcissistic. I acknowledge that it might seem like I have to much stuff if one glances into my wardrobe but most people I know of the female species are similar to me. Really, as women, we are just being practical. For men it is simple, a few shirts and trousers for work and some t-shirts and jeans for weekends, formal shoes for work and sneakers for the weekend- pick whatever is at the top and done. For women, the decision as to what to wear is often more complicated and multiple options are needed. 

Firstly, different occasions call for different clothing, we need stuff that is casual, stuff that is more businesslike, stuff for special occasions, stuff that is casual but looks sophisticated, stuff that we can move around in easily for days that we are very physically active and they are all different. Then, we have different needs due to our unique anatomies. Some clothes need a layer underneath or over to avoid boob leakage all over the place. We have fat days and skinny days and our body weight fluctuates over the course of a month. Some days we feel confident and want to dress up and feel divalicious while others we just want to hide under baggy clothes. Some days, the staples that we want to wear frequently are dirty and in the washing so we need more than one similar item. 

Sometimes, the clothes we buy are hopelessly out of fashion but we are convinced that they will be back in fashion next season so hang on to it. Sometimes we buy things and then realise that they don't go with anything else we own but can't throw it out because it is brand new and gorgeous. Sometimes we are delusional and convinced that the beautiful top not being worn today because it highlights all the tummy rolls and makes us look like pumpkins will magically fit tomorrow. Between having babies and breastfeeding, my weight has fluctuated a lot in the past few years and I feel bad throwing everything out when I think there is a possibility that it will fit again in a few months.

Different clothes call for different shoes- some trousers and dresses can only be worn with heels due to their lengths, while others call for flats. We need different types of shoes, in summer, we like to air our feet out in sandals. In winter, we like to keep them warm in boots. Then there are those days where our feet are a little cold but it is still not winter so we would look silly in boots so pumps are needed. Our sandals, pumps, sneakers and boots all need to come in formal and casual variants, depending on the activity planned for that day. We obviously need all of these in more than one colour, to match our clothes. Right?

Here are some of the ways I keep the amount of clothes I have in check:

1. Do a cupboard clean up at the turn of each season so that the stuff that I will need are easily accessible. At this point I also add anything that will never fit again, will never be fashionable again or which is worn out to the charity pile.
2. For every new item of clothing I purchase, one old item goes into the charity pile (see, I am contributing to the economy and clothing the needy).  

Comment below if you are a woman with lots and lots of clothes but nothing to wear.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Totally Delectable Oreo Lasagne

My son has been begging me to buy Oreos for a few weeks now. He reminded me again when I fetched him yesterday and he added a pweddy pweeese with a cherry on top and a wet toddler smooch, so I finally caved. I decided that I would surprise him today with some Oreo Lasagne. 

I love making fridge desserts since they are fairly flop proof even if you do not follow a recipe. I remember seeing an Oreo lasagne recipe somewhere before but did not save it so this one is my version of it. This takes literally five minutes of preparation time before setting in the fridge.

You will need:
  •  two boxes of Oreos;
  • one packet of instant vanilla dessert (I used the Moirs one);
  • whipped cream for topping;
  • About 250ml of custard (this could store bought or you could make your own if you prefer but then it won't take five minutes- I used UltraMel).
  • chocolate of your choice for grating (I use Cadbury Dairy Milk or Bournville).

1. Start by greasing a rectangular pyrex dish, the type that you would use for regular lasagne.
2. Prepare the instant pudding according to instructions on the box. (Mine only required adding to 400ml of  milk and then blending for a minute).
3. Put a very thin layer of instant pudding , just enough to coat the dish. 
4. Cover in a layer of Oreos. You can leave them whole or crush them first, depending on the texture you prefer. I left mine whole.
5.Cover this in the remaining instant pudding. 
6. Cover this in another layer of Oreos.
7. Pour custard over the second layer of Oreos until all are coated. At this point you could also add some more chocolate, sweets or nuts if you are feeling extra decadent.
8. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
9. Top with whipped cream and grate chocolate on top as you would grate cheese on regular lasagne.
10. Eat!!! 

Speaking of Oreos, they are currently running a fabulous competition.

Three families can win a trip to New York. To enter you need to buy a box of Oreos (the 176g or 429g one) and sms the last 5 digits of the barcode to 40185 or enter at

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Making Sense of Public School Enrollments for 2017

It is that time of year again- time for school enrollments. We went through the drill last year, but as we enter grade 1 next year, we need to go through the admission process all over again- only this time there is a bit of a twist.

In previous years, to get into the 'better' public schools in Johannesburg, this meant queuing for hours before, sometimes overnight, to get an early number on the admissions list. Last year, myself, hubby and grandmother all queued up at different schools at the crack of dawn on a freezing cold day (which incidentally coincided with a massive electricity outage). This year, we may be saved from the queuing to some degree as the process moves online. 

Unfortunately, the process is not widely advertised and somewhat unclear. After hours of internet searching and phoning around nearby schools, I got a few conflicting versions until
I came up with the below and thought I would share it with readers who may be in a similar boat. It seems that the process is as follows:

1.  You log onto
2. Register as a site user. You can only register from 11 April 2016 to 18 April 2016.
3.  From 19 April 2016 to 1 June 2016 you can apply online for the school of your choice, using either your home or work address. You will receive a waiting list number via sms.
4. You then drop off all supporting documentation and proof of your application to the school. 
5. The school processes the remainder of the application. You will receive an sms once this has been processed. 
6. Wait and hope for the best.

(Disclaimer: I take no legal responsibility for the correctness of the information above, this is just what I have been able to establish with a bit of research).

While I am all for technology, I have mixed feelings about the new online system. On the one hand, not having to queue makes sense and in theory, the process should be more equitable as there is an electronic trail of any irregularities in applications. On the other hand, it has me worried about all sorts of scenarios. What happens if the system crashes? What happens if only some people can access the system or information is lost, gets hacked or some other issue is encountered? What about people who do not have internet access? There is also rumor that you will only be able to apply for schools in your direct feeder area (As opposed to before, where you were put on a 'B' list. All this has me in a bit of a panic.

Good luck to all who need to apply. If anyone has more information that I do, please comment below. 


By now most of you would have figured that the system crashed on Monday and has re-opened today for registration. There are actual details as to how the process works on the GDE website now.

You can now register as a user on the system and also capture your child's details. (I managed to do this without hassle this morning after almost throwing my laptop at a wall on Monday, when the site was completely unresponsive.)

Please check your details again after it is captured as it seems that a lot of profiles are defaulting to incorrect provinces.

On Moday, hopefully we will all be able to submit the actual applications online. According to the webiste, applications open at 8 a.m.    

Monday, 4 April 2016

Baby On Its Way? The Truth About What to Buy...

Are you expecting and looking for the ultimate newborn shopping list? Then please look elsewhere- there are tons of lists online telling you what you should and should not buy before having a baby. 

The unfortunate truth is, first time parents are absolute suckers (I know, I have been there) and although you might think you need every gimmick on the market, you actually don't. Some unnecessary gadgets are easy to spot even for newbies (for example, we went to a baby expo before Noodle was born and a lady tried to sell us a very pricey bucket... I kid you not... a regular bucket... saying that it was a hi-tech baby bath that cocoons the baby in a cosy foetal position and it even doubles up as a stepping stool once baby can walk). We know you saw right through the six month baby massage subscription (mind you, a mommy massage subscription is a different ball game entirely) and the cot with the built in iPod. However, some unnecessary gadgets are more subtle- the tiny bassinet and the electric bottle warmer may seem like perfectly reasonable purchases before baby is born.

In addition, every child is so completely different that half of what you buy might be a complete waste. Trust me, tiny as a newborn is, they already have unique needs which may differ from that of your sister, neighbour or best friend's baby. Even between my pigeon pair, what worked best each time was quite different. Here are some stories of what we did right... and what we did wrong.

Before Noodle was born, the advice we were given is that since nappies are so expensive, we should start stocking up a few month's in advance, buying a pack or two each time there was a special. Here is the problem with that theory- each baby uses a different amount of nappies and grows at different rates, so you will not know in advance how much of each size to buy. In addition, many babies are sensitive or even completely allergic to certain brands. Some babies leak in some brands and not in others, depending on their stature. Some moms hate the smell of certain nappy brands or perhaps you will discover that you like modern cloth nappies better. Moral of the story- buy enough for the first few weeks (size zero and size one) and then figure out what you like from there. Bear in mind that if you give birth at a private hospital or belong to certain rewards programmes, you are likely to score some free nappy samples from them. 

Then there are prams. There are hundred on the market and they all cost an arm and a leg. The truth is, while we used the car seat/ rocker that came with it as part of a travel system, the actual stroller got used less than a dozen times (and that is probably a generous estimate) for each of my two little ones. While our one seemed ridiculously easy to open and close when the salesperson at the baby store demonstrated it, I later discovered that this was not the case while carrying a screaming baby in one arm and groceries in the other. Also, once it went in my smallish boot, there was no space for anything else. Some people swear by baby wraps or carriers as alternatives but I never quite got the hang of it. My suggestion- ask the salesperson if they can accompany you to load a demo model pram into your boot, so that you can see if it fits. Also, don't bother with a jogging pram- my crystal ball assures me that all dreams of going jogging with your baby are inevitably going to be shattered.

You probably have an idea as to whether you wish to bottle or breastfeed, but I would suggest having contingency plans for both and not investing too much into either option until baby is born and you know for sure what is going to work for both of you. You might spend thousands on an automatic double breast pump and nursing bras only to discover that you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason. Speaking of which, nursing bras are another item that you might want to delay stocking up on (enough for hospital will do) as it is very hard to predict how much your breast size will inflate once baby arrives. Conversely, you might buy tons of a certain type of bottle and all the equipment that goes with it, only to discover that your baby will not latch or that it gives your baby colic. (For Squish, we tried about five different bottle brands with the intention of using it for expressed breast milk but he would not drink from any of them. We also bought several different types of pacifiers and he would not take to any.) Once baby can drink other liquids, you may find yourself trying a few different sippy cups before finding one that your baby takes to and which does not leak everywhere.

Here is what we discovered about feeding chairs- babies are very messy eaters and so any feeding chair with non-removable fabric parts is going to be a disgusting germ haven and a nightmare to clean. By the time Squish was born, we replaced Noodle's cloth feeding chair (which was a health hazard) with one with only removable plastic parts.

Baby monitors are another interesting item which might either be a lifesaver or a very expensive mistake. I have heard a few parents saying it was a waste of time for them but I had two different experiences. We got a top of the range Angelcare monitor before Noodle was born and we used it religiously for the first six months. The breathing alarm actually went off two or three times in the early weeks- so it was a priceless investment. When Squish was born, he ended up co-sleeping with us for the first year, so the baby monitor was completely redundant. 

Try to examine things in person where possible before shopping for the best prices. We ended up buying Noodle a baby rocker online manufactured by a well known baby brand, which we returned the next day, because it did not rock.

As far as clothes go, chances are that you will find it hard to resist buying every adorable item spotted (I know I couldn't, especially the first time round... baby clothes are just so darn cute). Chances are though, that your relatives and friends feel  the same way and will spoil you with enough clothes to last for the first year. While baby shoes are irresistibly cute, they probably don't need them until they start walking, except in very cold weather. In fact, you will soon discover that babies detest shoes and that one of every cute pair will sneakily get thrown away by your bundle of joy each time  you leave the house. If only I had a penny for each time a kindhearted stranger stopped me at a shopping centre pointing out that my baby has dropped a shoe.

Another thing that you will discover is that babies hate being covered with blankets. With Noodle, we found that the zip up sleeping bags were the perfect solution for this dilemma. We stocked up on the pricey Babysense sleep bags for Squish (a favourite with Noodle), only to discover that he screamed hysterically and would not sleep until we freed him from what he perceived to be a straight jacket. Fleecy, full bodied onesies turned out to be a better solution for him.

I could go on all day with examples of how the needs and wants differ from one baby to another. Conclusion: Buy a little bit of all of the bare essentials and leave the rest until your little one is born and able to dictate his or her needs.