Ice Galaxy, the coolest place in the universe

TweetLast night the Thomas gang was invited to attend the opening of the Ice Galaxy at Canal Walk. This is something Danny has been wanting to do for so long, but we’ve never really found the time or energy to take him (yes, bad parents). And since the boys have been more challenging of late

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Christmas is Coming….

Keep Calm

Its no secret that Christmas is by far my most favourite time of the year.

Growing up I had the most amazing Christmas’s, from the tree decoration, to the atmosphere in our home around this time, till watching our annual movie (tradition). I love everything about it.

Its great growing up in a big family, all these wonderful events means a BIG family gathering. And since coming from a blended family we’ve had the annual tradition of celebrating with a Christmas eve dinner hosted by my amazingly awesome Aunt Karen (if you’ve ever been to one of her gatherings then you know what I’m talking about) followed by a wonderful Christmas lunch either by My Mom, Dad, or in-laws.

This year I thought I’d get a head start with the Christmas planning and do a few posts on ideas for Christmas. These will range from Christmas Eats, Christmas Treats and new traditions.

Since last Christmas our little family has grown with the addition of my perfect little niece Izzy – Rose Petal. Guys she’s beautiful and super bonus is she loves her Lala as much as I love her.

So without further a do… Lets kick off with some Christmas Treats.

Inexpensive Christmas ideas

Gifting Ideas:

  • A few years back, due to the ever growing family we decided that the adults in the family would draw names for presents and all the kiddies would get presents. Its been so much easier this way as the ever growing family just did not fit into everyone’s budget. So score.

The idea is you make up a gift for the person to the value of R300.00. This should include something that they have put on their want list (yes we do 3 ideas for the other person so that they have an idea), and then maybe something else small. Last year I was the lucky person to pick my Hubbys name, perfect for me as I knew exactly what he wanted for Christmas.

  • If you’re feeling creative then make something. Since I’ve taken up a side hobby (Crocheting, yes I can see my little sister rolling her eyes at me) this could be useful when coming to gift ideas. There’s patterns readily available online for the cutest goodies i.e. headbands, cushion covers, placemats, coasters, blankets etc.
  • Have a special photo framed.

One of the most special gifts I’ve received was from my Dad. He gave me a photo of us from my wedding day in a beautiful frame which I display proudly in our lounge.

When embarking on a new project I always check on Pinterest for some inspiration before I get started. I’ve done a quick round up of some of the things I’ve pinned.

Something for the chef in your life

Gift 1 - For the Baker or Cook

For the one with the Sweet Tooth

Gift 2 - Sweet Tooth

For the Grandparent who loves to cook / braai why not get the kids involved and do a custom hand painted Apron

Gift 3 - Hand print Apron

Monogrammed Totes

Gift 5 - Monogrammed Tote

Personalized Christmas Baubles

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Personalized Christmas baubles

DIY pillow (see tutorials below)

Gift 6 - DIY Pillow

Pillow - Puppy

Pillow - Cactus

Arts and Crafts:

  • Salt Dough Ornament

How to make salt dough:

1 cup salt

1 cup plain flour

Up to 1 cup of water (add gradually)

Method:

Combine the salt and flour then pour in the water gradually, stopping when it has become dough-like and not too sticky. There should be no residue left on your fingers when you touch it.

Knead it on a floured surface for a few minutes to make it soft, workable and stretchy, like you would with any dough.

This step is wonderful for strengthening those small hand muscles essential for writing and cutting!

Choose a range of cookie cutter shapes and simply cut straight from the dough. We used Christmas trees, stars and hearts. Poke a straw through the centre, near the top, of each shape so that ribbon can be threaded through later.

Lay them on some greaseproof or baking paper and on a baking tray. Cook them on a VERY low heat (around 100ºC) for up to 3 hours. If the shapes are over 1cm thick then they will probably need to be turned over during baking.

It is VERY important not to have the oven on too high. This will cause the salt dough to bubble up and fill with air, as essentially it is being cooked. What you are really aiming for is to dry them out thoroughly, over a slow period of time.

As soon as they are out of the oven they can be left to cool while your child chooses which colours and decorations to add! We used acrylic paints which adhere to the dough really successfully. Ordinary water-based children’s paint does work, but the colours are not as vibrant and the paint can flake off eventually.

The acrylics work as a sealant and keep the colours strong and beautiful!
Once the paint is dry, spread on some PVA (runny) glue and sprinkle over some glitter for a wonderfully Christmassy effect!

When they are dry, thread through with thin ribbon or twine and hang on the tree! You can write the date in the back to remember when they were made too, adding a special memory to the occasion.

And then finally, add a new tradition to your Christmas this year. Why not build a Gingerbread house together!

Sets are available from :

Gingerbread House Kit

Sweetly Does It

R219.00

Sweetly Does It Gingerbread house kit 3

Sweetly Does It Gingerbread house kit 1

Sweetly Does It Gingerbread house kit 2

DIY Kit – Gingerbread House

Harck & Heart

R350.00

Pre-made

Included

ALL YOU NEED IN ONE BOX:

  • easy step-by-step instructions
    • ready baked gingerbread house panels
    • gingerbread door and window
    • gingerbread trees and stepping-stones
    • cake board
    • icing sugar
    • piping bag
    • assorted sweets

Easy to assemble.
Great family fun for all ages

Harck & Heart 2Harck & Heart 1Harck & Heart 3

Let me know what you thought, and if you have any special Christmas traditions!

Till Later

LT

Supporting Momtrepreneurs : Meet Ella from Just Ella Bella

I first heard about Ella on one of the SA Mom Blog Facebook pages and immediately popped over to her blog to read a bit more about her story, I spent hours reading through her posts on Child loss and her son Logan. And then one day she reached out to me after reading one of my posts and asked me to feature in her WAHM Series.

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I am always taken a back when someone asks to feature me, I mean really, who am I? This will never change, even small things like people commenting and liking my posts makes me smile from ear to ear.

  • So tell us a bit about yourself, who you are, your background?

I’m a journalist who has ventured into newspaper design and layout and am trying to turn my hobby of making things into a kid’s accessories business called Oh!Boy kids

  • Do you have any kids? Be biased and tell us how awesome they are.

This is always a bit of a loaded question for me, I’m a mother of two, but one, Logan, is with God, the other, Aidan, is giving me grey hair. He is 2 and a half but is such an old soul that I find myself arguing with a toddler way more than is considered normal. He plays air guitar while belting out twinkle little star and has been known to try and bargain with me “three last ones please” and makes my heart so happy.

  • How, when and why did you start your small business?

Earlier this year, just after my 30th birthday, I resigned from my job as a reporter and decided to change my life. I love making things for my son and have had requests for some of his items so I thought why not branch out. I believe girls are much more spoilt for choice when it comes to accessories so wanted to do something “for the boys” but also found that girl moms are quite eager to order so I do make pink and pretty from time to time. I now work in layout three days a week and spend the other two creating things for my online store.

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  • Starting a business has its rewards. What has been one of the highlights of venturing out on your own.

Every time a mom sends me a pic of their child enjoying something I made, I could just burst with pride, it makes the late nights worth it.

  • When doing new designs, what do you look for. Comfortability, affordability, latest trends? Where does the inspiration stem from?

I have a toddler son and my sister has a 6 month old boy, along with all the other little people in my life, they are my inspiration. I make things I feel they could do with. So far its kid’s accessories like bibs and snoods along with busy bags (stylish toys you can take along to keep kiddo busy) and I’m now venturing into more practical items like storage bags and reusable lunch bags (in time for Christmas). I also have people making special requests and love a challenge.

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  • Can one only order via the catalogue you have available on Facebook or do you do custom orders too?

I have an online store Oh!Boy Kids but most of my things are custom orders, and I love that, I hate making too much of the same thing and prefer small batch items.

  • What are some of the challenges you have experienced with starting a small business (be it time, suppliers, huge orders etc.)?

I used to have a problem with saying no and have taken on way too many orders at one time. I have learnt my lesson though and realised my clients are not unreasonable so everything doesn’t have to be done right this second.

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  • Any upcoming markets or events we can come and support you at?

None yet but watch this space

  • Where can one find your awesome products?

Through www.ohboykids.co.za through www.facebook.com/ohboykids and through my blog www.justellabella.co.za

  • Care to share a piece of advice with other aspiring small business owners

Do what you love, the rest will fall into place

The time we ran away from the kids

Its been exactly a week since our 2 day getaway and I’m still living on cloud 9!

To celebrate our Anniversary (24 September) and my Birthday (25 September) we were gifted with a stay at Mofam River Lodge and it was amazing.

Carl and I haven’t really ever gone away alone except for our Honeymoon which was 4 years ago, and since having Josh join our little family there just hasn’t been time or energy to plan something like this.

When you have kids, its just so easy to let the “US” time move to the bottom of the priority list or fall away completely.

BUT let me tell you, after this breakaway, this is definitely something I want to do more of.

For so long, I’ve wanted to do a romantic weekend away with my Hubby (who doesn’t) but when I get around to checking out places and comparing prices the Mommy Guilt kicks in and I set it aside for another time (like when the boys are older, or when Josh is off the breast, or during school holidays or or and and and). So this was definitely a welcomed and appreciated surprise when we were told by my Mom that she had made all the arrangements and there was no turning back.

(Side note, Mom if I haven’t said it enough, Thank you so much for all you do and for the best gift ever)

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Situated on the shores of the Palmiet River, Mofam River Lodge is the perfect laidback, luxury getaway. You’ll find them deep in the Overberg’s Elgin Valley where the natural backdrop is unrelentingly beautiful.

Mofam River Lodge

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Our comfortable four-star bed and breakfast chalets provide sweeping mountain and river views. We make every effort to ensure your stay with us is as comfortable as possible. This includes super-comfortable mattresses, cotton linen, and good quality pillows so that you wake up fully rested.

Accomodation

11 Standard Chalets, 2 Family Chalets and 2 Self Catering Units

Family friendly chalet Our Chalet Self Catering Self Catering Chalet Standard Chalet

The drive there was so chilled, I think we were both so excited to be child-free for the next 48 hrs. I felt young and inlove again, I know its so silly.

Mofam is an outdoor adventure paradise for couples and families seeking a glitz-free yet creature-comfort holiday or mini break. Our friendly staff is on hand to serve up all manner of exhilarating on water activities. These include everything from water skiing, wakeboarding, bass fishing and canoeing to sunset river barge cruises.

We arrived early, a bit overexcited only to find out our room wasn’t ready as yet. This worked out perfectly because it meant we could have a nice rustig anniversary lunch at Peregrine Farm Stall.

Peregrine Farmstall inside

If you ever head out that side, this is definitely a MUST experience. The food, the vibe, the staff are all exceptionally friendly and great. We loved it so much we went back the next day for breakfast.

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Established in the sixties, Peregrine has been serving generations of travelers seeking honest homemade fare and warm country hospitality. Situated in the beautiful and fertile Elgin Valley, Peregrine offers an abundance of locally sourced artisanal goods and wholesome, responsibly farmed, fresh produce.

Café

The seasonal menu is a result of the close collaboration of local farmers, artisan chefs, and the demands of our discerning customers. The focus is on café style casual dining in a relaxed but stylish venue, and for those wanting a quick bite for the journey, there is a selection of wholesome and healthy ready-to-eat meals too. Peregrine pies enjoy legendary status, with perfect pastry and generous fillings.

Peregrine Cafe Outside Seating

Bakery

Skilled bakers rise at dawn to continue the age old tradition of carefully crafted breads, pies and pastries. We only use locally sourced unbleached stone ground flour and our own natural yeast starter in our artisanal breads. They are allowed to ferment naturally and slowly before being baked in our wood fired oven.

Peregrine Bakery

Peregrine fresh baked goods

farm stall

The shop showcases a variety of locally farmed and produced goods, from artisanal foods, fynbos honey to fresh cold-pressed juices and champagne style apple cider. The aroma of Peregrine’s variety of freshly baked goods fills the air and teases the senses. The wine shop stocks all the region’s top wines and ciders, as well as a growing selection of craft beer.

Once back at Mofam we settled in nicely and took an afternoon nap (yes we’re that old) in the loungers overlooking the river. It was pure bliss.

There’s just something special about this place, perhaps its being in the thick of nature or the fact that there’s little to no cellphone reception and NO TV’s in the rooms which allows you to completely relax. Whatever it was, it worked and I found the conversation and alone time so much more enjoyable.

Later the evening we made our way to the onsite restaurant for a well deserved anniversary dinner, however I was still stuffed from my AMAZING lunch that I only managed to have a toasted chicken sandwich (such a loser).

Flavours onsite restaurant lures guests with our hearty food, comfortable lodgings and incredible vistas. We’re open Tuesday to Sunday for lodge guests, locals and out of town visitors. Where possible, ingredients are sourced locally to make up an A La Carte and children’s menu to suit various palates. Flavours comfortably seats 60 people indoors with additional space on the terrace overlooking the river. Fully licensed, guests can enjoy a pre or after dinner drink at the restaurant wine bar. Be sure to sample from our superb Elgin Valley cool climate wine list.

The food was great, the view was amazing and although there was no water at the restaurant (as they were doing some maintenance) and we couldn’t have a nice coffee everything else was GREAT!

We absolutely cannot wait to go back!

Some of the Activities you can participate in while enjoying the breathtaking views at Mofam are

  • Waterskiing
  • Large Mouth Bass Fishing (Catch and release only)
  • Canoeing
  • River Cruising
  • Hiking
  • Quad biking
  • Taking a chilled walk through the Labyrinth

Parting words…. Go and have a romantic weekend away with your significant other, it will do your relationship the world of good!

Contact Mofam River Lodge

Tel: +27 21 846 8345
Fax: +27 86 295 0084
Email: info@mofam.co.za
GPS S34°13.709min
E18°159.292min
Skype mofam.reception
+27 21 813 6845

Currently

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Feeling and Loving

Can I be a Drama Queen for a moment and moan about my aching lower back, no, well I didn’t think so. Moms can never be sick, we have too many people depending on us. This is something all Moms know and all soon to be Moms and new Moms will learn.

Other than that, I’m feeling grateful. Grateful for my job, grateful for the positive environment I’m in (I loved my previous job but it was a struggle every day, to get up, to be happy and cheerful to give my all when I literally had no more of me left to give) and being able to just focus and get on with my day, the only thing missing is the people. I met and made some amazing connections and those are the faces I miss.

I’m grateful for having healthy kids, apart from the odd cold and little bit of snottyness, they’ve had a good winter. Thank you JC for keeping your hand over them! They’re thriving at school, they’re growing nicely, and their ability to learn just amazes me. They may be a handful and challenge me at every turn and give me wrinkles before my time, but I will wear them proudly. I simply adore being their Momma, in the good times and in the trying times.

I’m grateful for my Husband, I’m no doubt his biggest supporter (also probably his biggest critic) and over the last few months he’s helped me with so much. From taking over the morning routine so I can leave for work at 06:30am to washing the bottles while the boys have breakfast (yes I do notice my Love), it’s the small things that speak the loudest to me. Thank you for being my rock, my sense of balance, my guide and the Head of our Home. Whoop whoop its almost your birthday Old Boy. So happy I get to spend another birthday with you.

Doing

Last weekend we attempted another canvas painting session. It took me longer to put makeshift aprons on the boys, lay down the floor covering, pack out the paint than it took those 2 to tear through their task. I think it was 7min to be exact and the gorgeous Pinterest inspired vision I had ended up being a 1.5m long brown stain, lol. Carl think it looks cool, I feel like a monkey wiped its bum all over the canvas.

So this weekend I’ll be entertaining them with the Surpriso box I recently received. I love that someone else has gone through the effort of creating wonderful activities for my kids to do this weekend. All I need to do is guide them. Cannot wait to see the results, post will follow next week.

Other than that, on Sunday my Princess Bella is having her baby blessing so we’ll be famdamilying with the siblings and Papa. I feel like I have the coolest family in the world! Side note, my baby Sis was by us last night and I got schooled on how to be more cool. Lol (Apparently I’m Instagramming too much and my filters are terrible, this was then followed by a Selfie shoot with my sister and a detailed lecture of VSCO Cam).

Making

Need to get my bake on this weekend, I have not baked anything for my family in forever. So in preparation for the upcoming birthdays (we have 4 in August and 2 in September) I thought I’d make something this weekend. I’m thinking cupcakes should do and for me, date and cranberry muffins. Yum!

Trying

Completely not family related, but trying out the Benefit Porefessional and yes its good and nice and all those great things but it doesn’t do as an amazing job with my pores like I thought it would. I’m a tiny bit of a makeup addict, which was NEVER me. My makeup routine pre kids consisted of, washing my face, applying moisturiser and ending it all off with labello (for years, I kid you not). Post kids, I need to conceal very very dark under eye circles (that have probably been around for 6 years) followed by a whole bunch of other things.

Planning

2 posts for next week, one of which will be our review of the Surpriso box and another is a lovely Momtrepreneur I stumbled upon recently from Dandy Lion.

The months of August and September in our home mean 3 out of the 4 people are celebrating birthdays. I absolutely love hosting birthday parties. Last year Carl had his 30th bash at home with 30 of the most important people in his life. Drinks, food and family were plenty. This year I’m sure he’d prefer a more low key evening, but its on a Friday night which means we will definitely be doing SOMETHING.

Then we jump to September were our baby boy will be celebrating his 2nd birthday which makes my heart burst. I cannot believe its been 2 years since Josh’s birth. I can remember every minute of that day and still picture his perfect little face as the Doctor handed him to us. It was the day my heart grew in so many ways. You never really know how you will handle more than one child and how you will love that second or third one, until you’re there. I just could not stop smiling, he was worth all the tests, scans, blood work, monitoring, medication, miscarriage, tears, heartache, everything.

Last year he had a “Under Construction” and this year I’m thinking “Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs”.

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We still not officially sure if we’ll be hosting a party. Side note, I actually think my body grew in order to accommodate this huge heart I now have (justification of being a little chunky accepted).

The next week is our wedding anniversary (whoop whoop) followed by my birthday on the 25th and I don’t want to do anything except go away with my family and our besties. Which is the plan.

Watching

We recently started watching Secrets and Lies, which has us hooked for now. Then Carl is into Suits again and jointly we watch Big Bang Theory. Anything else worth watching?

Reading

I’ve read this book probably more times than most people. And I love it every time. Its literally something you can read cover to cover in one sitting.

I Dared to Call Him Father is the fascinating true story of Bilquis Sheikh, Sheikh was born in 1912 to conservative Muslim parents. As she grew up, she did not reject her Muslim faith, but acquired a disdain for anything spiritual or supernatural. If she could see it and explain it, she would believe it.

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Married to General Khalid Sheikh (for a time Pakistan’s Minister of the Interior), she was active in politics and social work. After her marriage fell apart at the age of 48, she retired to her family’s land in Wah, Pakistan, where she lived the life of a hermit, aloof and alone. It is here that the book begins the story of her search for God and how she found Him. Through a rash of super natural occurrences and strange dreams, she begins to read the Bible for herself. As she continues to read the Quran alongside of it, questions arise in her mind. How can the Quran and the Bible both be true, if they disagree with each other? Why does the Bible insist on pointing to Jesus? Why does the Bible bring her peace, which the Quran never did? Can she really call God Father? Finally, determined to get answers, she goes to the house of some American missionaries.

She shares the heartbreak of being ignored and shunned by her family, but also the goodness of God in providing her with so much more spiritual family—brothers and sisters in Christ—than the natural family she lost.

Ok, so that’s me for July!

Its Friday, so have a wonderful weekend!

The Father

Tweet Growing up I always looked to my Dad as my hero, the provider, the head of our Spiritual home, the protector, my supporter. I think that this is what most little girls do, they love them through the good and the bad. We put them on a pedestal and when we look at them

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Teen Suicide Prevention Week (14 – 21 February)

TweetDid you know that 14 – 21 February is annual Teen Suicide Prevention Week in South Africa? I for sure didn’t. Do these stats not scare the snot out of you? No longer are our kids young and carefree without a care in the world, kids and teens in 2015 are carrying adult problems on

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