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Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We all know about recycling and how good it is for the environment. Well I have just discovered Up-Cycling and environmentally it is a much better option. It is also fantastic on your pockets.

If you haven’t heard of it before up-cycling is a glamorous word for op-shopping and reusing stuff. Second hand all the way! When you up-cycle you basically save the environment from the ‘hit’ it takes every time something new is made AND you stop our landfills from getting overloaded unnecessarily. The idea behind it is instead of throwing something that is worn out or broken away find a way to repair or use it in a different way. Buys second hand wherever possible and make use of vintage items, heirlooms and hand me downs. In my opinion the world we live in is far too disposable and nothing is made to last any more. For up-cycling to really work I feel people should be buying quality, earth conscious and New Zealand made items right from the get go but in the mean time lets make use of what we have right now to be kind to our environment as cheaply as possible!

At the moment I am all about up-cycling clothes. Little babies grow so fast and get dirty so quickly that clothes can be a huge expense. I like my boy to wear nice clothes and to look ‘cool’ (whatever that means) but I don’t have the dollars to fund a 24 hr fashion parade for him. Instead I work with what I have, I am no sewer, not by a long shot but I am handy with a machine for basic things and having a machine at home means I can do a fair bit with some hand me down clothes and whatever spare time I have (precious little)

Here are some of my ideas:

If you have some worn or frayed pants you can cut them shorter into ¾ pants and put bright patches on the knees. Very cute and practical as they don’t drag on the ground or get caught around little crawling legs. I did this with a bunch of cruddy trackies I got given. They were too daggy to wear but once I cut the cuffs off of them and hemmed them with a rough edge they looked like funky little samurai pants. He loves wearing them because they don’t interfere with his play and the cuffs don’t drag.

If you have some old woollen blankets, the ones that you use on picnics or as a scout blanket they work really wonderfully as extra blankie layers on the bed. Simply cut it into four equal pieces and use blanket stitch to hem them. If you dye them before hand they look really lovely.

Instead of buying baby sheets and wraps, I went and got some cheap sheets and cut them in four before hemming them.  Even better you can use old sheets or second hand ones from a thrift store. Some really funky patterns turn up there!

If you have any tired looking little woollies tucked into draws or in storage and you want to jazz them up a good quick fix is to get some felt and sew some nice colourful patches onto them or make up a dye batch and give them a nice new colour. Make sure they are very clean before dyeing to prevent uneven colour. Another trick is to intentionally felt them using hot water and dishwashing liquid. Once they have been felted you can sew more felt patches on or even alter them by shortening the sleeves or anything really and using blanket stitch to seam the edge. If you aren’t sure about blanket stitch there is a great demo on you tube, easy as cake! Felted woollies are very sturdy and warm, just be aware that they do shrink so you can only use this technique on larger items and they must be woollen not man made.

Baby’s tights tend to wear out at the heel, once they have gone, cut the foot off and hem for a nice pair of leg warmers. Leg warmers are great because they can be left on for chilly changes and don’t get pulled off like socks do. They also protect little knees while they crawl

Old towels make fabulous bibs. Trace around your favourite bib and cut as many as you can get out of the towel. Find a cheap funky cotton fabric from your local fabric store and cut the same shape out. Either hem the cotton and then sew it onto the towel pieces or sew them together and then zig zag around the edge. A great source of interesting fabric is hunting out good quality vintage shirts and dresses from your local thrift store. To fasten the bib either add some velcro or a tie fastening. Old towels also make great face cloths and baby washers as they are usually soft and absorbent.

If you get given some ugly hand me downs think about altering them, a shirt with raggedy cuffs can become a neat short sleeved top, a t-shirt can become a singlet, a dress can become a skirt or a jersey can become a vest, socks can become leg warmers and a raincoat can become a painting pinny. If you have some fabric odds and ends you can add knee patches or cuffs to extend the life of nice but well worn items. Some attractive bias binding or trim can work wonders on dull or ordinary clothes and kids love having extra pockets to store things in.

If you have been given some boring wooden blocks or toys boil them with a natural vegetable dye (like onion skins) or paint them. You may need to sand and polish them afterwards but it will give them a new lease on life.

If you have some worn out towels you can sew them together to make a larger towel and then add a triangle to one corner to make a hooded towel. You can ‘cute’ it up by adding a couple of towel ears. Avoid dyeing towels to up-cycle them as they are so well used the dye fades quickly and can leave marks on wet little bodies.

These are just a few ideas, there is a whole world of ways to re-use items out there so get creative! Don’t be afraid to troll through second hand stores or school fairs for nice things or ugly things that are made of good quality fabric. I try to avoid dyeing things as it is a pain in the butt and can be unpredictable but it does give things a nice new look. Always follow the instructions and make sure your clothes are squeaky clean. Stains will always show so remove the stains or patch over them. You can make a lovely natural saffron dye out of onion skins and tea makes a nice oatmeal colour. Natural dyes have the benefit of being cheap and safe but they can be unreliable. Then again that can be the charm!

Good luck turning trash into treasure!

For some natural dye recipes this link has some simple advice and information.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I thought I would dedicate a little time to my current obsession – nappies. When I first found out we were knocked up I was convinced we were going disposable all the way. What modern mum has time faff about with rinsing washing and hanging cloth nappies was my reasoning. No way was I going to enslave myself to the washing machine like a 1950’s house drone. Well - my husband (bless him) being Scottish had a different opinion, he reasoned that disposable nappies were a big fat waste of money and that we should go with cloth. Words were had and after a bit of sulking on my part and an agreement that he would be the primary nappy washer we decided to go cloth. Sadly the environment was the last thing on my mind but I can still be smug and self satisfied that I am saving on landfill. Part of my theory relied heavily on the propaganda put out by disposable nappy manufacturers that washing cloth nappies has just as much of an environmental footprint as landfill. After a bit of research I find this is not the case at all and have had to jump down off my high horse. 

The truth is modern cloth nappies are pretty awesome. For all of those mums who dread soaking scraping and having to touch poo I can happily say with the exception of the odd mishap I do not have to touch the poo. Modern washing machines handle a lot more than they used to which removes the need for scraping and soaking, I literally just biff the nappies in and they come out clean. I have a bag of disposables I use for when I am caught short or for some outings but I barely use them and I can honestly say I have been converted, I prefer cloth over disposables on all fronts. With disposables they are so drying that they suck the moisture right out of the poo turning it into a sticky mass which is very hard to wipe off, whereas with cloth the fibres of the cloth literally grip onto the poo and pull it away from his skin. I have had no nappy disasters with cloth nappies, no poo shooting up the back or out the legs and at night he has never leaked through once. If you have enough nappies as well, washing just isn’t that big a chore, we do a load every day or every second day depending on how productive he has been and I literally toss the contents of the nappy bucket in and after a cold wash hang them out or bang them in the dryer. Nappies also dry really well on heated towel rails or over doors. Bearing in mind we want to keep electricity bills low, the line is still the best place with the added bonus of sunlight acting as a natural bleach and disinfectant. I can also say quite truthfully he has not had a single bout of nappy rash since the day he was born.

There are 3 major kinds of modern cloth nappies and the type you select will depend on what you want out of a nappy.

If you want to be able to put your nappies in the dryer and are looking for a really nice absorbent option then fitted nappies may be the one for you.

Fitted Nappies

Fitted nappies have a cloth nappy that has been made to fit around the bum and do up with poppers or Velcro. The cover is separate so you only need to change the cover every so often but the inners are replaced with every change. Fitted nappies dry quickly as they often open right out and are simple to wash, they have the added benefit of being able to go in the dryer which can be a huge time saver. The covers simply need a quick wash or rinse and dry within minutes as they are made of a waterproof material. The system I use is bamboozle by tots bots and I have the say they are awesome. Bamboo is more absorbent and antibacterial, it is also soft on the skin and easy to clean. Bamboo takes slightly longer to dry because it’s more absorbent but that’s the only flaw that I can find. If you get the popper nappies they last from birth to potty which is great for the budget conscious.

If you are looking for a cheaper option with a lot of flexibility then prefolds may be the one for you.

Prefolds & Pocket Nappies

This is closer to the old school nappy system. The prefolds are similar to fitted nappies but they use a square of cloth folded into three inside a cover. This makes them a great price as the flat cloths are much cheaper and they are by far the quickest to dry. I don’t find they are as absorbent or leak proof as fitted nappies but I have used these quite a lot and they work well with newborns as they are not too bulky. Pocket nappies are a variation of prefolds in that the insert fits in a pocket that is part of the cover, personally I don’t like these as you have to wash the covers with every change meaning you need a lot more nappy bits and pieces but the benefit is that there is a ‘stay dry’ layer between baby’s bum and the absorbent core.

If you’re looking for an option that is as close to the disposable nappy as you can get then an all in one is going to suit you.

All in Ones

These nappies are the outer cover, absorbent core and stay dry layer all in one nappy – hence the name ‘all in one’ They can be very trim fitting and convenient to put on wriggling babies as there is only one step. I have a few all in ones that I use so he can fit outfits he may have grown out of in bulkier nappies or for outings when I want to travel light. All in ones usually cannot be put in the dryer and take a long time to dry comparatively. The flexitot from Tot’s bots is a very popular model because it uses natural fibres close to baby’s bum and has a very trim fit. I found they take a long time to dry and as you can’t use the dryer you may need a lot more than the recommended 15-20 nappies. I would say double that.

Cloth nappies are worth experimenting with because every baby is different and for different times of day or night a selection of nappies might suit. I myself use a variety of fitted, prefolds and all in ones depending on the circumstance but I far and away love the fitted ones most. When trialling cloth nappies remember that their absorbency does not reach maximum until about 10 or 12 washes, so don’t judge them straight away. Also be aware of what clothes you have your precious wee mite in as cloth nappies require a bit more ease in the crotch and bum – as I have a very tall baby I found I needed to be one size ahead of his age bracket.

Cloth nappies with a bit of care will last for 3 or 4 children and with each child the savings get bigger and bigger as there is no outlay of cash. Take care of them and they will take care of baby’s bum. Don’t soak them in harsh chemicals or put covers in the dryer, air dry whenever possible. Avoid buildup by not using greasy creams or talc unless needed and if you are using these things consider getting rewashable liners which are available usually from the same place you would buy nappies, either online or at your local baby store.

Cloth nappies are not cheap initially with some systems costing as much as $600 for a starter set. However in the long run they are much cheaper than disposables and you have a lot less rubbish. Talk to your local council and see if any nappy systems are subsidised.

Another option is to make your own nappies, there are a few NZ websites that offer supplies and patterns to do this. I have been meaning to get around to it myself but have trouble finding time! It might be a great project for you if you’re pregnant and on the final countdown or if you have a handy mother or mother in law you could delegate. A friend of mine used the patterns and the nappy worked really well. For about quarter the cost this is a great option for the budget conscious.

The websites are

I can't rave on about cloth nappies enough to be honest - even if you are a firm believer in disposable, give them a try. get one or two and see how they go!


I don’t know about you but I get a little steamed about all of those cleaning product adverts with pristine mothers in ¾ pants and a manic grin gliding about their house spraying chemicals left right and centre. One – why is it always women in these commercials? I know plenty of men who clean. Two – they talk about germs as if they are the end to humankind, germs aren't that bad! Three – what mother looks like that all perfectly groomed and smiling whilst cleaning the house and wrangling 3 kids? Not me, I usually march about the house in my bathrobe and slippers evicting mess to the far corners where I can’t see it, hoping like nothing else that the wee man will sleep a few extra minutes so I can pee/eat breakfast/have shower/get dressed all at once.

I personally think we are cleaning too much, don’t get me wrong I love a nice clean house but the ongoing warfare against germs seems unnecessary and expensive. Germs by and large are a natural and wholesome part of life. No one is germ free except for perhaps the boy in the bubble and he is one sick wee boy. Children need germs to develop a healthy immune system and I resent large companies trying to make me feel guilty or scared about germs in my household and I think it’s even more ridiculous that we are using highly toxic chemical laden cleansers to make our houses ‘clean’ If I had to pick between a few germs and a few chemicals I would go for germs all the time. My mum informs me we were grubby little children and I seem none the worse for wear!

I used to be a cleaning product junkie, if it had bright colours on the label I had it, but now I have reduced my household cleaning regime to these few products. Not only are these safer for babies but they are more environmentally friendly and they are cheaper too.

Teatree oil – antibacterial and odour remover
Lavender Oil – natural scent
Baking Soda – odour remover, stain remover and good for scouring
Vinegar – Great for mould, smells and grime

I use these items on their own or combined for all major cleaning jobs around the house!

Antibacterial Surface Spray

1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
5 drops tea tree oil

This is my all purpose spray mix great for bench tops, windows, surfaces and I spray it on dishes that may be a little stubborn in the dishwasher

I put a couple of drops of Lavender oil on the vacuum bag when I lux the house, it really makes the carpet smell fresh and clean. To save pennies, if your vacuum cleaner takes a fabric bag that can’t be reused you can cut one end to empty it and then run a few rows of stitching along to reuse!


The best smell remover is a candle or scent burner. I can’t think of anything more silly than spraying chemicals into the air we breathe so it smells nicer. I bought a cheapie cheap scent burner and just light it whenever the house gets a bit close. I often have it lit when it’s nappy time! Don't forget also nothing beats opening all the windows and curtains to let the sunlight and fresh air get at those stinky greeblies.

Carpet stains and other mucky marks

Baking soda with vinegar scrubbed in and rinsed out before drying. Although for most carpet whoopsies the best thing is to soak it in water and sponge dry – repeat until clean. Use warm water if it is a greasy one. A carpet specialist gave me that one and after 5 years of vomity dog and red wine I can attest to it’s efficacy.

Bathroom grub

If the spray doesn’t work then make baking soda and vinegar into a paste and use like jif.

Mould and Mildew

Pure vinegar with a few drops of tea tree to reduce the fish and chips smell.


Zap a mug with hot water and vinegar until the microwave is all steamed. Should wipe clean beautifully.

Floor Wax

I don’t often wax the floor but if you were into that then my dad in law swears by this.

1 part natural turps
1 part beeswax

Mix in a glass jar and over a week the beeswax should dissolve. Rub into wooden surfaces and floors to get to a nice shine – requires a little elbow grease!

The Amish make an all-purpose cleaning solution by combining 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar and a gallon of water Shake well and pour the solution into a spray bottle.

Baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean carpet spots. Sprinkle the baking soda on the spot, then pour on some vinegar. It'll bubble like crazy. Let it dry some and then vacuum. And make sure you test the color fastness of your carpet first - before cleaning the whole thing.

You can clean out the innards of your dishwater by running it empty with a bowl of vinegar in it. Same is true for your coffee pot..

Coffee and tea stains can be cleaned by rubbing baking soda into them.

Borax is an effective alternative to harsh chlorine bleach, don't ask me where you can get borax but I have been told it's true.

We love killing bacteria, so manufacturers are turning to triclosan to help us do it. But this disinfectant can prompt the growth of resistant bacteria; what's more, it can turn carcinogenic. Use vinegar instead (and remember that not all bacteria is harmful!).

We've been brainwashed into thinking that germs are evil and our homes must be free of all bacteria, but the truth is that for dustiness, spills and specks, a good strong wipe with a damp towel is not only plenty effective, but safer for you and better for the planet

If you absolutely must have your cleaning products and potions you can try this simple trick to reduce costs and chemicals. Use half – I am not kidding. Use half of what you normally would or is recommended by the manufacturer. 9 times out of 10 everything will be cleaned just as well. I do this for the dishwasher as I can’t quite quit the powder and my dishes still get just as clean.

I imagine there are a million and one other home recipes for cleaning products, I like to keep it as simple as possible. If I must buy a product I try and get the one with the least chemicals, there is no replacement for elbow grease!

Friday, March 5, 2010


There are a lot of products out there made specifically for baby bath time, many of which can be pricey chemical laden and an irritation to baby’s skin. One brand in particular claims to increase the length of sleep for babies if you follow the 3 step procedure which seems like a shameless play on sleep deprived mothers emotions to me. If you bought everything major companies claim you need ,not only would you have spent a small fortune but the list of chemicals going onto your precious little one’s skin is huge. I have a fair few issues modern baby bath products.

1. There are truckloads of chemicals
2. They are primarily petroleum by-product derived
3. The main scent is a fragrance rather than an actual plant product or essential oil, fragrances are phthalates which are known hormone interrupters responsible for low sperm motility, infertility and a whole host of other nasty things
4. They tend to be expensive and unnecessary
5. An overload of chemicals even less harmful ones can exacerbate eczema

The thing to remember is that the trick to getting a baby to sleep, is less about the products and more about the process. My wee man slept through the night from 3 months on and I attribute a lot of that to following a simple but loving and natural pattern before bed time.

To have a happy pink and clean baby is actually fairly simple, There is nothing like a warm relaxing bath to put baby in the mood for sleep, a few drops of lavender essential oil can help soothe them but a warm bath is the primary thing. You do not need anything else to scent or put in the water, babies don’t actually need to be vigorously soaped or have bubbles in their bath. Water is plenty good enough to clean and entertain, for grubby crevices and stubborn grime I use the barest little bit of Eco Baby soap and then rinse off. Soap is actually not bad for you, if it is a chemical and fragrance free soap there is nothing wrong with it. It is cheap, it is simple and it lasts a year and a day. Bring back soap I say.

Once you have wrapped baby up in a warm fluffy towel and hugged them dry they will hopefully receptive to a baby massage which is actually the key to longer sleep. I pick my moments, sometimes he is too tired and sometimes he is too crabby. If you haven’t tried baby massage I highly recommend it. It would be worthwhile taking a short course with a group of friends who have similar aged babies.

The principle is pretty simple, lots of gentle stroking and rubbing with thumbs and hands. Starting with the legs and feet is a good entry point to get baby used to it. A simple carrier oil is the best massage lotion to use, almond oil is often recommended but if you have a concern about nut allergies olive oil is a fantastic and budget conscious choice. All you need to do is rub a little on your hands and smooth it over the area being massaged.

My little monster loves having his feet rubbed and when he sees me rubbing the oil on my hands he goes all quiet and calm. It’s a really neat way of communicating with baby by getting ‘permission’ to rub them. If they turn their head away or get upset maybe massge is best kept simple and quick or not at all.You might feel a little silly but singing a soft lullaby or song really soothes and engages them. Massage is a great way to develop attachment, calm and soothe your child and is great for naturally moisturising their soft soft skin.
If you would rather use less hot water or you don't have a people sized bath then there is nothing wrong with a shower, if you start early they get used to it and even come to love it, my husband often showers with the wee man in the weekends or if I am in a hurry in the morning I share my shower. I just make a little nest of towels on the floor so I can wrap him up half way through and finish my ablutions.

Bath time is a lovely time for bonding, I like to get in at the same time and that way we get a lot of really nice skin to skin contact and I feel a lot safer not handling a slippery eel like critter while bending over the bath doing lord knows what to my back. He simply sits on top of me and enjoys the water in a safe and comforting environment. I used to worry about being poo'd on but so far so good (fingers crossed) When he was smaller he used to feed in the bath as well which he loved but now of course toys are far more interesting and splashing has become the new funnest thing in the world. I am sure he will grow out of having mum in the bath at some stage but hopefully not too soon!

Boobs cont..

In the early days of breastfeeding I wandered around the house with no top on and the flaps of my maternity bra open like some weird mother goddess figure or bondage queen. It seemed like no longer had I put my boobs away after one feed that a grabby little mouth wanted to get at them again. They were sore, really sore and worn out poor tired boobs. The most important things bar nothing to prevent and heal sore nipples is correcting and perfecting the latch however to help you continue breastfeeding when the damage is done Here are a few things that can help pep them up again:

Lotions Potions and Recipes for Sore Boobs

Shower Oil

In the early days when I showered I had to hold my hands over the stinging nipples as the hot water really hurt them. To protect them I rubbed oil on them before getting into the shower and this really helped protect them as well as keep them supple.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 drops of Lavender oil

Mix and place in a light tight container and store in a cool place. Great for boobs and preggy bellies.

Calendula Infused Oil

Calendula or Pot Marigold is a really common flower. Often planted alongside other plants to repel pests it has wonderful healing properties. If you don’t have any growing in your yard you can get seeds or plants from most garden shops and they are very easy to grow, mine grows like a weed. There are quite a few commercial calendula nappy or nipple creams, but they can be costly. If you infuse the calendula flower in oil you can use that oil on it’s own as a salve or lotion or include it is some other recipes like my bum balm.

3 cups of flowers
1 litre of extra virgin oil (any other carrier oil would be fine)

Pick as many flowers as you like don’t worry about picking too many, picking them simply encourages more growth. Make sure they are nice dry specimens without rain or dew on them. Spread them on news print or an old dry towel in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Airing cupboards or spare bedrooms are great. Once the flowers have wilted and are almost dry place them in a clean glass jar and cover with oil. Make sure there are no air bubbles or moisture trapped. After a week the oil should have infused and you can discard the flowers or turn them into a poultice. The resulting oil should be orange and can be used on skin, abrasions, bruises, rashes and blemishes.

Calendula Poultice

I used this poultice directly on my nipples to aid in healing. It really helped soothe and close the cracks I had. Either use the flowers left over from Calendula infused oil or get some fresh flowers and remove the petals. Cover the fresh petals with oil and macerate. Keep refrigerated for up to a week and when you want to use warm the flowers and apply to your breast around the nipple. Be sure to rinse of thoroughly before feeding the boob monster.

Warm saline soak

1 cup boiling water
1 tsp salt

Mix together and place in a wide bowl, dangle your boob in as hot as you can stand it. It may sting a little if you have cracks but it can also be quite soothing. Pat dry.

Cabbage Leaves

Keep a few large cabbage leaves cool in the fridge, if you have engorged breasts slip them into your bra. Don't over do though as it can reduce your milk supply. I would not recommend this course of action if you have supply issues.


My midwife swears by this and she is right, squeeze a little breastmilk from the affected nipple and rub it on the cracked bit and let it dry.


Can't recommend it enough, it's free, healthy and quite calming as well. Gotta get that vitamin D

Hottie or Wheat Bag

If you have blocked ducts, engorged breasts or sore nipples a hottie or wheat bag can really soothe those enraged nungas.

Some other things that help...

Let bubs suckle the nipple which is less sore as the first suckle is the most active. Keep switching poitions with each feeding, thus avoiding pressure from the baby's mouth on the same part of the breast. Do not for gods sake stop feeding, boobs heal by frequent nursing with the passage of time. Even if it is cracked bleeding or infected your baby will not be harmed by suckling from you.

Exposure of nipples and breasts to air prevents growth of thrush. Avoid wearing bra for long hours of the day instead wear nursing bras with flaps. Then you too can look like a strange mother goddess or bondage queen....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sian's Oaty Lactation Cookies

When I started breastfeeding I found I got amazing sugar cravings, my particular vice was  chocolate which I devoured by the block. Looking back I realised the cravings hit me while I was feeding my wee man. These cookies are a much healthier version of the energy kick that some mums need when you're being eaten alive by a benevolent parasite. The ingredients in them are all supposed to be galactagogues, (foods or supplements which support milk supply) there are two schools of thought with regards to galactagogues, one being they are efficacious and benificial in most instances and the other being that without correct latch they are useless. My personal take is that some mothers may benefit hugely from supplements if their diet or food intake is inadquate or their energy levels are low, while other mothers may notice little effect at all. If you have a problem with supply you are best placed to examine your latching techniques before diving into supplements. However these tasty treats are good for everyone to enjoy and at the very least provide a nutrient rich treat to nibble on while you are having a nice long nursing session.


1 cup butter or 3/4 cup rice bran oil
1 cup vanilla sugar (add tsp of vanilla if not avaialble) 
1 cup  soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons flaxseed/linseed meal
2 large eggs
2 cups maida flour/stoneground wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole oats, organic if you can get them
1 cup of fair trade chocolate chips
4 tablespoons of brewers yeast
2 tablspoons fennel seeds
1 tsp cinnamon


1 cup chopped Central Otago dried apricots
1 cup dried Cranberries


Preheat oven to 180 Celsius

Combine linseed meal and water in a small cup (I usually grind my own linseed as ground linseed goes rancid very fast) and set to one side

Cream butter or oil and sugar, slowly add the eggs once at a time and then stir in the linseed mixture, add vanilla at this time if putting in separately

 Sift together dry ingredients except for the oats, chocolate chips and fennel seeds and gently add to the creamed mixture. Then stir in the remaining oats, fennel seeds and chocolate chips.

Scoop or drop onto baking sheet, preferably  double lined with baking paper to prevent the bottoms burning and sticking. the dough may be crumbly so a scoop helps.

Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies.

This makes an enormous batch of cookies, I had to bake mine in three separate lots. You can add the cranberries or apricots instead of or in addition to the chocolate chips. Some babies react to chocolate via the breastmilk so bear this in mind. Apricots are a super food in terms of nutrients and cranberries are great for your urinary health (or at least saying this makes you feel better about eating the cookies)

If you are gluten intolerant you can replace the flour with 50% almond meal and 50% gluten free substitute such as rice flour. I add some almond meal anyway to increase the protein and calcium levels. I also find the best chocolate is Trade Aid fair trade chocolate block smashed up with a rolling pin!

I find it's really nice to have these cookies on hand for low energy points during the day or while you are caught out breastfeeding and you forgot to eat lunch or somethign daft like that. They also make a great gift for new mothers. The fennel seeds make them taste a little grassy, it's not unpleasant but it is a little different. Fennel seed is also lovely for settling a windy tummy and this benefit is passed on via breastmilk to baby.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Babies bums are very very cute, I just love those dimples and chubby litle thigh rolls. We like to keep them cute and pink and soft and happy, however being jammed in nappies all day means they are sometimes pretty grubby and they can also get a bit rashy. I have been really lucky with my wee monster, so far no nappy rash, I consider myself fortunate as nappy rash can be a real hassle – not to mention painful and sore on sad baby bums.

 Nappy rash can be caused by a number of things including diet, natural sensitivity, allergies and wet/soiled nappies so there is no surefire cure as far as I know. As a preventative, experts advise plenty of nappy free time and frequent changes amongst other things. People who use elimination communication often state that an absence of nappy rash is one of the best things about it.

 I feel that I have been able to avoid nappy rash by using a cloth nappy made of bamboo which is naturally antibacterial and by avoiding commercial wipes. I had been using an unscented version of commercial wipes for the first month of my first son's life but I just kept feeling there had to be a better ways even the unscented ones seem to have a load of unnecessary chemicals and they really aren’t that cheap either. I had been using chux cloths on the the advice of another mum but found they seemed to disintegrate in the wash pretty quickly and I am definitely NOT into hand washing if I can possibly avoid it – who has time? So I gave washing disposable wipes a go and hallelujah! they wash beautifully – actually end up a bit softer than brand new. I just buy a store brand wipe, nothing special and put them in with a load of nappies, I find I can wash them 5-6 times before they fall apart which gives me great value for my buck. I make my own nappy wipe solution for them as well.

Home Made Wipes

1 litre of boiling water

1 chamomile teabag
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (white vinegar will do)2 drops of Lavender Oil or teatree oil (optional)
Handful of Marigold/Calendula Flowers (optional)
A few drops of hypercal tincture (this is optional but excellent for healing)

I just mix it all together, pour it over the folded wipes into a plastic container (icecream is fine but I use a commercial wipes containers made by a well known brand) and once cooled drain off any excess and use as standard. The vinegar stops the whole lot from going smelly and also has an antifungal effect whilst the chamomile and marigold are very soothing and healing on little bums. The lavender oil is good for the skin and adds a nice smell  while teatree oil is antifungal but I am wary of using large amounts as there is some limited evidence to suggest that certain elements in the oil can interfere with baby hormones.

Home made Wipes with Oil

1 litre of boiling water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup calendula oil or olive oil

Mix together as above, the oil is helpful to babies who have dry skin or when you have a dried on sticky mess to clean off. If you use cloth wipers like muslins or flannels then you can keep the wipes mix in a squeezy bottle and use as needed.


On the subject of things we put on baby bums I had been a little put off by all of the creams and unguents out there for nappy rash, even a simple barrier cream seems to have a lot of chemicals and Vaseline which is one of the simplest and most common products out there is a by-product of the petroleum industry All of these things contain pthalates which are serious hormone interrupters and are especially risky to small babies and their development. I had been looking into a nice looking natural balm made of beeswax and oil but the cost to purchase it put me off at $18 a tub it just wasn’t going to work out dollar wise. So I investigated making my own balm out of beeswax and olive oil.


I make the balm by melting the wax in a thick bottomed pot at a very low heat and stirring in the oil. Once everything is combined I let cool a little before pouring into glass jars or ceramic containers. Old sugar bowls or cups work well. I try to avoid plastic containers as they can leach oestrogens and BPAS when warmed up. The resulting balm is fabulous on little bums and I also use when I massage my wee man as it’s better than a drippy oil which gets everywhere. If you are using cloth nappies you might find it causes a bit of a build up on the nappy, which can be avoided by using liners (rewashable ones are best) or doing an occasional warm wash. It’s best to use is sparingly anyway to avoid build up. I personally use olive oil as it is not derived from nuts (for possible nut allergies) and is fabulous on skin, it’s also one of the cheapest options to use. This balm is also great for dry legs, cracked feet, gardening hands and even sore boobs - although wash off before the hungry mouth goes on and be careful of cross contamination!

Basic Balm Recipe:
1 part beeswax
8 parts olive oil (any other carrier oil will do)

Melt the beexwax and oil together before stirring gently and pouring into pots. You don't want to let the mixture get too hot as it will denature the oil and possibly crack your jar.

Soothing Balm Recipe:
As for the basic recipe but add a few drops of Lavender oil  just before pouring into pots, I use Pacific Blue genus of lavender as it is very low in camphor and suitable even for very small babies.

Antifungal Balm Recipe:

As for the basic recipe but add a further 2 parts of virgin coconut oil and a few drops of manuka or teatree oil just before pouring out.

I order my beeswax online from Happy Valley, they have a great online shop and you can get biogro organic options. The minimum order is 1kg which comes in 200gm blocks.

One of the other things you end up using a lot of is talcum or baby powder, and it seems like yet another opportunity to splash unnecessary chemicals onto our babies nethers, not to mention talcum powder can get into baby’s lungs and cause serious breathing issues. A much simpler and cheaper option is standard ordinary cornflour. I just put it in a shaker and use liberally on wee monster's bum. It seems to keep him a lot drier and more comfortable – it’s a great home remedy for nappy rash, although don’t use it if you think there is a thrush infection as the yeasts feed on the cornstarch. A rash that has a thrush infection tends to sit in the creases and should be treated entirely differently to a standard rash.

I never used to be serious about the products on my skin, I used to believe that if they sold it especially for babies that it must be fine. But that is simply not the case, they do not do long term testing nor do they do cumulative testing. You never know what the cocktail of chemicals we regularly put on our skin will do, so why trust the people who depend on you buying their stuff for the information?


No one really prepared me for how tough breastfeeding would be to start with! I had this interesting perception that we would both just glide smoothly into a blissful portrait of mother/son feeding and bonding. I know for some mothers this might actually happen and good on you! But for myself and most of the brave women in my antenatal group breastfeeding was a huge challenge. There seems to be so much focus on preparing for a labour which realistically isn't going to last more than a few days, however the preparation I got for breastfeeding was minimal.

So for all the new mums out there who managed to stick at it - kudos! I am a definite believer in breast milk is the best milk and now that everything is going smoothly I love feed times, but I truly do think that the hard-line attitude that pushes breastfeeding without the actual support and promotes the theory that it shouldn't hurt if you are getting it right, alienates most new mums straight away by putting a huge amount of pressure and in some cases unrealistic expectations on them.  

Here are some of the things I learned while taking my breastfeeding journey:

1. It can hurt, expecting it to go perfectly immediately will set you up for failure

2. The right latch is essential, but every baby's mouth is different as every boob is different and practice makes perfect. Getting ther perfect latch is the single one thing you can do to prevent issues with supply or nipple damage.

3. Most areas have a lactation consultant either at the hospital or as part of plunket. Their services are usually subsidised by the government and are therefore free. USE THEM

4. Talk to other women who are feeding, get their stories. Sharing a problem truly makes it easier to cope. is a great website with a whole lot of useful info on successful breastfeeding.

5. Lean on your partner or support person, let them bring you snacks and drinks or hold flailing baby arms while you try and latch a small hungry mouth

6. Lanolin cream is great to use but it is not an instant cure, put it on the nipples before they start to get sore, I found the pain didn't kick in for a few days.

7. Calendula is a godsend for nipple cracks, It's natural and speeds healing. If you have an all natural lotion you don't necessarily have to rinse it off before baby's mouth goes on the nipple.

8. Get a great set of breast pads, for the first month the only ones that didn't stick to my poor sore nipples were disposables but now I have a great set of silk lined merino ones that have a hemp core. You can make these (more details in later blogs) Breast pads help keep nipples dry and protected and let them heal in between feeds.

9. If you need to use a nipple shield or express then bottle feed to get through a week of extremely sore nipples then you need to. Don't let anyone pass judgement on the decisions you make to cope. If it works it works.

10. Have everything you may need to cope with breastfeeding BEFORE you have the baby, there is nothing more delightful than heading out on a cold wintery morning with a screaming baby and boobs that feel like they have been hit by a bus to scout out lanolin cream or nipple shields.

11. You will get advice and information from a lot of different sources, take only what you need and always get another opinion if what you have been told doesn't feel right.

12. For engorged sore breasts cabbage leaves really do work!

13. Ignore the naysayers, there will be a whole host of people who encourage you to give up or make back handed comments about your decision to breastfeed, your baby's weight or even how they feel about breastfeeding in general. They may mean well but they are not taking your journey and therefore have no business undermining your effort.

14. Contact the La Leche League before you have your baby, before I had my son I was given the impression that mums from the LLL were militant and over opinionated. I couldn't have been more wrong. They are friendly, helpful and offer a whole range of supports for new mums including a lending library, meetings and mums who would happily come and help you get your latch right or offer advice over the phone.

15. Get really good maternity bras, try them on before buying and wait until your supply has settled before investing in a whole bunch. One or two will get you through those first few weeks. is a great site for larger breast sizes and comfortable supportive maternity bras.

16. And finally, have faith in your boobs, they were after all built for this and even if it's tough, perseverance usually wins the day.

The single most important aspect to a mothers success in breastfeeding is knowing that physically she is capable and that if things do go wrong with the correct support she can overcome the issue.

One thing a lactation consultant told me that really rang true and helped me understand how babies work is that sleeping and feeding are very much one and the same. If one is not going well then you can't expect the other to go well either. The thing to bear in mind is that there is light at the end of the tunnel and the most important thing is firstly a happy healthy baby and  secondly a happy healthy mum.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The playdough you buy from toy stores was initally designed as a cleaning product for wallpaper. Aside from water and wheat flour it contains a retrogradation inhibitor borax, salt, lubricant silicone, surfactant, preservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, and color. All of these additives are not ideal things to be on little hands - let alone mouths! Here is a recipe for a lovely gluten free Playdough that is smooth and elastic, I find that using cornflour gives  a much nicer texture to homemade playdough and it means you can let babies who are gluten intolerant play with it!


3 cups cornstarch (I find that asian food specialty stores tend to have better value sized packs)
1/2 cup salt
2 cups water (approx)
1/2 cup oil
Food safe colouring

Optional ingredients:

Dry beach sand
Essential oils - lemon, lavender and orange

Mix all of the ingredients together in a heavy bottomed saucepan excluding the colour and optional ingredients. Slowly heat the mix until it thickens and pulls off of the side of the pot.  You may need to add more flour or water depending on your brand of flour/humidity etc but it will be quite sticky still until it cools down. Once it has heated right through tip it out onto a flat surface and knead. If the dough is too stiff once it is cooled add vegetable oil rather than water to loosen it up a bit. I like to add the colouring at this stage as you can knead a few drops into small amounts of dough and get more variety of colours. I also like to include sand in some batches for texture or glitter for sparkle. A nice way of preventing mould and giving the dough a lovely smell is to add a tiny drop of essential oil to the mix. I would only ever do this if the dough is for older children and use the less toxic oils recommended above.

The dough is best kept sealed and refrigerated in between uses and will last a couple of weeks if treated well. A thin coat of vegetable oil helps to keep it from drying out and keeps it pliable. Always use a mat under your children as they play with it. Dried playdough is IMPOSSIBLE to remove from carpets.