Is your timing right?


An important aspect of successful meal planning is timing. When you draw up your meal plan one of the main components you need to keep in mind is your daily routine and how much time you have to make that particular meal.

A couple of weeks ago I made a new recipe for the first time, Beef Wellington. I planned it for a Wednesday night. This was not a well thought out idea. The reason I chose Wednesday is that I work half day, so I knew I would have the time to make this meal and there would be no rush. The only clever timing choice about the Wednesday was that it did take me 3 hours to make the Wellingtons.

Beef Wellington
Renamed Beef Waterloo. 10 Delicious servings

My timing was a little off. I needed liver pate, being strictly kosher, I can only get this from one or two sources and they only make this for Friday as a Sabbath treat! I was two days too early.

Timing for your menu makes your life easier.  If you have a lot of extra murals, you don’t want to plan a meal that is going to take an hour if you will only be home at 7pm.

For moms with children doing extra murals (especially in winter) my suggestion is to use a slow cooker.  I love the convenience of chucking everything into one pot in the morning, turning it on low and leaving the house. By 5pm the house smells wonderful and dinner is ready. The other convenience is everyone can help themselves (if they are old enough) according to their times.

Another consideration for timing is finger food. If you are going to be running around during the children’s dinner time, why not plan to make wraps? These can also be made ahead, wrapped and kept in the fridge, for everyone to eat later in the car. Wraps are a healthier alternative to take out and cheaper too.

Give meal planning a try and see how much easier it makes your life.

Planning a picnic

Going on a picnic can be both fun and exhausting. Fun as it is great way for family to spend time together. It is exhausting, as you need to organize the food and cold drinks, cutlery and crockery to take with you.

Planning a picnic is quite an undertaking, especially if you have small children.


Venues are important as you want somewhere where the children are safe can have fun running around, riding bikes and enjoying themselves, where you can relax and not worry too much. So avoiding places with large bodies of water might be a consideration.

A great venue with little children and babies, is your back/front yard. Very little traveling is required, you know it’s safe and if you forget anything it is not far to go to fetch it!

Planning a picnic? The venue is as important as the menu


Then there is your comfort, beach chairs for those who prefer not to sit on the ground. Ground cover that is large enough for the rest of the picnickers.

Plates, cups and cutlery are also a consideration. Do you have a stock of disposable items to use at the picnic or are you going to use your normal everyday cutlery and crockery?

If you are using disposables, don’t forget the trash bag for your rubbish.

What to eat?

Now for the most important part of picnic, the food. What are you going to be serving at the picnic and how many people are joining you?

Salads are usually standard potato salad but what if you want a bean salad or a green salad with dressing? Containers need to suit your salad. Potato salad doesn’t need to be in an airtight container but a salad with a dressing or sauce will need to be properly sealed.

Are you taking cold meats or cold meat sandwiches? Cold meats are easy, you take them as they come packaged.  If you prefer sandwiches are you going to prepare them at home or are you taking bread and spread with to make the sandwiches at the picnic?

picnic food
How will you be serving your food?

The bee issue

Sugary drinks attract bees, so if you have anyone with an allergies then cups with lids and bottles that close are better than cans, water is better than either. If you are me though then water is not going to cut it on a picnic.

bees at a picnic
Sugary drinks and food attract bees so think carefully about what you are taking with

Serviettes (napkins), I always forget the serviettes! Hand wipes are a good idea for sticky fingers as ablution facilities are not always nearby.

If you plan for your picnic beforehand, not only will it be less stressful on you but you are able to plan a healthier picnic than you would in a last minute dash for the picnic basket.


When was your last picnic? I don’t think my family has been on one in at least 5 years, teenagers with a social life don’t seem to keen!

Why you need a calendar?

Organised Chaos Calendars

Creating a calendar for the family, helps avoid the clashing of schedules. I know in our house we often seem to go for ages with nothing and then 5 events on one day.

How many do you have?

If your school has 20 children in a class and you have 3 children that could potentially be 60 birthday parties! There are only 52 weeks in a year. This is bound to result in clashes. We haven’t even started with the adults yet.

Let’s cut down to a family with only two children, plus two parents who each have one sibling and two parents. The parents’ siblings also have two children this now takes family birthdays to 16 birthdays for family alone. Granted not everyone is going to have a party, but you still need to keep track of milestones. Things like anniversaries and major birthdays.

Extra Murals

Now add in extra murals, and possibly concerts or competitions that go with the extra murals. School sports days and exhibitions that need to be attended, work functions or training that you need to be at and you can begin to see the importance of a family calendar.

Remember you need to add in dentist, doctor and other appointments to the calendar as well and suddenly your calendar is full.

My family calendar not only has birthdays and anniversaries on it, it also includes Jewish holidays and the getting sorted plan, plus my meal planning blog ideas. School holidays add vacations need to be written on so that you don’t double bookings.

Colour Coding

To keep track I use different colours for different events. As all my children are teenagers, we have fewer parties but more social events. I use a write and wipe wall calendar and use a permanent marker for events that are not going to change. Birthdays, anniversaries, Jewish Holidays and school terms are all in permanent marker. I use a second colour for meal planning (blog ideas and clients planning), and for Getting Sorted, and another for parties and special events.

Family Calendar
The family calendar has all the important information on it.

One of the most important aspects of this calendar is to update it regularly. Put it in a place where everyone in the household can see it.


I also have emergency and important phone numbers in permanent marker on my calendar.

Are you on the Facebook group, why not join us if you haven’t yet?

Do you have a family calendar? I would love for you to share your ideas with us.

Car find cleanout

This week we tackle the car, this is a fairly tough task, for those mom’s with little kids.

keeping the car clean!

Car clean
We bring a little of the outside into our cars every day.

Every time you get into the car you bring the outside in with you! Then the kids eat or drink in the back of the car so, inevitably, there is spillage, whether it’s the yoghurt or the raisins, it still needs to be cleaned up. I have learnt to keep a plastic shopping bag in my car, with one handle tied around the gear shift to work as a dustbin.
Snotty tissues, plastic wrappers and that ‘take away’ coffee cup all go in there when they no longer serve their purpose. That way you will have slightly less to clean out. Depending on how much and what is in the bag, I either remove it weekly or monthly. If your left- over tuna bagel is in there, daily might be your option.

It’s in the bag

For the weekly stops at the store, I have a collection of plastic bags in the boot (trunk for the non-South Africans). That way I save money on bags, save the environment by recycling and have the emergency sick bag nearby.

The car seat

Car seats (those amazing things that save our children’s lives) remember, your child must be in a car seat till the age of 4 and a booster seat till the age of 10. No child should ever be in the front seat of the car until they reach a height of 1,2 m or 35kg. Sorry for the tangent, this is a topic I am quite dogmatic about. You can learn more at Back to my topic, the amazing car seat has all sorts of nooks and crannies into which little fingers can stuff so many goodies. It is important to clean your car seat regularly, especial around the harness buckles, as a sticky buckle can malfunction and endanger your little ones’ life.


The cubby a great hiding place for that slab of chocolate you don't want to share!
The cubby a great hiding place for that slab of chocolate you don’t want to share!

The cubby hole; what can I say? I won’t even begin to tell you the weird and wonderful finds discovered in this tiny little storage compartment of the car. The half-eaten sandwich and the now melted chocolate that was meant for after dinner, and that’s just me.

Trunk treasure

The boot/trunk, what a treasure trove we have there except possibly the one thing you actually need! Your boot must contain a red triangle (R500 fine if you don’t have one), a first aid kit, a tow rope, a lug wrench (that cross thingy to loosen the nuts, when you change the tire), a flat tire repair kit (don’t have that one though) and your plastic and fabric reusable shopping bags and, most importantly, a fully inflated spare tire.

Car safety kit, everyone should have one!
Car safety kit, everyone should have one!

During my last car clear out, I found about 30 tiny salt and pepper packets, a single sock and a towel which doesn’t match anything in my house.

Car activity organiser

One of the life savers in the car when the children were small, was the sorter in which we stored paper and coloured pencils, books and other bits to keep the natives quiet for all of 5 minutes, you hang them over the back of the front seats. Carefully empty those regularly as you never know what can be stored in there.
One friend, who shall remain nameless to protect her now adult children from mortification, could not work out why her car smelled so bad. The car sorter/activity centre had been put into the boot without being checked and during their road trip to the Cape, her husband had changed the dirty nappy (diaper to the rest of you) and stuck it in there and then forgot about it as the enjoyed their holiday.
What interesting finds have you uncovered cleaning out the car?

Never Ever Again!

Never again! Never again will I try to do anything but monthly planning and shopping!

My trial!

Over the last two months I decided to try out weekly and fortnightly meal planning and shopping and I hated it and so did my family.

I forgot to plan the meals; I forgot to load the shopping onto the online site and I had to do a week’s worth of shopping either on a Sunday, or worse, after work.

Monthly menu plan

I have said this over and over and people who know me, know that I HATE the COLD!!!

Weekly or Monthly?

This weekly shopping thing was a nightmare! I either had to shop after work or on a Sunday morning, when all I wanted to do was go home and get warm.

The result of this was that half the time whatever meal I had planned, I didn’t have the ingredients needed because I hadn’t yet been to the shops. Now I had to go digging in the cupboard where I barely had any ingredients because I hadn’t been shopping; now I had to find something nutritious to cook for my family to eat.

When the cupboard is bare
When the cupboard is bare

In between all of this cold and chaos, my mom got very ill and, just as she got better, I hurt my knee and was on crutches for a week. I was stressed out, in pain and cold and then was still expected to go shopping!

Reluctant cooks

I do have children old enough to actually cook something but, let’s be realistic – getting a reluctant teenager to do anything is a ‘mission impossible’.

One almost set fire to my kitchen after leaving the kitchen to do something else and forgot the food on the stove. I blew the budget by getting take out twice in one month, just to avoid the irritation of it all.

Getting distracted while cooking-reluctant chef
Getting distracted while cooking-reluctant chef

School lunches were interesting, with one lunch being bread with homemade mayonnaise and homemade pickles; the real surprise was that they actually liked it.

Sanity is bound to return

Everything is back to normal at last.  So now I want to know how often do you shop? How often would you like to shop? I would love to hear from you as to what meal planning and shopping tips you would like to learn about and what tips you have to share with us?

The law of consequence

Join the campaign today
Join the campaign today

In May 2015 it became law that all children under the age of 4 must be restrained in an age appropriate car seat or booster seat. The consequences of not following the law could be devastating to your family.


It only takes 52 seconds to change your life

I wrote about this last year as I am very passionate about this safety issue.

So this time I decided to write a no holds barred post, prompted by the ‘carseatfullstop’ campaign., started by Mandy-Lee Miller of

 It’s Law

It is the law and yet every day I drive past cars with children standing between the front seats, bouncing around on the back seat without seat belts, standing with their heads out of the sun roof or sitting on parent’s laps. Have you ever seen a decapitated body? Sadly I have.

It is law that children be in age appropriate car seats
It is law that children be in age appropriate car seats

Are you negligent?

For those of us privileged to have our own transport, this should be a no brainer! If you don’t put your children in the correct size car seat, age appropriate booster seats, or don’t make them wear seat belts, you are a negligent parent! And to the parents who wear their seat belts but allow their children to be unrestrained, I have no words, except to ask, don’t you love your child?

So what if you have never had an accident before, and have a perfect driving record? It only takes one accident and you get to live the rest of your life with regrets.

 Public transport for children

Those that I have sympathy for are the poor parents who must use public transport. They don’t get the choice of putting their little one into a car seat to help ensure that they arrive at the destination alive. They risk their lives every day getting into minibus taxis, whose drivers insist that the child sits on the mothers lap or they have to pay the full fee! The law also requires these taxis to have enough seat belts for their capacity and we all know that often these taxis have more passengers than seats. I so wish there was something that could be done but with an ineffectual traffic department, these parents just have to pray they get to their destination safely.

Why can't this be the reality for all?
Why can’t this be the reality for all?

 The statistics

The most recent statistics that I could find stated that 50% of road accidents resulted in the highest number of deaths due to injury in children under 5. US studies showed that seat belts could have prevented 75% of injuries in children under 5 and 50% in children aged 4-12.

A little bit of physics; if you are travelling at 60km/h and have to brake suddenly, the unrestrained passenger carries on going not only at 60km/h but also with their weight increased by 30-40%. It is beyond my skills to give you that physics of what happens when you hit another car or a stationary object, but perhaps the video below will help you understand.

 Be warned

I found this YouTube video by Salim and Simah, Safe and Sound- Oman, which I think parents need to see. It may offend sensitive viewers.


If you have car seats or booster seats, that you no longer need, because your children are over 12, you can drop them off at your nearest Renault dealer or Wheel Well in Johannesburg

Play Time

This week we are going to try and sort out the playroom, or if you don’t have one of those, just sorting out their toys.

20 years’ worth of toys!

Over the years I have collected tons of toys and books.  I have 4 children but instead of getting rid of the toys as they grew older, we just added to the collection. My clutter is now so bad in certain rooms that I had to call in expert help.

I read an article a few years ago about getting the children to help you sort their toys and books, so I tried it. Not a winner at all. They kept finding things they wanted to keep.  At that stage my girls were still pre-teens and they would find stuff and then run off and play with their new find. My son was a lot better.

I gave up then but now it is time to begin again.  They are all teenagers now, so the baby doll without the eyes and the one with the blue face (my middle daughter wanted to do CPR so she painted the face blue) can all be tossed.  All the Noddy books, pre-school books and ABC books are being donated to charities and schools which need them.

Time to get rid of this creepy doll
Time to get rid of this creepy doll

Everything in its’ place

There is a lot of work to do. If you have the space to create a playroom, then do so.  There is nothing better than being able to close the door on the mess, especially when you have already cleaned the area 2 or 3 times that day.

Depending on how old your children are, you will need to create either a play area or a study area and sometimes both.

Book shelves are great for this as you can put nice baskets or boxes on the lower shelves for toys and reading books and school books on higher shelves.

Boxes also work for toys but children then tend to pull everything out and play in the box!

Where to start?

Are you finished having children? How old are they?  These are just two of the questions you need to ask yourself.

Any books that your children have out grown pack up and donate!  There are so many places that need them. Broken books should be placed in recycling bins/bags for disposal.

Next the toys!  One bag is for tossing and one bag is for donating. If it is broken in any way, it gets tossed! If your children no longer play with it, sell it, swap it or donate it.

Whatever you do, don’t make my mistake! Make sure you get it out of your house immediately it is sorted.  My first attempt made it into boxes which never left the house, so it actually looked worse than before!


With my family being older, we have what was a very tiny playroom that is a guest/TV room, which is now used as the ironing room, still full of all the toys that I haven’t got rid of yet!

Don't forget to get rid of the suff you have sorted!
Don’t forget to get rid of the suff you have sorted!

How do you organise your children’s play area?  Share some ideas or even pictures!

Dining time or is it?

Dining in

For many of us, the dining room is a multi-purpose area, it is used for homework and in my case it is also used for teaching a jewellery class and occasionally an office, and this is especially true when I need to spread out.

I previously wrote in January, about creating homework space in your dining room. The morning launch!

My dining room table is the first large, flat surface handy when you get into the house, so my family has a habit of dumping their bags there and then having to clear them off when it is time for supper.

Eating together

As a rule we all have supper together every night, except Saturday and Sunday nights, no cell phones or other electronic devices are allowed and you have to spend at least 30 minutes at the table, this is a new concept I introduced a 18 months ago and was a little difficult to enforce in the beginning but they have all learnt, my kids are older so this is a reasonable expectation, my children also discovered that they actually like each other a little!

If your dining room is the catch area for just about everything, then it is important that it be easy to clear or at least well organised. The hardest part will be training your family.

Recently when we were redoing the floors in the lounge, my dining room became the storage area for the lounge furniture and everything else we had in it and we had to eat in the kitchen on a trestle table. It was a little bit of a tight squeeze, but a fun adventure none the less and thankfully only for a few days.

What my dining room looked like during the floor upgrade
What my dining room looked like during the floor upgrade

What’s the purpose?

As I said,  I use the dining room table for teaching my jewellery class, as the room where I keep all the beads is also part of my son’s room and privacy aside, it is too small an area to fit more than 1 person at a time (also I am embarrassed to say, it is very overcrowded and looks like a hoarders nest, so now not even one person can fit in it), I have a box to put the tools and beads that are needed for  whatever project my class is currently working on, and after each class everything goes in to the box till the next class.

Teaching a jewellery class
Teaching a jewellery class

The spread

When I am planning the meals for my clients and for my family, I need to spread myself out; I just have to pack everything up in time for supper, so it is important that you have something to put everything into to make it easier when you need to tidy up.

If you need to keep things in the dining room, and this may be especially true for moms that home-school or in a home with limited rooms and space, I would suggest some storage that either has a door or a cover, so that when you want to use your dining room for entertaining, all the books are out of sight.

under counter storage and baskets
under counter storage and baskets

My dining room set has a matching dresser/sideboard, where I store my smart dinner service (I use a separated dinner service for Sabbath).  Some people are able to store their table cloths there; others have them stored in a linen cupboard.

The cover up

When was the last time you counted your smart cutlery and crockery? Over the years I have lost a few pieces, some forks to the dustbin I am sure and plates have been broken, but what about those table cloths? Do you know how many you have? I have a few in different sizes as I have a table that can be closed down to seat 4 or opened to seat 16, I only have 12 chairs though.

Use your fifteen minutes to sort out the different sizes, to check for stains and tears that can be repaired and those that can’t.

Do you have any tablecloths for tables you no longer own? I do, so I will use my 15 minutes for that.

What you got?

Your dinner service needs looking after too, as I said, I have one service that I use only on Sabbath and then another that I use for every day, a lot of plates have chips or cracks, that make them no longer safe to use. Inspect your crockery and your drinking glasses, cups and mugs for cracks and chips, even your oven ware, a crack weakens the ceramic/porcelain and poses a risk of shattering if you pour something hot into it. I also have never bought a set of crockery for myself, I was given one set as a wedding present and I have been given my other sets by my mother in law, who no longer needs or uses  them.

Do you have antique plates or cups, are they ever used or are they on display?

A Genius Strategy that will cost you R4350!

Genius Strategy

Previously I wrote about Pick n Pay’s marketing gimmick, The Stikeez How many do you have?

Itty Bitty
Itty Bitty

In an absolutely amazing marketing strategy a competing supermarket chain will be increasing their

profits, (while stocks last)! You will get a ‘free’ gift if you spend a certain amount. Every mommies’

FB group is talking about this and it is all over the internet!

The latest craze – miniature groceries! In all honesty, if my girls were still playing with dolls, I would

probably be among the crowd. TG those days are over, although there are many adult women who

are collecting these for themselves and then there are moms collecting for their babies for when

they are older!

Teeny Tiny
Teeny Tiny

I mean they really are cute, I can even remember when we used to put empty crisp packets in the

oven to shrink them to make those little mini groceries for Barbie and friends. Although, I somehow

recall making a hole and using them as charms on bracelets and necklaces.


To get this free gift you have to spend a minimum of R150 to get one and while R150 is not all that

difficult to spend, if you want to collect all 29, you need to spend a minimum of R 4350! Now what

happens when you have more than 1 child? By the way, you can’t choose what you get, they are in

sealed packets!

Finally, you have the entire collection, but now you need the collectors case (R29.99), the shopping

basket (R49.99), the little shop (R149.99) and the little trolley (R 149.99). This is assuming you had

no duplicates at all and you have spent more than R4700 at this one Supermarket chain.

Teaching young entrepreneurs
Teaching young entrepreneurs

On the positive side of this marketing project, the chain has great ideas for little entrepreneurs,

which includes profit and loss worksheets for your little shop, with ideas on marketing, making a

little extra money and saving.

They also have a national swop day (30 July), where everyone gets a chance to swop out their

duplicates. You don’t have to wait till then to swop your extras, all you have to do is go to their site

and you can share the images of the products you don’t want on social media and see if your friends

have one you need.

Your R4350 collection
Your R4350 collection

There is also a R10 000 prize for the kid who manages to collect all 29 in the fastest time, plus

another R10 000 for that child’s school. Now if that isn’t going to get mothers shopping, then I don’t

know what will!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am talking about the Checkers group. I say well done to their

marketing department for a brilliant campaign that is going to see their July profits soar.

Who of you are going to do your shopping at Checkers this month?

Medicine cupboards

Medications are a necessary part of life when living with kids.  Especially essential is having a good first aid kit and the right medications are important.

Plasters of all sizes are a must but make sure they are not in reach of toddlers and young children otherwise you will be going through boxes by the day, especially the character plasters.

Expired Medication

Go through all your medicines and check expiry dates.  All expired medication should be taken to your pharmacy for proper disposal.  There are also some GP’s who collect medication which has not expired and which you no longer use.  They then distribute them to patients who have no money and need those medications.

First aid kits

A very important item in every home is the first aid kit! You can either put the first aid kit together yourself or you can buy one from your pharmacy, supermarket and other places. First aid kits do not come with any type of medication.  Remember that it is illegal to give someone medication. Parents can give to children and family members but in your office the health and safety act says that you may not give even a paracetamol for a headache.  This is to prevent the possibility of allergic reactions or toxic interactions between what you give your colleague or employee and what they have taken at home whether chronic or once off.

a good first aid kit is essential
a good first aid kit is essential

What to keep

A good idea is to speak to your doctor about keeping the following items on hand at home; pain relief medication for headaches, mild antispasmodics for the occasional abdominal cramp as well as over the counter mild antihistamine, antiseptic cream, and an allergy cream.

It is important to store them correctly in a cool dry place and out of reach of kids.  We took it one step further and also had a safety lock box as my son liked to climb and open cupboards when he was little.


Don’t accidentally overdose or poison someone

Please remember that adult dose vitamins are toxic to children and should also not be left lying around.  However, even the kids vitamins can cause problems because the chewable vitamins often taste like sweets and children like to eat them.  Certain vitamins are toxic if they are taken in excess, it is, therefore, not a good idea to tell kids that they are getting a sweetie each day.

While paracetamol is one of the safest medications available, an overdose can have severe and permanent repercussions.

Here is a link to a video of what to put in your first aid kit.

Do you have a first aid kit? Do you have more than one? What is your most essential item in the kit?