Checkers get you to spend in a good way!

My Little Garden

Checkers get you to spend in a good way!

Now this is a campaign I can truly say, go spend your money there! Once this campaign is over you will continue to save as the seeds continue to propagate.

My Little Garden
My little garden all planted! Thank you Checkers

Growing for the future

Checkers introduces the “little garden”, gone are those plastic groceries. Here is something to help our children learn about healthy foods and sustainability, an added bonus is that everything is bio degradable!

Who cares that you have to spend R150 to get one of these 24 seedling kits. The kits include 8 veggies, 8 herbs and 8 flower type seeds.

Instructions on how to water your seeds, including using what you have at home to create a watering system.

The seeds each come with facts about them. Some of the facts will have medical personal shaking their heads in despair but why shouldn’t weird facts be included in the package.

Checkers get you to spend in a good way! 1
The little seed boxes, instructions on the inside

We are number 1 in Africa!

South Africa has the highest obesity rate in Africa for children under the age of 12. We are not talking merely overweight or fat but obese.

Getting children interested in gardening and growing is a small step towards teaching them about where our food comes from and healthy eating habits.

I do think that children will be more receptive to eating something they have grown themselves. A lot of children do not know where our fresh produce comes from and the more we become urbanized and indoctrinated into the fast food mind set, the less they will know. Ask the average city born child where milk or butter comes from and they would probably answer, ‘the shops’.

In South Africa our children are mostly still able to identify a potato, tomato or a cucumber in its natural form. Now ask them what their chips are made of? Tomato sauce is usually an easy one as it says tomato in the name.

The only thing I could probably do without is the repotting part. Since I don’t have little children that need the supervision, I am at least spared the digging in the dirt.

Digging in the dirt is not something I am against  as such, playing with mud and dirt is healthy for a child, it’s just that well, I am adult now and creaky knees aside, I don’t think it was ever my thing. My 21 year old son has been nominated to have a bash at growing these vegetables, herbs and plants.

I think the only other negative to this great marketing campaign is the need for a plate and spoon.

putting in sand
Putting in the now wet sand in preparation for the seeds.

A nice touch!

The flower seeds are a nice touch as not all kids will get excited about boring vegetables. Then here is the good news, besides being pretty, all of the flowers are actually edible. This makes decorating your food fun. Here are the flowers that are edible in the Checkers little garden.  Remember that for most flowers only the petals are edible.

Baby’s breath – they slightly sweet

Cornflower- Edible but bitter, they taste a little like cloves.

Dianthus- you can eat the petals.

English Daisy- is edible but bitter

Pansy – edible and have a slight minty/wintergreen taste

Snap Dragon – the ones in the little garden are edible but they don’t really taste great and depending on the colour, could have either no taste or very bitter to the taste.

Sweet Alyssum- Both the flowers and the leaves are edible. They have a peppery  flavor

Viola- definitely edible and taste good too!

Well done Checkers marketing team, a fully edible garden!

I am normally an online shopper. This time however, I went to Checkers for my monthly groceries only to be able to get the garden!

Thank you and well done Checkers marketing team and the people who gave them a thumbs up to run this campaign.

Does this campaign make you want to go the Checkers specifically? I would love to see pictures of your growing garden!

First plant
The first of 24 planted!

Please note that this is not a sponsored blog post in anyway.

Listeria hysteria- Listeriosis

Listeria hysteria- Listeriosis 3
The listeriosis germ

Listeria hysteria, is it valid? Listeria or Listeriosis whatever you call it has been around for years.

Is the hysteria over the listeria outbreak warranted? In my opinion it is too little too late. The outbreak was bound to happen, and here’s why.

Food safety in South Africa

South Africa does not have a central authority or organisation to oversee food safety and hygiene. We have the Health Department who are blaming the food companies and then we have the ‘Food Safety Network’, this is the objective on their website.

Objective: The Directorate: Food Control ensures an optimal non-personal preventative primary health care service in respect of the safety of food for the South African community based on basic needs and the right to make informed choices without being misled by means of scientifically founded legislation, auditing and information actions.

We also have the Labour Department involved and the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry and sundry other departments involved in the import and export as well as the control of local food producers involved in all of this.

Listeria- South Africa wins the title!

Yet South Africa still managed to have the worst outbreak of Listeria in the world.

Foods to avoid
These are the most common meat products to find listeria in at present.

During my research I discovered that most of the legislation governing food control was last updated in the 1980’s!  See the following links

In an interview I found with Dr Lise Korsten, she mentions that most of the large companies are self-regulated.

Why did it take us 14 months to determine where the outbreak originated and besides closing the two factories where it was found, what is our government doing about it?


I know that there is private litigation happening, but what else? I missed the product recall 4th March 2018, possibly because I don’t use Enterprise or Rainbow chicken products. Products are still being recalled.

Dr Korsten said in her interview on, that a food safety outbreak was imminent and had been expected by the scientific community???

She also stated that over the last 10 years suggestions have been made but no headway was achieved.

We are not the only country to have outbreaks of Listeriosis.  We are, unfortunately, the title holder for the largest outbreak in the world, with nearly 1000 cases having been reported since Jan 2017!

At risk

Pregnant women are the most vulnerable.

  • It is found in raw or unpasteurised milk, or dairy products that contain unpasteurised milk,
  • Soft cheeses like feta, goat cheese and brie,
  • Foods from delicatessen counters like prepared salads and cold meats that have not been heated and reheated adequately,
  • Refrigerated pâtés
listeria facts
Things you need to know

Attention Dr Motsoaledi

Dr Motsoaledi, you admitted that the government had failed in its environmental inspection responsibilities, so what are you doing about it now?

I beg you, with all the good you are doing to promote healthy lifestyles in this beautiful country by encouraging exercise and pre-natal visits, vaccinations etc., please take action now to prevent this happening again!

Set up a National body to properly govern the food industry. Look at our food safety laws. Speak to the scientists and those who know.

This outbreak cost us the lives of 78 babies and over 100 other people. Who knows what these deaths have cost the economy now and in the future. According to an interview with times live, Dr Motsoaledi expects further outbreaks. and Namibia is now being affected too!


10 reason to grocery shop online

Online shopping

Here are 10 reasons to grocery shop on line. In June 2015 I started this blog and in the first article I spoke about how much I saved with online shopping.  Nearly 2 years later, I can still say it is worth the hassle.

Yes it was a huge learning curve on how to do the online shopping and still get everything I ordered. I have learned the best days to order, what I can’t order and what I must specify as ‘no substitutions’. The first time was really painful!

1.     You can shop anytime

Our country is held hostage by the taxi drivers, staff at the end of the day are in a rush to get off work so they can catch the last taxi of the day. If you are late finishing work you don’t have to rush to make it before the store closes, because there is no closing time.

Shopping times
Online shopping is 24/7

2.     No rude staff

I have to laugh when I see the signs on the tills that remind staff to greet the customer with a smile. I have seen this very rarely. Customer service seems to be a vague concept that they are taught and then promptly forget. The staff is quite content to carry on their conversation about the evening before, what’s happening in their favourite soapy or how the new ‘protocol’ is unfair or the boss is rude. This is whether the client speaks their language or not.

3.     You can wear your pajamas

There is no dress code. Now I have seen people (mostly women) at the shops in their slippers, hair in curlers and once at my local store a lady in her nightie! I am not saying you must get dressed up and made up to go to the shops.  I know some would disagree, you never know who you might meet! At least in your own home you can happily do your shopping in your skivvies if you want, no one will judge you.

Image courtesy of CSN Media.

4.     Your stuff is safe!

Shopping from the comfort of your own home, means your wallet, cellphone and children are safe. There are no pick pockets or child snatchers around! No worries about keeping your handbag close or people distracting you so their sticky fingers can lift your property.  You don’t have to worry about someone jamming your locking signal and then making off with the contents of your car or even your car itself.

5.     Guilt free parking

Since you won’t need your car, you don’t need change for the ‘car guard’ to help you unpack your trolley or help you reverse out the parking that you got into quite easily on your own.  I don’t always have change as I use my card for most things and then I put that in my phone cover and leave my bag at home. I have a savings option on my card, where the total purchase is rounded up and the difference is put into a little savings account.  Sometimes when I do have some change with me it is only 50c or so and I feel guilty that with my huge shopping trolley all I can give is some tiny change. I did try once to give a guy a can of food and he handed it back to me with a disgusted look.

6.     You save money

One thing about online grocery shopping is that impulse buying is reduced to a minimum. You have your list and you search for those items only.  There are no checkout counters, so no sweets or chocolates to tempt you. You aren’t wandering up and down aisles and taking things off the shelf, because they caught your eye.

Another thing I learned to do is to open the profiles of the stores that offer online shopping and compare prices. You can shop at 3 stores at once (maybe soon other grocery stores will offer online shopping). You get to choose your products and make use of any specials that are offered.

7.     It’s environmentally friendly

When you shop online you have the option of saying no to plastic bags! This not only helps the environment, it helps your pocket too. The delivery arrives in plastic containers, which are then unpacked in your home, no having to worry about carrying heavy stuff or plastic bags breaking.

8.     You can shop in stages

One thing that I am sure has happened to you, I know it has happened to me more than once. In fact it happened just last week. You are in the store and shopping is taking longer than planned. Suddenly you realise the time and you have to be at a meeting or fetch the kids from school, an extra mural or a friend. This means you are either going to be late, not going to be able to complete your shopping or have to abandon your trolley all together and come back another day. You land up with your shopping

Shopping online means when you can come back all your groceries are still in your trolley where you parked it. You don’t have to start again; nothing is going to go off, because it sat in the car while you did lift schemes.

9.     You can take as long as you want

This goes a long with the last point. You can shop in stages. It can be days or weeks. You can add to your trolley anytime you want.  If you log on and add to your trolley as soon as something is finished in your cupboard, you will not leave anything off of your shopping list.

10.                        No children

Shopping with babies and small children can be difficult. Having to push your trolley and control an over tired toddler can cause any mom to have a meltdown. Shopping online means you avoid, cranky, tired children, your own children and other people’s children too. It also means that if it is nap time, you can stop shopping, put your child down for a nap and go back to shopping. There is no nagging for this toy or that sweet. This applies to children of all ages.

Shopping with children
Image from

For breast feeding mom’s it means you can feed in comfort while still doing the shopping. No one complaining about you feeding in public, no having to go feed your baby in the public bathrooms either or going to sit in your hot car for privacy and then having people look in your window.

Some smaller stores allow you to phone in your order and they deliver, this is usually the butcher and specialty stores and has the same benefits of online shopping.

Do you online shop and if not, I would love to hear why not?

How to do recycling without leaving your house.

Last year I took my first foray into recycling. I wasn’t able to find out much, but what I did find was useful. Recycle or trash?

Recycling in Johannesburg

Since then I have found out a lot more. Johannesburg streets often ring with the sound of wheels rattling past our houses in the early hours of the morning.

The sound is the trolleys used by the plastic collectors that are rummaging through our bins for plastic that they can take to the recycling plant to earn a little cash. I recently learnt that if they take any plastic that cannot be recycled; they have to pay the recycling people to have it removed. This may be why you often find a mess around your garbage bin as they separate what they can earn from and leave the rest behind.

None of these people recycle glass or tin cans.

Paper is also collected by Ronnie Recycling, so that is not a problem in most areas.

Paper recycling
Paper Recycling,

You never have to go to the dump again

The trouble with most other recycling is that you have to take it to the dump, or PnP, Woolworths, which have small collection boxes for items like globes and batteries.

Woolworths Recycling bins

Then I found Whole Earth Recycling.  They supply you will blue recycling bags in which you can place recyclable products. They collect weekly or bi-monthly in most areas. The fees for my area are extremely reasonable and work on a sliding scale.

As we begin to work through our weekly sorting goals, this service will come in handy. They collect broken appliances big,and small, including computers, cables and old telephones.

Do you know what to recycle?

There is a full list on their website of what you can and can’t recycle.

I have about 30 glass bottles collecting dust as I did not want to put them in my refuse. If they break they can injure the garbage collectors. I have been too lazy to take them to the dump and now I don’t have to.

Please remember when you recycle tin cans, bottles or plastic that contained food, they must be rinsed thoroughly, before you place them in a blue bag.

Let’s get our country clean and help reduce pollution. Join me in my recycling effort either by signing up with a recycling company or taking your recyclable waste to the nearest municipal dump. I have really only researched Johannesburg, if you are in another area, province or country lets us know what you are doing for your recycling.

As I said, I am using Whole Earth Recycling for my collection. Prices work on a sliding scale but the fee is very reasonable. Go to to find out what it will cost you.

Whole Earth Recycling

Whole Earth Recycling
Whole Earth Recycling

Here is a little about Whole Earth.

Whole Earth Recycling was founded in March 2007 at Cluny Farm. Sorting was done by 4 sorters until 2008. Whole Earth Recycling then moved to Décor Park in 2009 and finally to Strijdom Park where they started their community based project in 2011.

Carmen Rayner purchased Whole Earth Recycling at the end of 2014 and the company hopes to grow from strength to strength. Whole Earth Recycling provides a simple, reliable and hassle-free way to recycle and by supporting Whole Earth Recycling you are supporting a wonderful community based project; a group of sorters calling themselves Hawk Flight.

How did it all begin?

The recyclable material that Whole Earth Recycling collects is sorted by the Hawk Flight team, currently a group of 24 sorters, and they generate an income for themselves by sorting and selling the material to a local buy-back centre. This is their only source of income and without it they would be rummaging through Municipal refuse bins (in most cases mixed with expired food etc.) in order to gather recyclables to sell. By recycling you are contributing towards job creation (a total of around 40 people), directly through the Whole Earth Recycling admin team, the drivers, and the truck assistants (loaders) and indirectly through the community based project, while reducing the impact that we are having on our environment. Every little bit helps.

Their collection service in its basic outline is:

Blue recycling bag
Blue Bags for recycling
  • They provide you with 10 blue recycling refuse bags every month;
  • All of your recycling (paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, cans, cartons such as Tetra Pak and electronic waste- anything with a plug) can be placed into the same blue bag- Hawk Flight take care of the sorting;
  • Place your recycling outside on your kerb every week (different days, for different areas) for collection and they will collect it.

The service costs for a household are as follows:

  • Registration fee (once off) R 114.00 AND
  • Collection fee of R 85.00 (depending on how many households use the service) per month to be paid in advance as follows:

The cost is around   R 85.00 (worked out on a sliding scale) for Feb 2017. Please note that there will be a small price increase of R 10.00 per month (R 2.50 per week) in March 2017 due to the increase in transport costs, blue recycling refuse bags etc. and please note that they haven’t increased their prices in two years.



The bags are included in the collection fee (a limit of 10 blue bags per month are provided. However, you are welcome to purchase extra blue bags from them at R 10.00 per roll of 10 bags or from your local supermarket).

Blue Recycling Bin
Large recycling bin

If you would like to make use of a blue 240L blue wheelie bin we can order one for you at R 855.00 each including VAT, delivery and a Whole Earth wheelie bin sticker. Alternatively, if you have a spare wheelie bin you could place a Whole Earth wheelie bin sticker on your existing wheelie bin. The stickers are R 39.90 each including VAT. Please note that they require the contents of the bin to be in bags for collection purposes. It is not necessary to purchase a wheelie bin; our team is quite happy to collect the loose blue bags.

If you would like to make use of their collection services please contact them on (011)791-4537.

Sitting Down

Sitting Down 5

Sitting Down

I am sitting in my lounge right now looking at my old stained carpet and all the collected junk and

wondering how we have lived like this for so long.

Every home has that one area that seems to collect everything. Sadly, I have three such areas. My

bedroom, the TV room and the worst is what is meant to be a home office ( which is actually part of

my lounge) so there is a screen which we put up to hide the collection of clutter.

It is definitely going to take more than 15 minutes to declutter my lounge.

This picture was taken before Sweep South came in to help me
This picture was taken before Sweep South came in to help me

Serving a purpose

Let’s start with the name – we call it the lounge and we have a TV room, we had a play room when

the kids where younger (now my bead room) but this room has many names in different homes It

can be the family room, the sitting room, the great room, but by whatever name you call it the room

definitely needs to have its purpose defined.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have this space, so defining areas of a room for a specific purpose

will help you declutter your space.

Get out of my house

I decided to start with getting rid of anything that is broken or damaged. Sadly this is not a 15 minute

task for me. Part of my lounge was designated a study for my husband but over the years has

become the place where things go when no one knows what to do with them.

What used to be a study, became a storeroom in my house!
What used to be a study, became a storeroom in my house!

Sweep South

In December 2015, I hired Sweep South to help me clean. The ladies they sent did the most amazing

job and then I let them down by not getting rid of the boxes of old books that we packed for

donation. It is out there!

The books I was meant to get rid of in December!
The books I was meant to get rid of in December!

I am using the opportunity of having my floors redone and the roof/ceiling fixed to try again. I have

already got rid of 3 non-functioning laptops and 2 printers and an old box shape computer screen!

The curtains are being washed in preparation for the completed work. My aunt does project

management and her builder has come in at the most reasonable amount.

My husband's study after we had emptied it out
My husband’s study after we had emptied it out

Already my lounge has taken shape and will be where we keep our many books, which are currently

scattered all over the house.

The newly finished floors look incredible and my lounge is once again a place in which to sit

comfortably. I am looking forward to being able to hang up my curtains again as it is a little cold right

now without them.

New floors


This time I am definitely not keeping the donation box. I have made a declaration to my family, ‘If it

doesn’t work, or you are too old for it, or it is just plain ugly, it may not come back into my house!’ It

is a good thing that it is winter and there is no rain as all of this is outside in the garden.

I have included a small cleaning schedule to help keep your lounge looking lived in but not untidy.


 Sweep and/ or mop the floors.

 Give a quick wipe to dining room chairs, tables and couches and clean up spills and daily

living that happens


 Vacuum your carpets and if you have fabric furniture do the furniture as well

 Dust any pictures, paintings and mirrors, wall units and bookshelves you have in these


 Every 2 weeks polish your leather or wood furniture, polishing too often allows a buildup of

oil on your furniture making it harder to clean marks off. Sometimes you will find black build

up in the joints of wood furniture from polishing it too often.


 Wipe down the TV screen and any computer screens.

 Clean the outside of your DVD player.


 Damp dust all the skirting boards

 Wash the windows

 Polish any silverware


 Clean light switches, door handles and light covers

 Lift the couch cushions and deep clean. Also move the lounge suite and clean behind and

under it


 Wash the walls, doors and ceilings

 Clean the grouting between the tiles, if you have tiles or wash the carpets.


What do you use your lounge for?

Fridge and Freezer lost and found

If you can’t remember what you had for supper last week, why not take a peek into the back of your fridge? I often used to find interesting specimens growing in the containers, even an onion, or two, sprouting!

Do you have old leftovers?
Do you have old leftovers?

What do you have?  A chest freezer or an upright? Even with the best of intentions, things get lost in the ice! It is also a good time to take stock!

What’s lurking on the top of your fridge? I am quite short and I often use the space above my fridge for storage and I used to get this cleaned only once a year, just before Passover. It was like being at a store, the amazing things I would find up there.


Often lurking in the back of your fridge are bottles of something that you opened, used a little and then forgot about. I have an onion saver and occasionally I will use only ½ an onion and put the other half in the container into the fridge to use another day. Weeks later I will find it pushed to the back.  When I open it, it has started growing!

Before I began meal planning and took over the cooking from my domestic, we had a lot of left-overs.  These would sit in the fridge for weeks, as the kids weren’t interested in the unappetising food as a second meal, and nobody ever cleared out the fridge!

Thankfully, since I took over the cooking and I plan our meals for the month, we not only no longer have leftovers, we don’t have much waste either, as I only buy what is needed for the meal plan., I Plan

Day 2, 3 and 4

I have combined these days as it can take a while to get this done properly.

Clearing out the freezer

Clearing out your freezer can be an adventure. I have always been told that if you have a chest freezer, you lose a lot produce in it. As part of my foray into trying to cut down on how much I spend on groceries each month, I cleared out my freezer, as well as the fridge and grocery cupboard and did an inventory. I found the most amazing things. I normally clear out my freezer once a year for Passover. In fact the entire kitchen gets well cleaned, but it never really got sorted.  I literally went shopping in my own kitchen and only went to the shop for milk, bread and fresh fruit. I had enough food for 3 whole weeks! How long has it been for you?

Cleaning out your freezer will save you money!
Cleaning out your freezer will save you money!

Take an inventory

Last week one of our tasks was to inventory the grocery cupboard.  This week we are taking inventory of the freezer.  You can use the contents to plan your meals for the next few days. http://I own my kitchen

Defrost the freezer

Don’t forget to defrost your freezer before packing everything back in.  With your newly defrosted fridge/freezer you can now pack everything in an easy to find way.

I found this article on how to defrost your freezer.

Friday Passover begins, so I take this opportunity to wish all my Jewish followers and readers a Chag Kosher L’Pesach!

Recycle or trash?

Time to recycle
Time to recycle

Recycling is not something we, as South Africans, do very well and our waste management companies don’t appear to be very open to it. What we do have, however, are the street guys with their trolley’s making a noise and a mess on garbage collection day.

put out your plastic, paper and tins for these street guys to collect
put out your plastic, paper and tins for these street guys to collect

These men and women go through our bins looking for paper, plastic and metal, searching for items that they can collect and take to the recycling depot, where it is sorted and weighed and then they are paid for it.

I am sure everyone has had a run in with these people as they sometimes leave quite a mess behind.

Why not do something good? Sort your garbage into recyclable and non- recyclable bags, before you bin anything. Make an area where you can separate the trash into different bins or boxes that will allow these people to collect their chosen currency and not have to go ‘dumpster diving’ in your garbage.

create your own recycling centre, this picture is thanks to
create your own recycling centre, this picture is thanks to

Yes, this will take some training for ourselves and our households, but we will be doing that little bit towards the environment and alleviation of poverty.

It is all very well for me to talk about it, but how do we implement it?  The first thing is to know what is recyclable, so here is a list:

I got this off


  • Cold drink and beer cans
  • Food tins
  • Metal lids off glass jars
  • Aluminium cans (e.g., Red Bull),  foil and foil packaging
  • Paint, oil and aerosol cans (leave labels on them so recyclers can see whether they contain hazardous material).
  • Rusty cans can be recycled


  • Beverage bottles
  • Food jars, such as tomato sauce, jam and mayonnaise bottles

You cannot recycle

  • Drinking glasses
  • Light bulbs  – ordinary and energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – and fluorescent tubes. NB CFLs and fluorescent tubes should not be thrown away with ordinary rubbish. They contain mercury, a toxin that can leach into the soil and groundwater if not disposed of properly. Take your old CFLs to the drop-off points at Pick n Pay and Woolworths stores where they will be disposed of safely. If you don’t have this option, place your old CFLs in a sealed plastic bag before you throw them in the bin.


  • White office paper
  • Magazines and books (as long as nothing is laminated)
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard (boxes and cereal boxes).

The following CANNOT be recycled:

  • Laminated or waxy paper
  • Punch confetti
  • Carbon paper
  • Stickers



Plastics are made from oil, a non-renewable resource,but much of the plastic packaging we use every day is recyclable. Ice cream and milk containers, fabric softener bottles, plastic bags and even cling-wrap can all be recycled.

The easiest way to determine whether a plastic product is recyclable is by looking for its recycling logo. There are seven plastic recycling logos and most plastic packaging is imprinted with one of them. The logos tell you what type of plastic a container is made of. Each type has to be recycled separately.

Plastic recycling symbols from
Plastic recycling symbols from


I think that it is still okay to put all plastic together and the collectors can sort what they want.

Fruit juice and milk containers look like they’re made out of paper, but they are lined with aluminium foil and plastic so they must be recycled separately. Tetra Pak has opened its first small-scale recycling facility in Germiston, Gauteng, where its packaging is recycled into roof tiles, furniture and stationery. The company has plans to open more recycling plants around South Africa.



Disposable batteries are not recycled – this is apparently because the material recovery rate is too small to make recycling economically viable. But they should not be thrown away with ordinary household waste either, because they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the soil and groundwater. Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, are recyclable. Add to this the fact that they last a lot longer than ordinary batteries and you have a compelling argument to buy rechargeable batteries from now on.

You CANNOT recycle

  • Pyrex
  • Ceramics (plates).


My small suggestion is to use your regular kitchen bin for things that cannot be recycled. A second bin for food waste, as this can be turned into fertilizer for your garden.   Other small bins for plastic, paper, metal and glass. You can have an extra box, or bag, for things like batteries that you can then take once a month to PnP or Woolies.

Batteries, globes, printer ink cartridges and plastic bags can be dropped off at PnP or Woolworths
Batteries, globes, printer ink cartridges and plastic bags can be dropped off at PnP or Woolworths

I have been doing paper for a while, because we get the Mondi recycling bags, and in the last few months, plastic bottles, but nothing else.

What do you recycle? I would like to try and begin recycling one new thing as a way to help decrease pollution. Who is with me?

Let me know in the comments, what you have chosen to recycle. Let’s all begin to make a difference.

How long could you last in an emergency?

We are entering our 4th week of decluttering and I hope it is going well? I am still waiting for your pictures!

For those whose kids are at school, things should have started settling into a routine of sorts by now and you are ready to move on to this week’s task.

How many of us have an emergency preparedness kit? I don’t mean a first aid kit, I mean a kit that will help you in the event of load shedding, floods (when the drought is over) or even flash floods from the Johannesburg afternoon storms and, as witnessed last year, the flooding in Cape Town. We have also seen the devastation which the fires have brought and which are currently still raging in the Cape and, of course, South Africa’s favourite past time, service delivery strikes.

Cape Town Fires kept emergency service working overtime
The recent fire on the mountain in Cape Town, emergency services struggled to contain it.

Who remembers people all going into panic mode when the ANC government came into power? People were stocking up like it was the end of the world and, then again to a lesser extent, when Mr Mandela died, all in preparation for a civil war that T.G. hasn’t happened.

Stocked pantry
Stocking up on non-perishables, in case of emergency

This post is not meant to be an alarmist post.  It is simply for us to be aware of what can happen and how to minimize its impact on our lives.

A while ago we had a strike which saw the shelves in the grocery stores empty of merchandise. How did you manage with that? Do you have enough tinned goods to last you for at least 3 days? For those with babies on formula, do you have an emergency tin? I remember after I stopped breastfeeding, running out more than once and having to send my husband to the garage store to buy a tin at double the price.

What about when the water is cut off so the municipality can do repairs? Sometimes you are notified and can fill jugs and bottles, or the bath with water for washing, but do you have bottled water for when you don’t get the notice, or the plumber can’t get out to repair your leaking or damaged pipes?  What about all the road works for the Rea Vaya transport system? They’ve hit the water pipes before now and they are probably going do it again.

Flooded roads
Johannesburg’s Double Decker M1 highway under water, not even emergency vehicles could get through

When I worked in Kempton Park at the Nursing college where I taught, if it rained the roads flooded as there was very poor drainage.  I remember coming to work one rainy night and having to walk from the parking lot to the hospital. The water was knee deep and we all had to hand our uniforms in to the laundry to dry and walked around in scrubs! In the Sandton area of Johannesburg, Sunninghill and Witkoppen, roads flood on a regular basis when it rains and the famous double decker highway is often under water. Flash flooding occurs when there is a sudden heavy rainfall. If it is near a small river, the river can suddenly overflow when it happens in cities and suburbs; it is due to the fact that the hard road surface doesn’t allow the water to run off, this combined with poor drainage, leads to flooding.

Roads under water
Every time the heavy rains fall the road floods, even emergency vehicles struggle to get through

Fires are another hazard which we don’t think of much! The Cape has just experienced some major fires, which is unfortunate but very common; it is dry and windy in summer, so the beautiful mountains are at risk, especially from careless campers and picnickers. Fires are most common around December in South Africa.  It is hot so we braai (Barbecue) and then there are those that insist on fireworks for New Years. Jewish homes have the festival of lights, where we light candles every night for 8 nights and Christmas trees get fairy lights that have been packed away from the previous year. Did you check the wiring before putting them up? Jewish people also light candles every Friday night to welcome the Sabbath.

The eight branched menorah we use to celebrate chanukah
The eight branched menorah we use to celebrate chanukah.

I cook with a gas stove.  If you do, do you have a fire extinguisher nearby and when was the last time you checked the expiry date? Who knows how to use the fire extinguisher in your house? If there is (heaven forbid) a fire, do you have an escape plan?

It is time to think about what you will need in an emergency for the safety of your whole family!

Toxic love

I would like to introduce a special guest writer, Felicity Ahern.  She is someone whom my mother and I have tried for ages to persuade her to write her own blog.  Reading her Facebook posts about simple everyday parenting moments, often has us in stitches!  So far, no luck. I did, however, ask her to write this post for me and, hopefully, there will be more to follow. Today she is writing on household cleaners.

Clockwise from the back, Felicity, Dale, Will and Charlie
Clockwise from the back, Felicity, Dale, Will and Charlie

Felicity is my ‘baby’ cousin who was born in South Africa and lives in Melbourne, Australia.  She is a wife and full time mother to a daughter and son, an aspiring community actress, actively interested in Australian politics, a very strong advocate for environmental issues and the only person I personally know who drives an electric car (Nissan Leaf).

Felicity’s first post for kasheringyourlife.

I had an epiphany not long after the birth of my first child.

I realised that to me, my child’s body was a temple and as such, I made sure I cooked all her food, with special attention paid to the ingredients I used and the nutrients involved. (My second child got whatever I could come up with, a lot from baby food companies so my halo slipped all the way to my butt with him but whatever, you get my point..)

You want to use safe household cleaners!

As time went on, I started to also pay attention to my children’s environment in which they were growing up. Specifically, our home and how we were cleaning it. To my shock I became aware that cleaning products can be deadly, toxic death traps of ‘deathness’!

I couldn’t use these products anymore and still feel like I was helping my family.

To this end, I began to look into natural products to use around the home, for my family but also for the environment, which is becoming increasingly damaged due to our careless use of toxic chemicals.

Here, I would like to talk about other options for a cleaner, chemical free family home.

If you use a multi-purpose spray for counters, hard surfaces, tables etc, you have a few choices.

First, you could buy earth-friendly brands. Here in Australia, I have found the affluent, bigger companies (who generally despoil the environment and its people regularly) have grabbed the prime supermarket shelf space right at eye level and a bit below.

Take a look next time you’re in the supermarket and you’ll see quite often, the earth friendly, eco-conscious products are buried either on the top shelf or the bottom. It isn’t often at easy access level. (That goes for food as well, I think.)

Just because it says eco friendly doesn't mean it is
Just because a household cleaner says eco friendly doesn’t mean it is

In Australia, we have a brand called Earth Choice. They’re pretty good, but you’re still using chemicals, just plant based ones…    They’re also a bit pricier. Yes, it IS more expensive to buy these types of products. I hate it but it is a fact.

Also, be aware, some brands SAY they’re earth friendly, they even brand themselves with names like “Nature’s Choice”, “Natural” or “Yay for Earth” (that last one was made up but you get my point!) but are using the new push for environmentally friendly products to make money.

Make sure you read the ingredients. If all the ingredients are indecipherable, step cautiously. Be ESPECIALLY cautious of companies who don’t bother with any ingredients list at all…. though I believe all ingredients must be listed in South Africa.

You want water, natural oils, no parabens…you want the company to specify what they don’t have and you want ingredients that don’t sound like they all climbed out of a beaker in a lab somewhere.
There IS a cheaper, even cleaner, and definitely my favourite, option.

Mix water and white vinegar in a spray bottle (use an old one under the sink, we all have them lying around most of the time) and voila!

White vinegar is a fantastic cleaning option and it’s entirely safe to use!

If you like, maybe add a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil which you can get in those little bottles.  This should last a fair while and add some sweetness to the air.

I also sometimes squeeze a little fresh orange into the bottle. Whatever you do, don’t squeeze citrus fruits directly into the spray bottle, strain it first or it will jam your trigger on the spray bottle and render it useless!!

I think cleaning companies have realised quite a few people have started using white vinegar for cleaning purposes and thus, there has been a new “cleaning vinegar” available to buy at an inflated price in Australia.

Don’t be fooled!! Just buy the regular cheap white vinegar and it is the same.  I buy a 2 litre white vinegar bottle for just over a dollar.

Well, see how you go and feel free to let us know how the white vinegar works out for you!

I use it on EVERYTHING!!

Here are some handy links if you feel the urge to investigate further, or want some clarification:


P.S. A large bottle of plain white vinegar sells for R20 at PnP! Spray bottles are available at all plastic and cleaning supply stores. This is the only thing I could find when asking about environmentally friendly products in South Africa. I have not used any of these products,

Are you ready?

The Rand Water Board announced this week that South Africa has been hit by the worst drought in 23 years!

The last droughts of this magnitude were in 1982 and 1991 and I remember them both! We are in for more heat waves, high incidences of fires and the hottest temperatures ever for this summer.

If we all do not start conserving water and monitoring our usage, we will be facing severe restrictions. Kwa Zulu Natal is already on restrictions.

Karl Labout of Rand Water stated that if we do not make changes the Vaal Dam with be empty within a year.

The Vaal dam could be empty within a year
The Vaal dam could be empty within a year

Water rationing is in place in KZN areas. The most affected being Durban, Stanger, Balito Bay, Ndwedwe, Richards Bay and areas supplied by the Hazelmere Dam which according to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has only 2 months of water left!

Hazelmere dam has only 2 months water supply left
Hazelmere dam has only 2 months water supply left

The areas where restrictions are in place are allotted a certain amount of water per day. If you use it up, you wait till the next day. Time tables are being given out weekly as they have (as Darren Wackhead Simpson of 947 Radio stated) load shedding for water!

Those with boreholes are less affected as they are not reliant on dam water. The water board is looking into digging more boreholes around the country.

Johannesburg and Tshwane have been placed on mild restrictions and you cannot use your hosepipe to wash cars, nor water gardens between the hours of 6 am to 6 pm, until further notice. We are expected to use watering cans and only water the plants and not the grass.

Only use sprinklers or hosepipes between 6am and 6pm
Only use sprinklers or hosepipes between 6am and 6pm

The Western Cape is sure to follow shortly, with the lowest recorded rainfall this winter in about 75 years, according to the City Council. They will be meeting soon to make their decisions.

How do we cope with water restrictions coming up to the holiday season when people are traveling?

Padkos (Literally, road food) – the staple of any good adventurer! My father is a firm believer in padkos, even if the trip is only JHB to Bella Bella (Warmbaths) which is, at most, 2 hours away. For most trips we pack sweets and chips (crisps) and cold drinks but now it would be a good idea to be more discerning of what we pack, whether you are travelling in a car for long distances, or going on a hike or walking trail, somewhere in this beautiful country of ours.

Foods that help keep you hydrated are important, so avoiding sugary drinks and chocolates is, however difficult, very important. Fruits like watermelons, oranges, grapefruits, peaches, nectarines and strawberries are great for staying hydrated as they contain large amounts of water and natural sugars.

The problem with sugary drinks and sweets is that they make you crave more sugar and this will make you thirstier. There is a scientific reason for this and if you want a deeper explanation, feel free to email me and ask. The basic explanation is that sugar absorbs water.

Banters, you are in luck! Coconut water is fantastic, not only for keeping you hydrated, but also supplying you with the needed electrolytes, vitamins, calcium and magnesium you lose while sweating.

With the excessive heat that the country is going to be experiencing, please read my previous article on heat related illnesses.

Here are some of the tips I remember from the previous water restriction period. These are good habits to have in general, as water will always be a precious commodity and deserves to be looked after.

1. When brushing your teeth, wet your brush and then turn off the tap; don’t let it run while you are brushing.

turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

2. Have showers not baths; in my house shower time is also limited to 7 minutes each. This took a while for the family to get into but it definitely helped our budget and now it will help with water saving.

3. Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.

4. As water shortages increase, do not flush your toilet every time you use it. The old saying was, ‘If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down.’

5. As much as I dislike using the disinfectant hand gels, (my hands just don’t feel clean unless I use soap and water) it is something people need to look at as you can’t wash your hands all the time, if there is a water shortage.

6. Don’t mop your floors every day, twice a week is often enough; if there is a very dirty section just wash that.

7. Don’t throw the dirty water down the drain after washing, use it in the garden.

8. Use your dishwasher! It not only uses less electricity but it also uses less water! Obviously only use it when it is full.

9. Another water saving tip, I remember from the last drought is putting a brick or weighted bottle into the cistern of the toilet to reduce the amount of water used when flushing.

Put a brick or weighted bottled to use less water when flushing
Put a brick or weighted bottled to use less water when flushing

Remember if you are travelling to rural areas, take along water purification tablets.

Stay water conscious and stay cool this summer.