Natural Living Family

The natural parenting place...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I haven't been posting much lately, partly because setting up a business around three kids is more than a full-time job in itself, but also because I simply have't had anything to say.. but the e-mail in my in box from this morning about South Africa refusing to give the Dalai Lama a visa to enter the country  just made me mad and really sad.  How ludicrous that the SA govt refuses a Visa to the Dalai Lama to keep China happy.  China with its horrible, horrible human rights track record and its general lack of respect for life (human and animal).

My blood pressure just goes through the roof when I think that I live in a country (a country that I love) where the shops are flooded with cheap Chinese rubbish, made by what amounts to slave labour in China and then refuses to allow somebody like the Dalai Lama into the country.  It is really sad that people who fought for the human rights of their fellow people can feel so little for what the Chinese government is doing to its own people – all in the name of money.

To me the issue is not about whether the Dalai Lama is allowed into SA, but rather about the fact that South Africa bows to what the Chinese govt wants, whether it is because the ANC feels they 'owe China' because of arms received during the struggle or because of pure greed, SA is allowing China to dictate what should be done.  They are allowing the events in Zimbabwe to just carry on...
I now feel the need to go play with my kids outside or my whole day will be wrercked, all this and the taxi strike we narrowly missed in Gauteng yesterday is really not the kind of future I envision for my kids - raising them in a world where money is more important than human rights. :-(

e-mail I received from

Despite its denial this week, our government appears to have refused the Dalai Lama an entry visa because of fears it may affect the burgeoning trade relationship with China.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called this act a
‘total betrayal of our struggle's history’ and along with other Nobel laureates including FW de Klerk has announced he will boycott the World Cup peace conference, which the Dalai Lama was planning to attend before it was postponed today.

Generations of South Africans fought long and hard for cultural respect, political equality and democracy in this beloved country. They struggled hand in hand with friends around the world for freedom. We appeal to you to sign the petition to President Motlanthe reminding him that the New South Africa is a country built on solidarity and calling on him to safeguard our sovereignty from unwanted Chinese government intervention. If enough of us sign, our voices will be heard by the President to reverse his decision and allow the Dalai Lama into the country before the World Cup:

South Africans have a proud history that must not be bargained away. Global solidarity and international leadership were instrumental in the demise of Apartheid. While economic ties with China have grown, culminating in last year's undisclosed agreement between our two countries, this opportunity should not come at the expense of human rights or support for one of the world's leading lights of peace and non-violence.

The Dalai Lama has been campaigning non-violently for autonomy for the Asian nation of Tibet from China for more than 50 years. Denying him a visa will weaken the resolve of other nations to stand up for human rights. It will certainly not serve the interests of South Africans. Almost a century ago, Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off a train in South Africa because of apartheid abuse. We must appeal to our government not to mete out similar disrespect to one of the most revered international figures of our times.

A Chinese official has admitted that they asked South Africa not to grant the visa citing the danger it would do to their bilateral relationship; the South African government has in turn said “it would not be in the interests of South Africa” to allow the Dalai Lama in. Let's together let our President know that
abandoning an international human rights struggle for a trade relationship is a rejection of South African history, and unacceptable for the South Africa of today:

This recent visa decision comes on the back of the South African government blocking vital UN Security Council decisions which would have encouraged human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe and Burma. Now
China appears to have been successful in telling our government who should and should not enter South African territory. This sets a dangerous precedent and we must appeal to the President of South Africa not to bow down to bullying tactics.

As we commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Dalai Lama being forced to flee his home in Tibet,
let's together call upon the government to issue a visa to enter the land known internationally for its commitment to political freedom and human rights.

With hope,

Elinor Sisulu, Human Rights Activist
and the Avaaz team


South African trading relationship with

Nobel Laureates respond to South African decision

Some reasons why South African refused to grant the visa

China African relations

More information about

Friday, 06 March 2009

Child Led Living

I have always thought that things like child led weaning and 'potty training' made a lot of sense, but weren't always easy to do. Recently I came to the realisation that in fact they are the simplest, easiest and most natural way of doing things.

With Ryan we decided to go the child led weaning route and while I did start him on solids sooner than I now think was necessary, he very soon started to feed himself and was eating pretty much whatever we ate. I never forced or bribed him to eat something he didn’t want to eat. Now at almost three years old, he is a healthy eater who prefers veggies to sweets and loves salad. He even enjoys foods like olives, pickles (ok, so not exactly healthy) and camembert cheese. He has no problem eating mushrooms, brinjals and baby-marrows – all items my twelve year old hates. Unfortunately with our oldest we weren’t as enlightened. While I never believed in forcing him to eat something he clearly didn’t like, he did learn a lot of bad eating habits at pre-school, back in the days before I was able to be at home with the kids. Now I just wait for Ryan to decide he no longer needs his ‘nanas’, but he will stop breastfeeding when he is ready. At this stage the most frustrating part of still nursing two kids is the comments from my mum-in-law. To Ryan nursing is not only a source of nourishment but also security, he is pretty high needs and given the choices of forcing him to wean and making him miserable or listening to funny comments from MIL when she visits, I would rather just deal with her. Funny enough Storm – who is seven months old – is the total opposite, to her breastfeeding is a source of nourishment and her security comes from cuddling with mom or dad. I sometimes wonder who will decide to wean first.

Ryan 'potty trained' – I use inverted commas because I didn’t do any training – he basically figured it out for himself by watching us - yippee. With the help of a kiddies potty learning book and the minimum of fuss, no star charts and bribes to get him to perform. I decided to put off getting him out of nappies until I felt he was ready for it. Also with a baby arriving two months after he turned two and us moving provinces shortly thereafter, the time just never seemed right. I am glad we went this route as it all just happened so naturally without any forcing.

Over the years we have been homeschooling, we have come to the realization that child led learning is the way to go. Like so many parents new to homeschooling we went the formal curriculum route, this just didn’t work for us and caused a whole lot of stress before we saw the light and abandoned the curriculum and allowed our son to lead us. I must admit that I did get frustrated when he had no interest in doing anything even remotely school related, but we got him to read by allowing him to read (almost) whatever he chose and he is now an avid reader. He has also become quite motivated this year and is doing loads of schoolwork on his own. He talks about wanting to become an engineer or archaeologist and realizes that he will need to study to do these. I have days when he doesn’t want to play outside with his brother and rather sits in his room studying. He has developed a great enjoyment in doing maths and has whizzes his way through an entire grade 6 maths text book already this year. His other loves are science and art.

I have definitely learned over the years that child led living is the way to go; it is far less stressful for all concerned, most importantly the children involved. It is like most things in life, they all happen in their own good time and if we can all find the patience to allow life to happen at its own pace our lives will be so much richer.

Monday, 02 March 2009


Well I have finally done it!!! – Gotten EarthWear off the ground that is ;-). The website is, and the Etsy Shop is .
The site is still a work in progress and I have some fabulous adults wrap pants and skirts that I will be adding shortly.

Lemonade Award

Thanks Carle from for nominating me for this!! It will hopefully motivate me to post more often. I have several posts that are a work in progress, but just cant seem to get finished...All part of trying to keep up with three kids. I don't know how moms do it all...

Now to nominate 10 blogs, mmm there are so many I love!!

I definitely want to nominate Carle's Blog, it is an inspiration to me. Her pictures are great, and i love to read and see what she and her family are up to. Her Waldorf Maths blog is way cool, and I look forward to using her gentle way of teaching maths for my little ones.

Urban Sprout - is a South African blog I love to read, it is full of all sorts of 'green' info and one of the first places I look when I need info and products here in SA.

Heathers Mama is... and Hathor the Cow Goddess blogs have kept me going through two pregnancies and homebirths. She writes comics about everything attachment parenting, birth, breastfeeding, homeschooling... I really look forward to reading her blogs.

Tiffany's blog Naturemoms is another inspiring and full of info blog I really enjoy reading.

Suzane's down in the meadow market blog has the cutest knitted gnomes and animals. I just love looking at her latest creations.

So now that you have been nominated, this is what you must do...Pass on some lemonade & let someone know they have inspired you. Here’s what you do:
1.Put the logo on your blog or post
2.Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great Gratitude and/or Attitude.
3.Be sure to list and link your nominees within your post.
4.Let them know they have received this award by leaving a comment on their blog.
5.Nominate your favorites and link to your post.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Announcing a birth video/documentary contest! $1000 prize!

Birth and specially homebirth, is one of those life events that I am passionate about. Recently I was approached about a fantastic competition from Birth Matters Virginia.

Announcing a birth video/documentary contest! $1000 prize!

Birth Matters Virginia (an organization that works to promote an
evidence-based model of maternity care) is inviting mothers, fathers,
filmmakers, film students, birth advocates, and others to create a 4-7
minute educational video about birth. The first-place winner will
receive a cash prize of $1000. Second place $500 and an "honorable
mention" prize of $100 will also be awarded. The deadline for entering
the contest is Mother's Day, May 10, 2009.

Guest judges include: Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, acclaimed producers
of the Business of Being Born and Sarah J. Buckley., MD, international
birth expert and author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering. Ricki,
Abby, and Sarah will join a consumer-based panel of judges who will be
evaluating the tone, educational content, creativity and more. You
don't have to be a professional to enter and you don't have to be from

As the national rate of c-sections surpasses 30% and the U.S. ranks
41st in terms of maternal mortality, it is more important than ever
for women and their partners to be educated about the options they
have during pregnancy and birth. Birth Matters Virginia advocates "evidence-based" maternity care, which simply means using the best available research on the safety and effectiveness of specific practices to help guide maternity care decisions and to facilitate optimal outcomes in mothers and newborns. There are a lot of ways to approach that topic, and we're looking forward to the variety of entries.

For rules and to see how to enter, please visit

You can also join our Facebook group to get updates about the contest
and exchange ideas with other participants at

And if you have questions, email Sarah at

Even if you don't plan to make a video or submit an entry, please pass
this email on to everyone you can think of.

Having birthed all three my kids at home, I consider myself among the lucky few to have had that experience. Partly I have to thank my mom for raising me to never follow the so called experts blindly - be they doctors, religeous leaders or other - this has taught me to question, research and question again anything that did not feel right. While statistics in the US quote c-section rates at 30%, I have read that here in South Africa they are as high as 60% in many private hospitals - a frightening fact! Specially if you consider that giving birth is something that women have been doing since the begining of time, I find it truly hard to belive that 60% of women are incapable of giving birth without all the interventions that doctors deem as necessary.

I recently watched a Birth Stories episode on TV and realised yet again, that women simply are not educated enough about their choices when it comes to birth and many follow doctors blindly. I cannot recall one birth that I watched where there were not interventions, mostly to speed up labour that was not progressing sufficiently. When one woman asked about being induced, she was not warned that the induction would make for a more painfull labour, that she would be hooked up to an IV and require constant monitoring and most likely need pain relief meds - due to the drugs used to induce. The doctors all just said, that the gel or IV would simply get things going, no mention of side effects etc. In one case where the woman ended up needing a c-section, the father dared ask about being involved in the birth and was rudely shot down by the doctor (in my opinion, doctors are after all demi-gods and above being questioned, are they not!?!). Not to even mention that every woman who did give birth vaginally, did so lying on her back on the bed... Anyhow the reason for this post was to spread the word about the competition and not to vent my frustrated feelings - maybe I should stay away from these TV programs in future LOL.

Friday, 30 January 2009

New Yahoo Group - Nature Soap

I have decided to start a Yahoo Group. I must admit that for someone who was always a self confessed 'techno-idiot', I have learned how to do everything from setting up my own website, running a blog, doing graphics in Photoshop and CorelDraw and I am now even trying my hand at creating Flash Animation graphics, so I figure why not set up a group - what could be easier - all this while nursing my daughter on my lap.
The group link is - - here we can share information about soapnuts and environmentaly friendly cleaning. The earth depends on us to minimise our carbon footprint and treat her with respect. What easier way to do this, than to get rid of all those awful chemical cleaners in your home and replacing them with equally effective; or better natural ones. This group is based in South Africa, but we welcome members from all around the world, after all 'the more the merrier' :-)

Famous Quotes

I recently decided to revive a blog I started a while ago. It is a random collection of quotes by famous and not so famous people. I just post them as I come across them, all of the quotes have touched me in some way or another. Many are meaningful, some just add a smile to the day.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Made in China

I recently made a vow never to buy items made in China again. I had originally decided to do this some time ago after the all the problems with toxins in the dog food, baby formula, honey, lead in kids toys, human rights abuses and too many other disturbing issues to mention. Sadly over time I got a bit lazy with this and didn't always check lables - after all who has the time to check the lable of every little item bought, when even the innocent looking tin of mussels turns out to be made in China. It's not that I don't want to, but just that shopping with 3 kids (one a toddler and one a baby) after a 2 hour drive when I need to buy a months worth of groceries is just not with in the realm of possibility, and quite frankly enough to drive hubby over the edge.

After recently coming across a post about I just knew I had to do something...
What that something would be is not yet certain, I am rather limited for time, what with trying to get a business off the ground, homeschooling a 12 year old and raising two little ones; not to even mention the veggie garden I am trying to get up and running in the interest of becoming more self sufficient; did I mention that I am supposed to be studying myself as well - yeah I have a bad habit of biting off way more than I can chew.
So in the meantime I decided to go back to not buying anything 'made in china', quite frankly I would rather go without than support a country with so little respect for living beings. It's not that I have anything against Chinese people as such, I am sure that the vast majority of them are decent caring human beings...but there are just too many issues that I feel I would be condoning by buying anything that comes from there.

Some interesting reading:

These all come from just a brief "google", I am too scared to look deeper for fear of what I might find....
Not to even mention that China is the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, mainly due to all its coal power plants.

Somehow I am going to stick to my resolution - not new years, I don't do those - and if I can't get non Chinese I will do without. My first choice is still, always local, after all "Local is Lekker!!"

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Yoghurt & Cheese making

In my recently revived mission to live frugally and minimise our consumption of preservatives and other chemicals, I have decided to start making youghurt - and hopefully cheese again.

Over the last two weeks I have made the most amazing youghurt, thanks to recipes posted by two fantastic homeschool moms on a homeschool group I belong to - I have kept the recipe simple:

  • 2 Liters of full cream milk (any milk will do, though Woolies Organic / Ayershire milk make great youghurt - the Ayershire specially makes thick creamy youghurt.
  • 1 cup plain youghurt (Use one without all the added muck, and keep a cup you made for future use)

Bring the milk to just below boiling point, being carefull not to actually boil it. About 85 deg Celsius if you have a thermometer. Keep it at this temperature for 10 minutes.

Let the milk cool to about 45 deg C, luke warm. Now you can add the cup of yoghurt, make sure to mix thoroughly.

Decant the yoghurt into pre-warmed thermos flasks and leave to stand for about 8 hours in a warm spot.

A few things to watch out for:
Don't boil the milk - otherwise you will end up making ricotta cheese the way I have a few times.
Don't add the yoghurt while the milk is too hot, or you end up with curdled cheesy bits in the yoghurt, still edible, but not really pleasant.
Don't warm the thermos up too much or the above will happen too.

And after all those don'ts - DO enjoy the yoghurt!!! My 2yo loves plain yoghurt (same child who loves veggies and salad - go figure). It is stunning with just a bit of honey added.

Later this week I will share my ricotta cheese recipe, which is based on a lovely recipe posted by Carle on her blog - , I tend to simplify even the simplest recipes - if I can shave 5 minutes of the time it takes to make something, I have 5 minutes more to play with the kids, or surf the net *giggle*

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Enviro-friendly cleaning

Over the years I have experimented with various green cleaning options and wanted to share some of what I have learned.

The criteria I try to stick to are that whatever cleaners I use are green, non-toxic, simple and cost effective. Green and non-toxic are non-negotiable in my book, I simply refuse to have cleaning products in my home that are going to have a negative impact on the environment or be toxic to my kids or pets - these two go hand in hand as I have yet to find a product that is safe for kids (really safe, not just pretend safe; which means no sodium laurel sulphate, and other unpronouncable chemicals) and truly green (again truly green, and not just green-washed). Biodegradability is particularly important since we have a septic tank / french drain system in our home and essentially everything that goes down the drain ends up in the soil.

Before we moved I had all sorts of different cleaners for different applications and it seemed to work, but our new housekeeper just got confused with the array of vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, spray bottles etc so I decided to simplify things. AND since I haven't earned a proper income since moving house in September last year, cost effectiveness has become more and more important. I have basically narrowed it down to soapnuts, Triple-orange (for occasional greasy, tough cleaning), vinegar and bicarb.

Soapnuts - I use these for 99% of my laundry, including cloth nappies. Occasionally do a load with Triple-Orange (when there are stubborn / greasy stains). I also use these for household cleaning (see recipe below) and in the dishwasher - which hubby kindly bought me for christmas - a couple of soapnuts in the cultery basket and everything comes out spotless. Having done quite a lot of research into dishwashers before deciding I actually wanted one, I discovered that they not only clean better than hand washing, but use less water and energy too. My biggest concern was the lack of green dishwasher cleaners in SA, until I read about using soapnuts.

Vinegar - for windows, mirrors etc (dilute 1/2 cup in a bucket of water) and in the all purpose cleaner (see below). Can be used as rinse-aid in the dishwasher, but I find that I don't really need it when using soapnuts.

Bicarbonate of soda - I use this instead of scourers like Vim; works just as well and isn't toxic. Great for cleaning the oven and burned on pots; a regular occurence in my house. Just sprinkle some in the oven or burned on pot, spray soapnut soap on and let it stand for 20 minutes before cleaning.
It is also a great odour absorber, I keep some in a bowl in the fridge, chuck a spoonful in the bottom of the nappy bucket and sprinkle onto cats littler box.
I even wash my hair with it on days when my hair is extra dirty; other days I use the soapnut liquid and always rinse with a rosemary infusion.


Soapnut all-purpose cleaner recipe ~ I use this to clean my whole house.
Add about 30g (about 1/2 handful) of Soap Nut Shells and the peel of one orange to approximately 1.5 Liter of water. Bring to boil, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Be carefull, this boils over easily if not watched, but it does superclean your stove-top in the process. The boiling process extracts the saponin from the nut shells and the essential oil from the orange peel. Lemon peel should work just as well, though I haven't tried it yet since I had oranges left over from last season; which while no good for eating were great for this.
Add a table-spoon of salt (disinfectant & preservative) while the liquid is still hot. Let it steep overnight. Strain and compost the remaining shells. Add a cupfull of vinegar. I sometimes add a few drops of essential oils when I don't have oranges. You can also save up soapnuts used in your washing machine and use them to make the liquid – there is still a lot of saponin to be extracted by boiling after they are no longer useful for laundry.

I put this in a spray bottle and use it for everything from washing bathrooms, kitchen counters...everything else around the house, including dirty little hands.

This is a concentrated, chemical free detergent that can then be used as a laundry detergent, shampoo, all purpose cleaner, car wash, liquid soap, pet shampoo, washing up liquid or any other things you would normally clean with a liquid.

Rosemary infusion for hair
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (about 10cm long), alternatively a tablespoon of dried can be used
2 cups water
Bring water and rosemary to the boil, let it simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Strain and pour onto hair as a rinse after washing, do not rinse out.
This infusion is great as it makes hair soft and manageable. Your hair smells great too.
My sister told me about the benefits of using rosemary many, many years ago and I have used it instead of conditioner since.
A sprig of lavender can also be added to give that lovely lavender scent.

Coming soon, some personal care recipes...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


I haven't posted on here yet about my business ~ I import soapnuts from India and sell them on-line. To me they really are nature's miracle cleaner!!

Some more info:

Now available in SA!!The environmentally friendly and affordable detergent - Soapnuts

A washing detergent that grows on trees…literally - soapnuts are an environmentally friendly sustainably produced, bio-degradable and compostable way of cleaning not only your laundry, but also your whole house.
They are increasingly popular in Europe and the US, and Nature Soap are happy to be the first to bring this wonderful product to environmentally aware South Africans.
Soapnuts are all-natural with no chemical additives, they do the job of cleaning without any of the nasty side effects suffered by many people with allergies. They are even gentle enough to clean newborn baby clothes and nappies.
A 500g package contains enough soapnuts to wash about 135 laundry loads. No Fabric softener is needed. Your washing machine will last longer as there are no harsh chemicals to attack washing machine parts.
For more info or to place an order visit or contact Annie on 0833080086.
Later this week I will post some green cleaning tips and soapnut recipes.